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Dont Forget your Existing Clients


Quest for new clients shouldn't ignore those who pay the bills

Acquisition. It's a big word in small business marketing. Companies are constantly looking at ways to draw new people to the business and generate new streams of revenue. In this quest, some small businesses make the mistake of focusing too much on new customer acquisition, only to find that their existing customers have been lured away by a competitor.

Ironic, isn't it? The very tactics you use to drive new customers to your business are the same ones that your competitors can use to take them away from you. Losing sight of your existing customer base is truly an example of not seeing the forest for the trees. Did you know that on average, it costs a small business 10 times as much to attract a new client as it does to retain an existing one? Think about that the next time you are planning an acquisition marketing campaign, then use these three tips to ensure that your customers don't fall prey to your competitor's acquisition efforts:

Coffee Anyone?: One of the simplest and most cost effective retention initiatives I've seen involved sending your customers a brief letter and tossing in a gift certificate for a free coffee at a local coffee shop (if you're a local business), or a national coffee chain (if you operate in a broader area.) It will only cost you about one dollar for each of your customers plus mailing costs, and you'll accomplish two things. Firstly, they'll be reminded of your company name and services thanks to your brief letter, and secondly, they'll enjoy a hot cup of coffee and feel good about you gesture. That free coffee can go a long way towards client retention.

Get Them a Deal: Who are your customers? Are they small businesspeople operating in your area? Are they pet owners? Are they car lovers? The product you sell will dictate what your clients are interested in. (For example if you sell a new type of car wax, you can be fairly certain that 99% of your clients are car buffs). If you have even a few dozen clients, you could approach another local business that sells a car related product (let's say a new tire polish) and offer them a deal. You'll send a letter to all of your customers and offer them a great deal on the tire polish of 40% off the retail price. The company you approach should be willing to do this, as they have the potential to make a number of sales at one time, and your customers receive something of value from you, making them remember your company name and feel good about your offer.

Take it one step further and reciprocate the offer. The tire polish company can tell all of their clients about your car wax, and you'll offer them a 40% as well since you now have the chance to sell some of your product. Client loyalty and new business too?.a total solution! Just make sure that what you offer to your clients is actually valuable and not just a hollow sales pitch. Your reputation may be hurt by partnering with businesses that do not invest as much in client satisfaction as you do.

Build a Community: Keeping in contact with your customers is another way to improve customer retention. If your customers receive a newsletter or ezine from you on a regular basis, it becomes very difficult for them to forget about you or your services. Producing an ezine or newsletter is not as difficult as you think. The Internet is full of articles and opinions on almost every subject imaginable. Most authors will grant you permission to use their articles free of charge provided that you include a link to their website (you can find a great collection of articles on a wide variety of topics at www.ideamarketers.com, www.clickforcontent.com, and others). By building a small newsletter or ezine that contains 2 or 3 articles per month, you will get one opportunity each month to remind your customers that you value their business. Of course you could also include information about your latest product or service offerings in your newsletter in addition to the articles.

Acquiring customers is important, but retaining customers is critical to the ongoing success of your business. Small gestures often go a long way towards thwarting the acquisition efforts of your competition, and ensuring that your customers remain aware of your company and interested in your services.

About The Author

Will Dylan is the Author of "Small Business Big Marketing" a powerful e-book for small businesses available through his website www.marketingyoursmallbusiness.com. You can contact Will at askwill@marketingyoursmallbusiness.com.

Article contents 2004 by marketingyoursmallbusiness.com.


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