What's the key element in a marketing transaction? Product or service will get you nowhere unless you have buyers. Your first and major objective in business should be to get customers.
Too often, however, business owners forget that keeping a current customer is just as important as seeking out new customers. And it's a lot less expensive.
Let's cheerfully assume that you already have clients or customers. Your NUMBER ONE marketing goal is to keep them coming back. Not just coming back, but dragging their friends and family with them. Happy customers who refer others to you should be your highest and best marketing objective. In Creating Customer Evangelists Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba call satisfied customers your volunteer sales force.
Keeping your current customers happy (very very happy is best) should be the easiest and least expensive marketing investment you make. And not keeping them happy could be the most costly mistake you make.
Four simple suggestions:
- Smile! Greet every customer with a positive, cheerful, sincere welcome and be sure your employees do the same. In person and on the phone. (Hint: Your employees are more apt to smile if you treat them with a positive attitude and reward them for treating customers well.
- Say thank you. And mean it.
- Apologize with sincerity when you (or your staff) make an error. And make up for the error in a meaningful way. Make sure whatever caused the error is fixed (if necessary and possible). In general, mistakes are learning opportunities for you and your employees, not cause for dismissal. Workers fearful of retribution are more apt to follow the rules than to go the extra mile for customers.
- Create a welcoming atmosphere: that means a clean and tidy storefront that is easy to navigate and where finding products is simple and fun. It means offices that are tidy and professional. When you visit client sites, present a professional appearance appropriate to your work.
Happy, loyal customers should be tool number one in your marketing arsenal. Ask them for referrals, offer small gifts for referrals, and thank them for the referrals they do provide.