Posted Thursday, February 3, 2005
A lot of effort is put into getting new clients. We all know our client base will change. Previous clients can move to a new area, sell their business, close down, or change their priorities. So finding new business is always important - but so is keeping your previous clients. Here are nine ways to keep previous clients coming back for more!
1) Provide exceptional service. Sounds obvious, but is very hard to do consistently. If clients believe they can't do better elsewhere, they won't succumb to the temptation of trying another provider.
2) Maintain your database. This can be as simple or complex as you like. Just make sure it meets the needs of your business. You must have suitable contact details, and preferably some measure of sales value. For example, I use email extensively with my clients, so having current email addresses is paramount. But I have clients who must use regular postal mail to communicate with their clients, as their clients do not widely use email. So postal address details are critical in their situation.
3) Use direct mail. This is your pipeline to future sales. Create regular opportunities to communicate directly with your previous clients, especially if your service has a long sales cycle. Keep in touch between purchase decisions.
4) Make special offers. Find ways to encourage previous clients to buy from you. Examples may be: package offers; time sensitive deals; introducing new services; pre-releasing information or products to current clients before the general public.
5) Run special events. Offer a free (or low cost) seminar to your clients on current issues. Invite complementary businesses, local business people, or celebrities to present new ideas. Use breakfast meetings, lunchtime executive briefings, or evening functions. The key here is to add value for your clients, outside of their usual dealings with you.
6) Write a note. Get a pen and write a personal message. This could be triggered by seasonal activities, birthdays, business events, or personal circumstances. Let your clients know you are still thinking of them.
7) Ring them up. Where possible get on the phone to previous clients and have a chat. Make it brief but meaningful. Keep posted on their current projects and priorities. Seek out ways you can help.
8) Promote your business. Demonstrate the value you can provide. If you have recently written a useful report, or presented a topic at a conference, or issued a press release, or conducted some research, or completed an interesting project, tell your clients about it. Don't keep your hard work a secret.
9) Send reminders. Many businesses have the opportunity to offer ongoing services for previous clients. Send a reminder about servicing, maintenance, periodic reviews, or changes to relevant regulatory requirements.
(c) 2004 Stuart Ayling
About the Author
Stuart Ayling runs Marketing Nous, an Australasian marketing consultancy that specialises in marketing for service businesses. He helps clients to improve their marketing tactics, attract more clients, and increase revenue. For additional marketing resources, including Stuart's popular monthly newsletter, visit his web site at (www.marketingnous.com.au)