How do you grow your business?
Most people would say that it’s through customer acquisition, and that’s not completely untrue.
You really can’t grow very much or quickly without regular infusions of new income.
But there’s also a danger involved in concentrating solely on new business (See #2 in this article).
You may just alienate and potentially push away those customers (and their money) that have been with you for a long time.
Loyal Customers See No Loyalty
Wait, does that mean I’m saying you shouldn’t try to attract new business? Of course not.
What I am saying is that while you are planning your marketing and promotions (if you run any) you need to remember the people that got you to where you are.
Think about it for a second, when you see great promotions for anything, who are they aimed at?
When it comes to cars, the deals are for people who are current owners of competing manufacturers.
With credit cards, it for new applicants.
Retail and online stores often aim their best promotions at first-time shoppers or mailing list subscribers.
But how many of these great deals find their way to current customers?
Not very many.
That’s why it’s so important to show your current customer base some loyalty–you can stand out and people will take notice that you care about all of your customers, not just new ones.
The Cautionary Tale Of Sprint
One of the most glaring examples is in the cell phone industry. Sprint has been running wild, offering subscribers of other networks huge rate discounts for switching, and plastering these promotions all over tv, radio, and the web.
Why am I bringing this up? Because even with all of the subscribers moving to Sprint for these savings, the company ended up actually posting a net loss in its overall subscriber rate and in having to adjust, ended up cutting thousands of jobs.
What does that have to do with your business?
A whole lot.
Sprint made a tremendous effort to boost its business by reaching out to new customers, but it made a huge mistake: ignoring it existing subscribers.
Existing customers were left wondering “Why are they getting such a cheap price, what about me!?”
While the company was able to steal some of it’s competitors’ business, the effort fell short because the competitors did the same and stole even more away from Sprint using its own tactics against it.
What this should teach you is that you simply cannot forget about your existing customers.
Rewarding Your Loyal Customers
It doesn’t take much effort or time.
Try something like a customer appreciation promotion that gives a discount or a small gift just for people who have already done business with you.
Or a referral program which not only rewards your customers, but also encourages them to promote your business. It doesn’t even have to be a cash payment, it can be discounts or free stuff.
You can even do something as simple as sending out a hand-signed note or a quick phone call to personally say “thank you for being a loyal customer”.
Take a proactive approach to let your current customers know that while you are making efforts to bring in new business, you haven’t forgotten about them.
All people want is to feel appreciated. If you make even the smallest effort, they’ll notice.
Almost none of us have a stranglehold on our industries, so it’s very easy for any of the people we serve to go someplace else if there is perceived neglect in their minds.
It’s important to find a balance between customer acquisition and retention.
Just remember that as quickly as you can sign someone up, another person can walk away.