Archive | April, 2014

Want to Decrease Marketing Expenses and Increase Sales? Stop Neglecting Your Current Customers

23 Apr
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Problem: Neglected Customers

You spent lots of time, effort, and money to craft a marketing strategy and implement marketing campaigns to attract new clients.  The hard work paid off: several new customers decided to purchase your products and/or services. Your initial customer experience convinced the lead/prospect to pay for your products and/or services.  However, you continue to flush money down the toilet because you made the same mistake as other companies: you neglected the customer after the sale.

After the exchange of the customers’ money for your products and/or services, that customer is viewed as old news to you and people within your company.  You shift your focus back to hunting for the sexy new customers. This is a colossal mistake that is both increasing your marketing expenses and decreasing your sales.  It’s infinitely more expensive to secure a new customer than sell to someone who is familiar with your products and services.

What happens to the old news customer?  You paid so much attention to him or her during the new customer acquisition campaign. Will he or she ever hear from you again?  The majority of companies assume the new customer will continue to purchase their products and services.  The customer bought once from me, he or she will be back.  You know the old saying, assume makes an ass out of you and me.

Think about it for a minute: How do you treat customers after the initial sale? Do you have a process and strategy to consistently stay in front of the customer after the first sale?

Create a systematic retention marketing campaign that nurtures your current customers.

Instead of always chasing the sexy new customer, why not focus efforts on creating exceptional experiences and nurturing campaigns for current customers?

Benefits of Nurturing Current & Past Customers

1)      Less expensive – it costs about 4-5 times more money to acquire a new customer vs. retaining a current customer.  A new customer taxes your resources: advertising and marketing expenses for digital and print ads, consumes your social media content, asks your sales team lots of questions, waits several months to make decisions…on and on..

A current customer is already familiar with you and your business.  Your advertising, marketing, and sales team already earned the current customers trust.

2)      Happy Customers Tell Others – when a customer is happy and feels special, he or she will defend and recommend your company.  It’s essentially free advertising for you.  The current customer is not only likely to purchase from you again but also act as a source of new business for you, because he or she will tell friends and family about your wonderful company. You should have a referral campaign to recognize and reward referrers.

3)      Free Feedback – leverage current customers to gain feedback about new products or services you plan to offer.  Use current customers to help improve the customer experience.

How Do You Get Started?

1)      Create systems to collect, segment, and store new customers contact information.  It’s up to you what contact information is important to keep.  You can do a lot with a home address, email address, and phone number.  If you want to personalize (I would): gather anniversary date of first purchase, birthday, or any other piece of information that will help future campaigns.

2)      Brainstorm Ideas to Nurture Customers 

  1. Educational Content
  2. Exclusive Deals
  3. Appreciation Nights
  4. Workshops

Reach out to them with valuable information without asking for anything in return. If you consistently provide content and promotions to current clients, making them feel special, he or she is much more likely to listen when you want to sell.

3)      Add ideas to Content Calendar – create at least three months of information to send to your current clients.  Use various methods to reach the customer – email, direct mail, social media, etc. Add these to a content calendar so its easy for you and your staff to prepare and distribute.

If you are serious about creating a world-class company, you need to decide how you retain customers.  What can you do to offer a consistent, valuable experience for your current customers?  The company that retains customers gains a tremendous competitive advantage over its competition.

Good luck!

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Do You Offer a Unique Customer Experience to Your Clients and Prospects?

10 Apr
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While companies continue to spend millions (billions?) of dollars to acquire engineering talent and patents to gain a competitive advantage, one asset proves to be extremely difficult to either acquire or emulate: Customer Experience.

Today, it’s easier than ever for competitors to quickly replicate your products and/or services.  If there is little difference between your products/services and your competitors’ products/services, how will you gain a competitive advantage and secure loyal clients? Please don’t say because you have a cheaper price and a better product. Competing exclusively on price only works  for Amazon and Wal-Mart. 

Let’s use Starbucks as an example. The customer experience at Starbucks is a major reason why people routinely bypass local coffee shops and/or fast food restaurants serving similar quality coffee for a cheaper price, to pay an additional $3.00 at Starbucks.  The founding team at Starbucks realized that people will pay a premium price for an outstanding experience.  Starbucks doesn’t sell coffee, it sells experience. It sells a lifestyle. It’s not by accident – it’s all part of the customer experience strategy.  The great companies, including Amazon and Starbucks START with the customer experience and work backwards.

Do you have a customer experience strategy?  I highly recommend you begin thinking about what your customers and prospects experience at each of the touchpoints at your company.  For example:

1)      What happens when a customer or prospect:

– Lands on your website for the first time?

– Uses the ‘Contact Us’ email address to inquire about your product/service

Does he or she receive a thank you and told how long it will take to receive a response?  Do you have systems and training in place to provide an outstanding experience?

– Calls the phone number listed on the website

Human answer? Is your team trained how to interact with clients and prospects on the phone Who do you trust with the first impression of your business?

Voicemail? What’s the message

– Views your social media channels (Blog, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc…)

Asks a question/leaves a comment on your social media site?

  1. Drives to your store and parks his or her car – is the parking lot clean? Are there missing lights in your sign?  What’s the appearance at the store?  How is the person greeted?  What happens at checkout? Is there special packaging?  What can you do to enhance the experience?
  2. Purchases your product or service?  How is it delivered?  How do you follow up? How do you nurture him or her for future business?

There are several things to think about when developing a customer experience strategy.  It’s hard work, but if you want to create a competitive advantage and increase your company’s chances of success in the long run, it’s imperative that you start to think about the overall customer experience at your company.

 

Good Luck!

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