Watch out! Is someone trying to steal your customers?

By: Robert Peters

Date: 18 April 2012

Stealing customers{{}}Customer loyalty isn’t what it used to be.

With comparison websites and online shopping it takes seconds to find the best deal.

The world has become smaller, it’s much easier to reach customers anywhere, without having to travel, without large costs and without a large sales force.

What does this mean for the small business owner?

If your customers don’t remember you, they will call someone else.

Another business.

A business that is in your marketplace right now, trying to steal them.

Why make it easy?

Who are the easiest customers to sell to? The ones you already have.

Yet, so often I see businesses that put all of their efforts into finding new customers, which is the hardest part of sales, rather than keeping in regular contact with their existing customers.

Here are four reasons why it’s so important to keep in contact with your existing customers.

1. Existing customers know you

Before a customer will purchase from you they need to know, like and trust you.

Existing customers have already been through that process, you’ve already gained their trust, you just need to keep it.

Keep your business in their memory.

We all live busy lives, and our customers are no different. If they don’t hear from you on a regular basis then you move out of recent memory. The longer you are out of their memory, the more work you have to get them to know, like and trust you all over again.

2. Existing customers give referrals

Walt Disney said: “Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.”

If you’re a solicitor specialising in property sales you won’t expect to hear from every customer every year, but what about your customer’s friends, family and colleagues?

Keeping in contact makes it easy for customers to refer you to other people, building your customer list.

Referral business is especially good because the personal recommendation from the person referring you makes the process of know, like and trust easier. A lot of the work is already done for you.

3. The long sale

Customers respond to different messages and have different needs and issues.

Often a marketing message will be relevant for one customer and not for another.

Keeping in touch with customers gives you the opportunity to use a variety of marketing messages and topics with your customers. This increases the chance of a message being relevant and the customer wanting to purchase more of your products and services.

This is a much better small business growth plan than relying on a single message and a one-off sale.

4. Keep competitors out!

Staying in the recent memory of your existing customers helps keep others out.

In most industries, there will be several businesses keen to steal your customers, as an old boss of mine used to say — “trying to eat your lunch”.

Don’t let them.

Make sure when your customer thinks of the types of products and services that you sell they immediately think of you.

Robert Peters is a Small Business Advisor and Director of Fresh Eyes Consultancy.