Have you ever had this experience: You see an ad or offer for some amazing deal for a company of which you’re a longtime customer—something big, like “50% off a year’s membership.” Wow, you want to take advantage of that! But you can’t because there’s only one catch: The offer is for new customers only. “Hmph,” you think. “What am I, chopped liver?”
Many small businesses make the mistake of ignoring their biggest source of income: recurring customers. OK, maybe not “ignoring” them completely, but giving them the short end of the stick when it comes to attention, special offers and prime treatment.
It’s natural that getting new customers should be a key part of your business strategy. After all, every company needs new business in the pipeline to survive and grow. But the bulk of your time and attention should go to your existing customers. Why? Here are just a few reasons:
- They’re already loyal customers.
- It costs less to keep them satisfied (and buying) than it does to replace them.
- Keep them happy and they’ll tell friends about your business.
What can you do to provide better treatment for your returning customers? Here are some ideas:
- Hold special sales or events just for loyal customers.
- Offer them early access to new merchandise or services.
- Give them the chance to lock in current prices for the coming year or when they renew.
- Use automation tools such as a CRM system to track details about your customers so you can personalize your customer service, offers and interactions. You can even greet them appropriately when they call your business!
- Use technology that creates a record of customer service interactions so that when recurring customers contact you with problems, you can quickly access their histories.
- Investigate loyalty programs for small businesses. There are many affordable options that integrate with your marketing, enabling more targeted outreach to returning customers.
It’s OK to create special offers and deals for new customers only—just be sure you provide equivalent or better rewards for customers who have shown their loyalty to your business.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at email@example.com, follow her on Twitter.com/Rieva and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.