November 28, 2014

Sales and Marketing Advice for Florida business

Treat current customers like new customers to win more business

Continuously nurture the relationship between you and your customers.

Ron Stein | 11/9/2012

It seems like a no-win situation.

Kicking your company’s growth into high gear requires new customers -- lots of them. The rule of thumb is that new customers are two to three times more important to rapid growth of revenue than purchases by existing customers.

Yet, closing your eyes to the people who do business with you today is not a very good idea. After all, marketing to new customers costs up to five times more than keeping existing customers.

You’ve heard it time and time again; 80% of your company’s future revenue will come from just 20% of your existing customers. Every business needs new customers to grow big -- but it’s easier to go after new revenue from customers who already know your company.

What’s a company to do?

Go after both in a way that doesn’t drive you crazy. For most types of businesses, existing customers are a predictable source of new revenue. Treat them like one of your defined market segments and have a plan to continually engage them.

That starts the day a prospect buys your product or signs up for your services. This will make life a lot easier and give you the best of both worlds -- but only if you have laid the groundwork with your marketing.

Treat current customers like new customers. It’s a lot like dating. When you focus on new customers as one your top marketing initiatives, positive things begin to happen in unexpected ways. These customers say, “wow, other businesses we buy from never did that!” Any hint of buyer’s remorse evaporates and they begin to like and trust you even more. They will actually brag about you and tell their friends and business associates -- all potential customers. And they’ll refuse proposals from competitive suitors. They are now your fans and will buy again and again from you.

Help New Customers adopt your offering. If your customer learns how to use your product or service right out of the gate, they’ll appreciate it. Start with a welcome package or email. Thank them again and let them know where to get further information and how the find the people in your company that matter. Offer them education to get off to a great start in the form of a quick start guide, videos on your website, and webinars. Doing this ‘resells’ them on the features and benefits that attracted them to you in the first place. Even if your product is straightforward, follow-up to make sure they’ve begun to take advantage of what you sold them."

Continuously nurture the relationship.  Have a newsletter or email you send out on a regular basis. This can be the same newsletter you send to prospects or a special edition just for current customers. Use it to keep customers updated on your company and industry news, as well as to pass along great ideas and tips on how to use your solution -- consider featuring other customers and how they’re using your offering and what they gained. But do more than keep in touch activity. Use social media and surveys to get feedback -- you’ll learn about your customers and what makes them tick. And this will stop potential problems before they start. Your customers will appreciate the two-way communications. Don’t forget to include special promotional offers just for them.

Have a marketing plan that focuses on existing customers. Do this and you’ll become the go-to source of expertise and prevent competitors from getting a foothold.

Customer retention is a matter of doing much of what you did to close your customers in the first place. Move to a retention mentality as soon as you close your customer.

Most companies seem to forget to keep paying customers happy. Passionate fans buy again and again -- and help you promote your brand to others. Have a process to keep paying customers happy.

Read earlier columns from Florida Trend's business coach, Ron Stein
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Ron Stein is the founder and President of FastPath Marketing (www.marketing-strategies-guide.com). He has more than 20 years experience in sales, marketing, and business development, working positions ranging from salesman to vice president of sales and marketing to CEO of startups with industry leaders such as Motorola, VideoServer, Paradyne, and SercoNet. Ron is a member of the advisory team at the Tampa Bay Innovation Center, a nationally recognized entrepreneurial and startup accelerator for the state of Florida. He can be reached at 727-398-1855 or Ron@FastPathMarketing.com

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