If there are any two words that can create a big difference in the revenue generation process of small and medium businesses, they are in the title to this blog – Stay Connected. Scores of management practitioners have emphasized the fact that revenue generation from existing customers is far cheaper than new business development.
It is key to develop a constant and ongoing communications plan with your customer base. From the very first moment the customer contacts you as a prospect start a dialogue that can keep the prospect interested in your business. It is not always that a prospect immediately converts to a customer. But if you keep the communication going consistently, there is a great chance that the prospect would definitely convert.
Constant communication with the prospect / customer base has many advantages:
- You get feedback: what better way to know how you are faring in the marketplace through your products or services. Customer feedback can only come about if you are willing to listen to your customers and engage them in a dialogue.
- You get testimonials: satisfied customers are always a great source of business generation. Despite the myriad media available to promote your product, there is nothing more powerful than referral marketing. A testimonial provided by a satisfied customer will pave the way to build a strong referral marketing process.
- You get new ideas: very often customers always provide you with nuggets of ideas on your existing products / services or new concepts. You can develop these ideas and commercialize them to give you the extra edge in the market place.
- You may get requests for back-checks: very often, when negotiating high value contracts, your prospect may, before doing business with you, may want to talk to a few of your customers. Having a sustained dialogue with your customer base ensures that you are able to provide such prospects with great referrals from existing customers who can say positive things about your business.
- You increase loyalty: some of the best businesses have proven beyond a doubt that having a loyal customer base automatically increases the chances of sustained growth. As a small or medium business there is no better way than customer loyalty to ensure that your business acquisition costs are kept down. There is a direct correlation between loyalty and increased business and it is in your interest to ensure this is sustained.
So how, you may ask, do you keep in touch. There are several ways in which you can do, but the key is to have the commitment and focus. Some of the ideas you can use to have a stay-in-touch program are:
- Calling your customer: in this day and age of electronic communication, sometimes listening to a human voice is exceptional. Without seeming to be a hindrance to your customer’s daily schedule, reach out to your customer by phone and talk. Don’t make it only about your business. Just reach out and find out how their business is doing and explore ways in which you can help them achieve their goals.
- Create an online community: clearly one of the best ways to help your customer base – existing and intended – is to create a place where they can benefit from you and your business. Start a blog that provides your target community with useful business advice rather than sensational headlines or plain sales talk.
- Plan your frequency of contact: according to data from the American Marketing Association, a person can handle up to 200 contacts a year. Now that may be an overkill, but do not lose sight of this fact. Keep a regular schedule of reaching out to your customer base so that you do not slip away unnoticed in their radar screen.
- Show sincere appreciation: for every act of the customer be sincere is your appreciation of what they do for your business. Be it a sale, testimonial or referral. And, every once in a way, organize an appreciation event where you can get your customers together and acknowledge their contribution to your success.
- Run online contests: these are a great way to get your customer base involved in your business. Contests not only provide your business with ideas but the customer involvement in these go a long way in enhancing customer loyalty.
Whatever be the option you choose remember success comes only if you have the focus and commitment to it. And, as I have previous stated in our blog, marketing is nothing bu a few specific activities you can do well, consistently and measure. Staying in touch with your customer / prospect base is, like marketing, no different.