While global financial assets tumble, and everyone else panics, you have as asset which can produce growth rates that will leave most stock traders green with envy, IF you handle it right.
That asset is your customers. Your customers (and future customers) are part of the key that will secure you during this economic turmoil. Unlike shares and traditional investing, there’s no downside risk – and the upside normally ranges from a 50% to 250% return on your investment, regardless of the economy.
The first priority is what we call ‘ring fencing’ your customers. Money in the bank is no good to you if someone breaks into the bank and steals it. Equally, your customers are no good to you if you lose them. Strength in a tough economy depends on having a long lasting relationship with your customers. You literally have to ring fence them in. I urge you to make this a priority in these uncertain times. Here are 7 highly effective ways to do it:
1. More communication. You should at least double the communication with your existing customers and communicate to them no less than once each week. You don’t always have to sell something. Provide useful information to them on an ongoing basis. This email is an example. Stay at the forefront of your customers’ minds.
2. Every business should have a monthly newsletter. Ideally printed and sent in the post. It costs about £1 per customer per month to do this and builds tremendous loyalty. If you’re not willing to invest £12 per year on your best customers, you have other problems that need fixing.
3. Send your customers gifts. If the customers are worth a lot to you, send them gifts with real value in the post after they buy and at key times such as birthdays, new year etc. Books make great gifts. At the very least, send online ‘gifts’ such as special videos, reports etc.
4. Segment your customer list and treat the top 20% differently to the rest. For most businesses, 80% of profits come from around 20% of the customers. Whoever wrote the book about treating all customers equally was a twit. It’s nonsense. If you fly economy on Virgin, you’ll be treated very well. If you fly Upper Class, you’ll discover that Richard Branson is well aware that you don’t treat all customers equally. This top 20% are your greatest protection in a turbulent economy. Treasure them.
5. Get on the phone to your best customers. You don’t have to sell them anything. Just check in with them to see how they’re doing and if you’re doing a good job of looking after them. Expect at least 20% of them to buy something from you straight away.
6. Send a personal handwritten note to your best 50 customers today. It will cost you next to nothing and they will be stunned. This is ring fencing at its finest.
7. Sell more to your customers. This seems counter intuitive, but the best way to keep customers is have them buy from you again. When someone buys from you, you are meeting their needs. If you’re not forcefully communicating to your customers what you have for them, you’re letting them down and you’re letting yourself down. Your customers should be in an ongoing Marketing and sales cycle of emails, letters and depending on the business, phone calls. On average, it takes seven of these communications to get a sale. Most business owners give up at one or two. In a good economy you can get away with ignoring this type of Marketing. In this economy, you can’t.
Most of the above cost nothing or very little. One of the big myths about Marketing is that it has to be expensive. Actually, some of the best Marketing is Free.