How to keep and grow your customers

It was the legendary business thinker, Peter Druker, who said, “Because the purpose of business is to create and keep a customer, the business enterprise has two – and only two – basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs.” So if you agree with Mr Druker then you concur that only marketing and innovation can grow your business.

Every smart business owner knows that all business success comes from their ability to be good at marketing. But knowing and doing are two different things. The key question I pose this week: Is there a gap between the marketing you’re doing at the moment, and the marketing you need to be doing to achieve the business success that you want?

So let’s make an instant effort to improve your marketing. Firstly, what is the single biggest asset in your business? That asset is your customers. Your customers (and future customers) are the key to your success, yet every day I see companies ignoring their biggest asset. How do we safeguard our biggest asset? Your customers are no good to you if you lose them. Thriving in a challenging economy depends on having long-lasting relationships with your customers.

You must make customer retention and growth an obsessive strategy in tough times. How do we do this? Here are seven ways:

  1. Intensify communication with your customers. 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 on-going basis. Stay at the forefront of your customers’ minds.
  2. 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. Treat the bottom 80% good, but treat the treasured top 20% magnificently.
  3. Every business should have a monthly newsletter. Add value to their businesses and educate them. Inform them of leading edge industry skills, challenges, changes and solutions.  Your customers should be in an on-going marketing and sales sequence of newsletters, emails, sales letters and phone calls.
  4. Commit yourself to marketing mastery. Marketing mastery is not about doing two thousand things – it’s about doing 12 things brilliantly 1000 times. You have to be committed to mastery.
  5. Sell more to your existing customers. When someone buys from you, you are meeting their needs. The best way to keep customers is have them buy from you repeatedly with more frequency and volume. Incentivise your existing customers to do this. Your existing customers are a goldmine that needs constant mining.

  6. Ask for referrals, but make sure that you earn every single referral. If you asked every one of your existing clients to recommend you three other potential clients and you convert one of those three into a new client, you will have instantly doubled the size of your client base.
  7. Use testimonial marketing. We live in a high trust business era. Customers want information they can trust, and testimonials fit that bill. Comments from real people with real names who live in real places and provide information you can put into direct quotes are far more believable than any marketing message you can devise on your own. Testimonials are proof that your products or services work. Let your client shout it out loud on your behalf.

And please don’t say that you can’t afford to do better marketing. Most of the above costs nothing or very little. One of the big myths about marketing is that it has to be expensive. Some of the best marketing is free or low cost. Go for it!