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The Secret's Out

The one marketing rule you absolutely must know for the new millenium.

Want to grow your small company with the brilliance of a marketer from Mensa? Want a business-building strategy that would have Bill Gates groveling at your feet? Want to pull it off without breaking a sweat or breaking the bank? No problem. Just reach out to your existing customer base--whether that's three customers or 3,000--as Entrepreneur's marketing experts have long recommended. As we begin a new era of more sophisticated company-to-customer interactivity, this approach becomes even more potent as a marketing tool . . . and, we felt, merited a special update to brief you on all the possibilities as we quickly approach the new millennium.

We've all seen and admired examples of marketing genius over the past few decades--like that of Walter E. Diemer, who died recently at age 93 and who sold us on a gooey pink substance called "Double Bubble" chewing gum. And let's not forget whoever talked us into potbellied pigs for pets. But in 2000 and beyond, the golden statuettes for marketing genius will be handed out to entrepreneurs of another sort: those who realize the smartest marketing move is to develop unbreakable relationships with their current customers.

Yes, start-up companies will always need to beat the bushes for new customers. But once you're up and running, selling more goods to fewer people is not only more efficient, it's also far more profitable. Plus, for many companies, old customers are often the best source of new customers. But more on that topic later.

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This article was originally published in the May 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: The Secret's Out.

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