Remember Me?

Are you letting customers slip away? Here's how to get back in their good graces.

How many times have you driven down a familiar street but never really noticed what was on it? Then that fateful day arrives when your car breaks down, and you have to walk several blocks to get help or return home. All of a sudden, you really see the shops, offices, homes and other buildings on the street. They were there all along, but you never noticed them.

Sometimes drumming up business can be like walking down that street. The prospects were there all along--you just never saw them.

Making the most of unidentified or forgotten leads (UFLs) is easy. It involves two major steps that can yield countless benefits: cultivation and reactivation.

Fertile Ground

Cultivating UFLs means setting the stage (i.e., preparing the ground) to go after your target market. Gather data about current and former customers by asking yourself and your current customers these questions:

  • Where do most of my clients/customers come from?
  • What are they like?
  • Why do my customers buy this product or service?
  • Why do they buy from me?
  • What needs does my business satisfy for them?
  • When do they buy?
  • Who is involved in the buying decision?
  • What influences the decision?
  • What lifestyle, age group, home location, income, etc., predominates?

Survey your current customers through direct mail or phone calls. Offer them a special gift or coupon in exchange for their help.

By going through this process, you'll start to create your "ideal customer profile." Those who fit the profile are the ones you need to reactivate in a systematic and energetic way.

In addition to gathering data, remember that networking is also an important element in the cultivation process. Just make sure you spend your networking time wisely, know what your real needs are and who can help fulfill those needs, and primarily target the people who fit your ideal customer profile.

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This article was originally published in the July 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Remember Me?.

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