Entrepreneurs spend much of their time and money prospecting new leads. And there's certainly no shortage of marketers trying to sell you services to increase your reach and boost your sales. But the truth is, the pot of gold isn't hiding behind an expensive ad campaign or in someone else's mailing list (or in search engine optimization, either). It's right there in front of you. It's your current customers.
Don't Take Their Love for Granted
Loyalty isn't free; it needs to be earned. In today's world, consumers have an almost endless number of choices. They may have only done business with you last month and even the month before, but there's no guarantee they'll come back again next month. Therefore, it's imperative that you take the right steps to encourage them to come back, thereby further growing your relationship with them.
You've probably heard before that your regular customers are your best prospects for new and repeat sales, but your business or service needs to be first on their minds when they reach for their wallets or make that decision on where to take their business. A qualified audience is better than an unqualified audience, right? But don't make the mistake of thinking repeat business will just happen. You're not the only game in town. So think about your regular customers, then ask yourself:
- Do they need or want your product or service? If they do, will your business be the one they think of first?
- If they don't have an immediate need, can you stimulate new business by increasing their usage or selling them some other aspect of your business or service?
E-mail marketing is the right tool for you to stay in touch with customers who've already bought from you and make sure the answer to both questions is yes!
Buy, Buy Again
Targeted, regular e-mail contact can set you apart from other businesses that your customers may read or hear about. As I've said before, all sales are local. Add "personal" to that statement, and you've summed up what you need to know about your customers. Your challenge is to keep in front of the customers who already know you. Work to keep them coming back for more--and the payoff could be exponential.
E-mail marketing is an inexpensive and easy way to show customers why you're the best at what you do and that you appreciate their continued patronage. It also gives you the necessary tools to:
- Let your best customers know about all your products and services.
- Encourage new and repeat sales and increase customer usage.
- Motivate customers to share their positive experience with your company by forwarding your e-mail messages and newsletters to friends.
Need a few examples of how you can generate more business from your existing customers? Try these:
"Do you know what else I can do?" Say you're a landscaper who cuts my lawns and trims my shrubs. I may not know you also build decks and walkways. How would I know I could hire you to repair my deck if I don't know the full range of your services? Well, I'd know if you sent me an e-newsletter telling me.
Or maybe you run a dog-sitting center. Customers drop off their precious pooches with you when they go out of town. But they might not realize you also offer grooming and training services. So you put together an e-mail newsletter that tells them about all your services, offers a training tip, plus a 10-percent off coupon for their pet's nail clipping. Want them to sit up and take notice? Invite them to nominate their dogs for a "Pet of the Month" column. You'll flatter customers, unleash their loyalty and fetch new leads when they forward your e-newsletter to all their pet-obsessed friends.
"Did you forget me?" E-mail marketing is the best way to make sure your customers don't forget you. This works well for retail stores and restaurants. For example, say you have a great restaurant that I ate at three months ago. I'm going out to dinner Friday night, but I may not think of your restaurant unless...I got your e-newsletter with your menu of the month. Now you've whetted my appetite for more. The e-newsletter helps keep your restaurant top of mind and increases the likelihood I'd make a return visit.
E-mail marketing can unlock hidden sales with your most personal and most accessible group--your current customers. It lets you track what information clicks with individual customers, then lets you segment them into groups and target their particular interests with specific campaigns. (Get more tips from my article, "How Effective Is Your E-Newsletter?" .)
Stay in regular contact with your best customers and remind them of what you offer. That's where next month's sales are coming from. Remember, it's easier for customers to buy from someone they know than to take a chance with an unknown business. They're waiting to hear from you.