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Want Loyal Customers? Do This.

August 9, 2013
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/227679

Everyone in your company, from the summer intern to the CEO, has opportunities to communicate with individual customers. But few companies understand how to leverage these one-to-one marketing opportunities.

Twenty years ago, Don Peppers and Martha Rogers, in their book, The One to One Future, introduced the term "one-to-one" marketing. Peppers and Rogers suggested that by interacting with customers and customizing your product or service for each of them, you create loyal customers.

Websites and data-driven marketing campaigns have become more targeted and dynamic, but most companies have been unable to implement true one-to-one marketing at scale. This is not surprising. Few companies have the know-how to do this. But this doesn't mean that startups should ignore one-to-one marketing. Such individualized interactions can create loyal customers and help improve your business.

One-to-one marketing also doesn't have to take a ton of time and resources. If done smartly, you can find missed opportunities that have been right under your nose.

Four years ago, I started thinking about ways I can best use the time during my 30-minute commute to work. Around the same time, I started hearing from young entrepreneurs, many of whom asked for a quick conversation to discuss their ideas.

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I decided that during at least two morning commutes each week, I would talk with young entrepreneurs by phone. I realized these calls would not only give me an opportunity to help others, but would also let me talk with entrepreneurs around the world to better understand how crowdSPRING could help them as customers.

Many of these calls have led to new customers or introduced me to entrepreneurial organizations and communities around the world. Luck plays a major role in startup success. But there are many things you can do to influence your own luck.

Another effective way to build one-to-one marketing into your business is to find opportunities to promote your customers. For example, a few years ago, I realized that featuring profiles of our customers in our blog would give them an opportunity to reach a bigger audience. Several times each month, we would publish a short Q&A interview with one of our customers. We soon recognized our customers had valuable insight about their industry and the challenges of starting a business that they could share with our community.

By providing something valuable and unexpected, we created loyal customers. But we also used each conversation to ask what crowdSPRING could do to improve our service. We gain incredibly valuable insight from these conversations. You can easily do something similar with your customers.

What one-to-one marketing opportunities have you created in your own business? Tell us in the comments below.