Back in the late 1990s, I used to manage a Computer Retail shop in Perth City (right on Hay St, in front of Central Park). We were a big firm, with 4 branches in Perth and over 60 outlets across Australia (they went down the tubes later, but that’s a story for another day…)
I had 4 sales staff working for me and we sold PC’s, laptops, software, printers and all sorts of other computer-related products.
We had 2 jobs there: (1) Sell the client some product/s, and…(2) Regardless of whether they brought or not, get them to sign up to receive our FREE print catalog, which was posted out monthly from Head Office in Melbourne.
#2 was an amazingly POWERFUL tool for us, because it put our name and product offerings in front of literally 1000s of prospective and real clients each and every month.
That catalog brought in a HEAP of additional business that we would have missed out on, if we hadn’t been sending them one each month. After all, it’s not like we were the only computer shop in entire city of Perth – there were plenty of choices…
I learned 2 vital marketing & business lessons that year: Just because someone doesn’t buy straight away, doesn’t mean they’ll never buy from you, as long as you maintain contact with them (it just has to be the right time and right offer for them). AND, once they buy from you, they trust you much more and it’s easier to get them to come back and buy more products!
One of the most powerful ways to improve option 3 is by developing a database of past, present and future clients, and keeping in regular contact with them, to encourage them to make more purchases.
Studies have shown it’s up to 7 times easier to sell something new to an existing customer than to make the first sale to a new customer.
Yet, so many businesses just focus on getting that next new customer instead of also developing a strategy to keep selling to their current clients.
The VAST majority of businesses do NOT do this very well, or at all, so it’s a powerful strategy that can make a big difference to your profits.
And, if the voice in your head is currently saying something like: “We have a product or service that people only ever buy 1 of” then stop and think hard.
Is that really true? Or, with a little brainstorming, could you figure out some way to sell again and again to current clients. Don’t forget referrals as well – even if they only ever buy once from you, they can still refer new clients to you, which is a great way to get customers without spending big.
Think about car dealerships or real estate businesses. They both sell big ticket items, and the vast majority of people don’t buy lots of cars and real estate…
However, in their lifetime, most people WILL buy a 2nd car, or sell their first house and purchase a second one, and so forth.
If you are not keeping in contact with your past clients, you are MISSING out on a golden opportunity to boost sales & referrals!
If you view a first purchase from a new client as the START of a great relationship, and maintain contact with that client in a positive, helpful, respectful way, over time that client will make more purchases from you and/or will refer new contacts to you.
The problem is, keeping in contact with clients can be expensive and time consuming.
Whether you print & post a newsletter or physical catalog (like Dick Smith does), or fax out regular specials, it costs a fair bit of money, especially if you do it regularly.
The reality is that this is a MAJOR reason why many businesses don’t maintain ongoing communication with their clients – the cost factor.
The other reason is time – they often don’t feel they have time to do this, what with all their daily tasks that always seem urgent.
Have you ever wondered if there was a way to bypass both these limitations, so that you CAN keep in touch with clients at a low cost and with minimal time expenditure?
If so, then here’s the good news:
These days, one of the most cost effective methods of maintaining contact with clients is via email. Essentially each message costs nothing to send – you just need a system in place to set up and manage it all. Creation of client database, planning the messages you’ll send, sending those messages, monitoring results, and keep going until they die or quit.
E-mail marketing delivers a $51.45 return on investment (ROI) for every marketing dollar spent, according to the Direct Marketing Association.
Further, a survey of 55,000 consumers by Decision Direct Research revealed that the number of respondents that visited a Web site when they received an e-mail promotion increased to 62 percent in 2007.
And the time issue can be overcome by outsourcing the workload to someone else, only leaving you to let them know what you want to say to your clients with each message.
Whether you send them upcoming special offers (or discount vouchers), or just tell them a fun story about something that happened at your work or give suggestions for getting the best out of the product they purchased off you originally, you will still be adding value to their life, which will ultimately turn into repeat business.
You can develop your own email database system to keep in contact with clients for a fairly low cost, but you need to have the time and expertise to make it work.
Also, there are legal issues you NEED to be aware of when heading down this path. It’s so easy to get into trouble for spamming, and the legal penalties for that are severe these days.
Yes, you can pop everyone’s email address into your Outlook address book & do a manual send every now and then, but what happens when you accidently cross the line and get reported by someone having a bad hair day?
As the old saying goes, ignorance of the law is NOT an excuse!
Something else to consider, while we’re on this path. Yes, building a list of your clients should be priority #1, but don’t forget your prospects – the lookers, the tyre kickers, the maybes…
Each of these people are not ready to buy now, for whatever reason, so rather than lose them forever, why not give them a great reason to sign up to your newsletter or special offers program and you’ll be able to keep in contact with them for as long as they’re willing to let you email them.
You’ll find that if you send them fun, interesting, informative and valuable information, at some stage some of them will turn into paying customers, simply because they have grown to know and trust you and the time (or offer) is right for them.
Ideally, you should separate your mailing lists so that only clients are in one and “prospects” are in the other.
Treat your clients as SPECIAL – more important than prospective clients. Give them the best price breaks and deals, the best service and make them feel like they truly matter to you. In return, they’ll buy regularly from you AND refer people they know as well!
Lastly, if you have a website for your business, you should add a sign-up or registration form to your site, encouraging visitors to signup to your newsletter or special offers program. That way, you don’t waste site visitors AND you can be growing your database hands-off 24 hours a day, 365 days a year!
If you don’t have your own website to provide the form allowing clients to register, go and download my free ebook on how to build your own website.
OK readers, that’s the end of my free report on beating tough economic times with low – no cost advertising and marketing methods.
If you have any questions about anything mentioned in these 10 chapters, please just leave a comment below the specific post you want clarity on, and I’ll do my best to provide an answer for you.