April 21, 2014
You know how to finish that sentence. Are you marketing to existing customers enough?
If you’re old enough to remember when “shopping” meant going to a mall or your city’s downtown, you’re probably astounded by the voluminous buying options the internet has spawned. You may be able to still buy from your old favorite retailers online, but do you?
Maybe you do, but you may also have replaced your old brick-and-mortar stores with the web’s new merchants. Because of email and online advertising and social media, you probably frequent some of the same sites consistently because of their prices, their product lines and their customer service.
Are you doing the same with your own customers? Look at your own experience as a shopper to see that familiarity often breeds loyalty. There’s a good reason why merchants are so eager to market to their existing list, like you should be doing: It’s much cheaper to bring an existing customer to the buying stage than to attract a new one.
Certainly, you need to do both. But look at your sales and marketing strategies to see if you’re incorporating practices like:
- Reminding them that you’re there. This tactic has worked on me with companies that I’d gladly buy from again, but which just haven’t been on my radar for awhile. If you have a modest-sized web-based storefront, you probably do this through occasional emails and special events for existing customers. If you sell big-ticket items, it’s worth picking up the phone or sending a handwritten note when a respectable period of time has passed since their last purchase.
- Upselling. You probably experience this when you run into a convenience store to get a 12-pack of soda after you’ve filled your car’s tank. Did you want a lottery ticket or some snacks to go with your soda? Strategically-placed impulse buys at retail stores must net big bucks for their owners. Amazon is king here when it comes to online upselling, but many other web-based merchants offer specially-priced bundles and suggest complementary purchases.
- Showcasing your entire product and service lines. I buy the same product from a vendor every few months, which happens to be at the top of a page. Recently, I scrolled down a bit and found something else that I could use that had been there for a long time. Do you find ways to let customers know what else you sell, even if it doesn’t fall into their buying patterns? In a retail outlet, rotate stock frequently. On a web storefront, find better ways to display what’s there. Certainly, make sure that new offerings are positioned prominently at their introduction.
- Taking advantage of effective timing. When you highlight products or services is almost as important as what you’re selling. Your emails, flyers, store layout, special promotions and stock changes can all tie into some season or event or even time of the day or day of the week. Consider giving existing customers early previews and buying opportunities.
Treat your existing customers like you treat your friends. You know that you’re likely to get acquainted with new people throughout your life, just as you’ll attract new customers, but always be trying to expand your relationships.