Remember in brownies as a kid we sang “ Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.” To succeed in small business, it is so important to focus not only on attracting new clients but also treating your old clients like gold. We know that it takes 8-10 times more to attract new clients than it does to retain current ones so here are a few strategies for making new friends and keeping the old.
New client acquisition
Business owners are always asking where to purchase that magic mailing list that they need to grow their business. Sadly, there is no such list. The best databases are built one person at a time. Here are a few strategies for growing a strong client community.
- Partner with other businesses to cross-pollinate lists. Create a mutually beneficial event or sales promotion with other local businesses who share your target market. This starts by shopping locally, building relationships and asking “what can I do for you?”
- Pay attention to people in your community. It is amazing how you can prospect from your own newspaper by sending a personal note to people who are featured. Most papers publish city leaders, individuals who have received promotions or done something newsworthy. Reach out to them.
- Get active. People like to do business with people they like so go make some new friends by speaking in your community and volunteering your time where you can. From running the school auction for your child to speaking at the rotary club, these acts will always be rewarded.
The Pareto Principle (also known as the 80-20 rule) states that roughly 80% of the outcomes come from 20% of the inputs. If you think about it, when you walk into your closet, you probably wear 20% of your clothes 80% of the time. By applying the Pareto Principle to your best clients, you can create loyalty and encourage referrals.
- Once a year, pull a report of what your clients have invested with your company. Send a gift to those top 20% who invest the most with you. Add a personal note and thank them for their business. This is a sincere gift, like you give to your favorite people during the year, not a special sale or offer. If you sell jewelry, give them an exclusive piece that they can’t purchase. At my boutique photography studio, we work with a local artist to create leaded-glass holiday ornaments with an image of their children. It is a sentimental touch that tugs on our clients’ heartstrings and reinforces their purchase every year when they decorate their tree.
- Make sure you are communicating with your community in a creative way. The days of firing out post cards to build your business are dwindling (thank goodness). If you invest your budget on fewer, beautiful and even interactive marketing and promotional pieces, you will build your brand, attract non-price sensitive buyers and create loyalty. The more bells and whistles to get your clients interacting with your brand, the better.
About the author
Sarah Petty is a highly-acclaimed speaker, author and coach who has inspired thousands of boutique business owners use beautiful marketing to take their business to the next level. Her expertise is based on over 20 years helping build the Coca-Cola brand, meeting the marketing goals of a top regional advertising agency’s clients and building her own successful boutique photography studio. You can learn more about Sarah at thejoyofmarketing.com