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GAINING AND RETAINING CUSTOMERS

You spend a lot of time, effort and money in gaining new customers but have you considered growing your business without putting the emphasis on marketing for new customers?

On average, a business loses up to 20% of its customers annually (for some it is as high as 80%). Do you fully understand how much ‘value’ is lost to your business by losing customers?

Well, imagine two businesses, one that retains 90% of its customers, the other retains 80%. If both add new customers at the rate of 20% per year, the first will have a 10% net growth in customers per year, while the other will have none. Over seven years, the first firm will virtually double, while the second will have no real growth. Everything else being equal, that 10% advantage in customer retention will result in a doubling of customers every seven years without doing anything else.

To keep your customers loyal the most important thing to do is to stay in touch with them – a simple but often overlooked strategy.  Keeping in regular contact with your customers will help you to build a one-on-one relationship with them.

Regular contact can be made through letters, direct mail pieces, phone calls, visits, surveys, newsletters, catalogues and will reinforce in your customer’s mind that your business is interested in assisting their needs.

To do this you need an active database of customers with up to date contact details.  Do you have such a database – and do you use it to maintain contact with your customers?  It will allow you to notify your customers of specials or up and coming events and possibly re-activate customers who may not have purchased from your business for a period of time.

Social media has a role to play and it sorrows me to see how misused it can be as a marketing tool. I receive loads of tweets, blogs, ‘likes’ and requests to become a ‘friend’ from complete strangers in what are often thinly disguised sales plugs.  Used thoughtfully, social media can be a great way to keep up to date with your existing customers who are far more likely to read items from people they know.

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