Customer marketing is one of the most important, and often overlooked, elements of a marketing plan. Your existing customers are the people who pay your bills folks! But, more than this, they are the foundation of your reputation, your word of mouth, and your product development. Your marketing plan needs to factor in elements that ensures that your customers remember why they bought from you in the first place. Forgetting customer marketing is Leak #1 in the Watertight Marketing Thirteen Touchpoint Leaks. I’ve asked Certified Practitioner, Rachael Wheatley, to run through the ways we can all do this. ~ Bryony Thomas

Once someone becomes a customer of yours, how do you keep in contact with them? For many businesses, customers are simply a pool of people to sell more stuff to. Email offers abound for up-sells and add-ons. For many other businesses, a customer simply falls off the marketing agenda altogether… they’ve bought, tick, job done.

What do you do to keep on their radar?  And, how do you deal with their queries or, heaven forbid, concerns?

When thinking about keeping your customers loyal there are two areas to consider before you even think about selling them anything more:

  1. Your customer service, and making yourself available and,
  2. Your customer communications, how you stay in touch with them.

How does customer service support customer marketing?

Your on-going service is part of what customers pay for – and the lack of it can easily be the reason customers are won over by another company.  It’s not only problems that will be the trigger for them to want to speak to you. They might have a question or there might be a change their end which prompts an additional requirement. For most businesses, a three-tier level of service will work well: self-serve, by email, by phone. Think about how to deal with different situations that might occur and how you would deal with them:

  • Problems or mistakes made – how available do you need to be and what channels will you use (email, phone number, social media, online chat); if customers are likely to phone up and show their annoyance, do your staff all know how to deal with them; at what stage might you need to make a site visit.
  • Questions – is it worth putting on your website the answers to frequently asked questions or articles and videos to explain ‘how to’?
  • New requirements – are there seasonal needs which will arise that you could anticipate or particular issues that typically come up for customers, for instance when a new person joins their team?
  • Tracking satisfaction – what is a good way, for your business, of making sure your customers are happy? It could be anything from questionnaires, one key question asked, mystery shopping, face to face client interviews, account manager; chat to them if you see usage falling off.

Customer Marketing Example: I was working for a company once who was selling an annual service.  I mapped out for them what happened once their customers signed up. What I found was that there was generally no communication between the first invoice and the renewal invoice a year later. And, one of the problems they had was a big drop-off in renewals of the service.  What we put in place for them was series of touchpoints so that, not only would customers be reassured just after they had paid their first invoice, but that the company was regularly in touch so that it was easy to raise queries or issues. We also put in place follow-up calls to customers one month and three months after the start of the service to check all was well and whether they had any questions about how to get the most from the service.

Keeping in contact is critical to effective customer marketing

Some businesses find it hard keep in contact.  This can be for all sorts of reasons: it’s a manual process so time-consuming; can’t think of anything to say; forget; they tend to buy on a one-off basis. But not only do you want to make sure that your customers are reassured that they’ve done the right thing in choosing you, but you also want to keep on their radar so that they think of you the next time they want to buy something that you sell.

The premise of keeping in contact is to find something that is valuable, relevant or interesting. Many businesses only get in touch with a special offer on another product, or an up-sell. This is like the friend who only calls when they want something!

How about turning this around, and getting in touch with something useful or fun they might actually enjoy? If how you’re communicating with them isn’t any of these, how likely are they to read it, see it, register it? Some ideas on how to keep in contact are:

  • Develop a library of content that you can draw on as necessary.
  • Give your customer early access to any of your materials.
  • Have a login space for special customer-only content.
  • Create a customer-only group on Facebook or LinkedIn.
  • Share and comment on the materials they put out.
  • Invite them to an event you are going to that you think they’d like.
  • Encourage them to sign up to a specific series of emails on a given topic.
  • Messages on invoices and login screens (even if it’s to wish them a happy summer holiday).
  • Let them know about other services or products that they would genuinely find relevant.
  • Leave a testimonial on their LinkedIn about working with them.
  • Ask them for a testimonial or review.
  • Send them a thank you card.
  • Mention them or congratulate them in public for something good that’s happened to them.
  • Buy something from them.
  • Refer someone to them and let them know that you’ve done it.
  • Send them a gift.

Brainstorming ideas and identifying where there might be gaps is a great way of getting people in your business to work together. Then sharing out the actions means that you can put in place at least some of these new things immediately. It’s only when you do this sort of legwork, that the renewals and up-sells are going to even stand a chance.

The other key to communicating with customers is consistency. Once a year isn’t frequent enough for them to remember you, but once a week is probably too much.  However, many businesses assume what, and how often, customers want to receive something. Give your customers a choice at the outset – and give them access to update their preferences easily and regularly, ways that they can opt in or out.

© Watertight Marketing Ltd 

By Rachael Wheatley, Watertight Marketing Certified Practitioner.
Rachael is a strategic marketing consultant in the South West with a particular strength for integrating sales and marketing for long-term commercial success. She focuses on knowledge businesses and professional services. See Rachael’s full profile

Questions? Drop Rachael a line on Twitter @bluegreenlearn

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