Continue the Conversation: Marketing to Current Customers
05.20.2011 / Posted in Articles, Strategy
Marketing is an intense courtship (as is sales, if it’s part of the customer-acquisition equation). The company puts its best face forward, woos and wows, flirts and flaunts, and showers the prospect with such affection that he or she is so flattered, enticed, and hungry for what’s offered that the deal is sealed.
The problem: After the deal is done, the wooing often stops. (Sorry, friends, if this is hitting too close to home for some of you.)
What a shame! Current customers are your best prospects. They’ve already bought into your product or service. They’ve drunk the proverbial Kool-Aid. If you keep them happy and continue the conversation, they’re likely to buy again—and they’re likely to recommend you to others.
So what happens to your clients once they become clients? Do you have a client communications strategy? Should you? As you review what’s in place or begin to create a strategy from scratch (and FrogDog can help), here are some brainstorming points:
I Should Have Gone Ahead with Package A
Once a customer makes a purchase, there’s almost always a period of implementation or integration that ensues. Products often require installation, or setup, or education. The client has to incorporate the item into his or her life. If it’s a service, the client may not be clear as to what to expect first—or next—or, if parts of the process happen out of sight, what’s happening when.
Customers experience the greatest deflation in purchase satisfaction during this integration period. They’re anxious that they spent a lot of money on something that they aren’t sure is worth the hassle.
So what do you do at this point? Ignore them? Great idea.
Consider what your customers experience after they buy from you, during the integration period. How can you make the experience better? Stabilizing the good-feelings crash that happens post-purchase is important for the sake of the relationship—and your top line.
Customers that stay positive from the beginning will buy again—and they may even immediately buy something they passed up during the buying process. (How many of you wished you’d bought the assembly service from IKEA after you stared at the cryptic diagram and half-dozen Allen wrenches?)
Yeah, I’ll Send You Their Contact Info
The second a client signs up is the moment they’re the most happy with your company and what they signed up for. If you can keep them out of the post-purchase funk described above through continued wooing, they’ll likely turn into the most valuable customer possible: the evangelist.
Evangelist clients are so excited about your company and what it does that they talk you up to people they know. They extol your virtues. They exhort their contacts to buy from you.
This is marketing nirvana. However, clients who talk about you may not be the best at following up. Dinner-table chit-chat may not turn into an e-mail that has your company’s URL in it, or the contact info for your sales staff. Everyone has promised to send a friend some info over drinks and promptly forgot at the end of the night.
So your customer communications strategy must include ways that make it super-easy to stay top of mind to your client base and ways to make it easy for them to refer you new business. Keep them informed about what you’re up to, and give them handy tools that make it easy for them to buzz about what you’re doing. (Posting Twitter handles in stores and restaurants, encouraging them to tweet about their experience, would be one example.)
They Do That Now, Too?
If you’ve maintained a dialogue with your customers to further the relationship, it’s a breeze to keep them in the loop about new products and services. Yet you’ll be surprised at how many companies kick off new initiatives without telling their current clients anything about them.
Customers who are happy with your work are likely to give your new offerings a chance. Consider marketing to current clients a critical part of your launch strategy. Some companies even introduce new products and services to customers first—it further builds the relationship, and the already-established dialogue makes it easy to get important feedback for crafting a launch campaign to new audiences.
Whether you present the new product or service to customers before you launch to the market at large or you launch for both groups at the same time, remember that these two classes are different audiences. You’re starting a conversation with prospects and continuing one with clients. Your marketing messaging and tactics should be different for each group.
Every business has a different set of circumstances in which it has acquired and maintained its customer base. However you got them, don’t stop the conversation once they’ve come aboard. Ensure your marketing strategy and plan address current and recent clients. Doing so conserves valuable marketing resources. After all, it’s easier to keep a customer and expand his or her relationship with your company than it is to acquire a new one.
Not sure where to start? FrogDog can help. Call us today!