When I work with clients to build their outbound programs I always start with first things first…their installed base. The reasons to do this are two-fold. First, it demonstrates where they’ve been most successful and, if your know where to look, provides a blueprint to their ideal market. The second reason is it’s one of a company’s MOST important assets. Let me expand on this with some statistics from a CMO Council study*. Beware — these statements are a little scary.
- The average American company loses 1/2 its customers within 5 years
- Acquiring new customers can cost 5X more than retaining current customers.
- A business is 2X as likely to successfully sell to a lost customer than a brand new prospect
- A 2% increase in customer retention has the same effect on bottom line profits as cutting costs by 10%.
Given statistics like that, it only makes sense to interact and market to the people who buy your product. Here are the rules to live by:
- Segment your database by product and solution or vertical market and size of customers
- Know and understand your market and market to their interests (not what you think they are interested in)
- Build a quarterly plan and target goals by segments
- Build your communications plan to “Touch” your customers every 6-8 weeks (make sure they’ve opt’ed in to hear your message)
What kinds of materials and messaging are good to “push” to your customers?
- Newsletters that consolidate information such as PR and white papers, and news into one place either monthly or quarterly so you’re not spamming your customers all the time. Make sure you have a place for them to sign-up for your newsletter whenever you communicate with them.
- Promos and specials that are offered to your customers first
- Free product training to your top customers.
- Software or product updates or trial offers of new products
Social Media Keeps You Close to Customers
Use the Internet to interact with your customers and to monitor the health of your relationship. By using social media, you’ll know right away if there’s an issue that needs to be addressed.
- Twitter is useful for tech support and company news- make sure you FOLLOW your customers…so they in turn follow you
- FaceBook allows your customers to join your Fan page and enables communication whenever you want.
- Live chat on your website creates a two-way conversation and makes it easy for customers develop a conversation with your company.
- YouTube enables you to show a “demo” of your products or present your opinion to millions of your customers 24X7.
Start by acknowledging that your customers are your most important asset. Identify the segments within your installed base. Implement marketing programs that foster on-going, interactive customer relationships. Follow these simple rules to KEEP from losing your companies’ most important asset.
*Business Gain From How You Retain Executive Summary & Full Report, Addressing the Challenge of Customer Churn & Marketing Burn, CMO Council, http://www.cmocouncil.org/resources/download_retain.asp