Down with the Masses
Most business owners view America as a 309+ million person mass market. But if we’ve learned anything from the recent economic mess we’re in, there are no mass answers. Whether you’re talking about gender, income or even regions, just remember everyone in those groups is an individual. So stop looking for mass solutions with your marketing. Don’t be afraid to focus on small markets, especially since your competitors probably cater to the masses. You could easily corner the market in a small niche and make more sales from fewer clients.
Follow this Template
Build your database, or “house file,” on every client you have, with fields indicating what makes them unique. Fill out more details by surveying them, asking questions relevant to your business. Obviously, the more information you keep about your clients, the more personalized your marketing. Since most people, clients included, are reluctant to answer surveys, send along a crisp $1 bill. This creates a sense of reciprocity. To make it look less like a bribe, include a note saying they could give the dollar to a child or someone in need. But keep your survey short – four or five questions is plenty.
Getting clients to buy once is nice, but when they buy again and again, your business really takes off. Now that you have a database, stay in regular contact with your clients through a self-published newsletter or via email. Connect with them on LinkedIn and Twitter. Post interesting articles, news, and announcements of relevant events they’d be interested in. Even offline postcard marketing works, and depending on your business, may be the best $0.44 you spend. The key to staying in touch is technology — using the right system can put most of your follow-up marketing on autopilot, with you just needing to create the message. Keeping existing clients is much more lucrative than finding new ones.
Practice Asking Why
When you do lose a client, perform an “exit interview,” like most large employers do, and find out the reasons why they left. Your goal isn’t to win them back, it’s to change the perception future clients will have of your business. You can always send “lost” clients a reactivation letter or series of offerings down the road, even announcing the solution to the problem that caused them to leave. Here’s a trick most consultants won’t know (or won’t tell you): be your own client. Shop where they shop, observing how they, as clients, are treated, looking at what they spend money on, and at what kinds of services seem important.
The more you know about your clients and future prospects (since future prospects will look much like your existing clients), the easier they are to target and market. You’ll find it easier to then expand geographically, rather than demographically (all lawyers in PA vs. lawyers in Philadelphia). Your reputation of serving lawyers is easier to expand than it is to start over with accountants.
Instead of mass marketing, hone your efforts on keeping clients. It’s much easier to sell to someone who’s already bought from you.