Doing business the same old way, day in and day out-maintaining the status quo-equates to nothing more than a mediocre business. In today's competitive environment, you must continually reevaluate your business. Build a strong, enthusiastic customer base and you will flourish.
One successful approach to increasing your customer base is to learn about the customer. Know about their families, company histories, hobbies; use intuition and natural bonding processes. Women specialize in these says Aliza Pilar Sherman, in Selling Like a Girl (2008); men can be trained. Make your customers feel valued says mediator Elinor Robin, Ph. D. “customers soon forget what was said and charged; they remember how they felt. "
First, it's easier and less costly to keep an existing client. It is a fact that 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers. Building a loyal customer base is imperative for a growing business. Create realistic expectations and always live up to them or exceed them. Customer service is the lifeblood of a successful organization. APCO's CEO, Margery Kraus strives for a 95% satisfaction ratio in customer feedback. “An easy was to stay in touch is to survey your client/customer base. Use the survey results to gauge how well you are doing and make any necessary adjustments. " Survey your customers electronically.
Use customer case research (CCR) to let your customers make the case. Chart the trail of circumstances, events, people, experiences, actions, or thoughts that led them to buy a product or service. Let them tell their stories in their own words. CCR concentrates on the customers other experiences. Review shopping lists, vendor files, and catalogues used. Create relatedness.
A third method is recommended by Barb Mulhern, president of LR Editorial & Consulting, Inc. , an editorial and safety consulting firm; simply put: “diversify. When I started out, 90% of my business came from one client. " There were nerve-wracking weeks when contracts were due for next year's service “and I realized the importance of having more than one major client. We signed them eventually, but in the 15 years since I learned how to find many customers. They are your bread and butter. "
The fourth method of building your customer base is to become a media maven. Learn print, electronic media, broadcast (TV and radio) and all other arenas. Trade shows, customer events, mail and web services. Learn to trim and pare your message-then everyone should hear it. Learn to deliver a 60 second elevator speech to show a total stranger what you do. And try splitting advertising costs with suppliers. You'll reach more prospects.
Robbi Gunter is a staff writer for Strong Business Credit , a free educational web resource for small business owners and businesses seeking to obtain business financing and credit cards.