Your Most Valuable Business Asset

Joe Love

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Your customer database is one of the most valuable business assets you have. If you are able to keep your customers for many years and do business with them repeatedly you have a foundation that will keep your business growing and prospering long into the future.

What information should your database contain:

* The names and addresses of all your active customers, that is anyone who has made a purchase from you in the past year. Your file should also include the phone and fax numbers, and e-mail addresses of all your active customers. To keep this data up to date and accurate, make sure you review it a least once a year.

* The names, addresses, phone, and fax numbers of all your inactive customers, that is, those people who haven’t purchased anything from you in over a year.

In addition your database should have a section for good customers and one for customers who are not good. For example, customers who are not so good would be those who don’t pay their bills on time, who complain a lot, and people who order but cancel. When you who know who these difficult people are, it’s easier to avoid wasting time or money on them.

You should have all this basic information in a secure database on your computer. If you don’t have this information in your database, then you need to reconstruct it from invoices or any other records you’ve kept regarding people who have purchased from you.

If you haven’t kept good records and can’t reconstruct the data about your customers or clients, then start from scratch and ask every customer you deal with to give you their name, address, phone and fax number, and e-mail address. You must do that with each customer.

When you are capturing there information it is always good to ask them for their birth day (not year) as well, because when you know their birth day, you can send them a gift of some kind each year, or at the very least, send them a birthday card. It’s a nice personal touch that will set you apart from your competitors.

It is very important that your database also includes a record or each purchase a customer has made, what they purchased, and the date when they purchased it. This information is very valuable because it will show you a person’s buying habits, and once you know their buying habits, you can position yourself to sell into and around the pattern.

For example, if you notice that Customer X bought many of the vegetable-seed packets that you sold in your nursery last year, you should call, send a letter, or e-mail to Customer X a week or two before you take delivery on next year’s seed packets. If customer X is really into gardening, he or she will love you for giving him or her an early alert, and this customer will probably make an even bigger purchase of seeds the second time around. In addition, Customer X might buy some gardening tools or perhaps one of the new gardening manuals that you hope to have on display next season.

You need to know who buys more than anyone else. But it’s important to separate out the names of those heavy buyers because they deserve more of your personal attention. High volume customers are the people most likely to respond to an add-on offer or an up sell or cross sell on a special promotion. Those are the customers or clients you should put in the hands of your strongest salespeople.

It’s important to realize that your database is universal. Once you know who your biggest and best customers are, you can contact them by phone, letter, fax, or e-mail, or by a personal visit and sell them things even before you have to lay out money for inventory.

Database marketing means classifying the customers you have by studying what they buy. It means marketing in a targeted way to your big customers, your little customers, your multiple-purchase customers, your single purchase customers, and to the people who haven’t bought yet. Target each of those segments separately, and tailor your selling messages specifically to that segment.

Start focusing on your biggest and best customers today, because that is where you will make the easiest and most profitable new sales.

Copyright© 2005 by Joe Love and JLM & Associates, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.

Joe Love draws on his 25 years of experience helping both individuals and companies build their businesses, increase profits, and achieve total success. He is the founder and CEO of JLM & Associates, a consulting and training organization, specializing in personal and business development. Through his seminars and lectures, Joe Love addresses thousands of men and women each year, including the executives and staffs of many of America’s largest corporations, on the subjects of leadership, self-esteem, goals, achievement, and success psychology.

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