According to the experts at Inc. Magazine, it’s far cheaper (and, over the long term, much more effective for the bottom line), for a company to invest in pursuing revenue from existing customers, rather than purely investing its entire sales and marketing budget in the acquisition of new customers.
If that is the case, then the question becomes how to do so. How, exactly, can we effectively and reliably increase revenue from existing customers – without alienating them and without upsetting the business processes and activities associated with acquiring new ones? Here are some proven ideas worth considering:
Increase Options at the Time of Purchase
The best time to attract new revenue from existing customers is, first and foremost, when they are buying from you the first time. Despite your inclinations to the contrary, once a customer has firmly decided to purchase from your business, they are usually more than happy to consider complementary add-on purchases seriously, when it makes sense to do so.
In the retail market, this trust has been betrayed by the proliferation of obnoxiously overburdened point-of-sale displays and, of course, the universally despised “extended warranty” up-sell. But these two examples fail because they add little, if any, true value. Replace those with actual products or services that create a smart bundle (such as a camera add-on kit that includes a telephoto lens, cleaner, high-quality camera case and an extra digital SD card), and you have a winner by expanding the scope of the solution you provide.
Get to Know Your Customers and Expand Your Reach
Learn about your customers! Profile them fully by using market research, customer surveys and informal conversations to get to know them. In particular, look for common characteristics about how they live or work, as well as what they need and buy. For example, if you sell hand-built country furniture that has a particularly strong appeal to rural residents who run active farms or farmettes, consider partnering with an agricultural supply company and showcasing your products in retail displays or in photos on your website that include these implements and tools, while offering your customers a preferred discount or benefit for shopping with both companies.
Communicate to Customers About Loyalty Offers
The next key step is to share loyalty offers with your existing customers. Of course, that requires you to communicate with your existing customers to begin with. If you’re not, then start doing so! If you are, then begin offering them added value through a variety of options. Start a customer loyalty rewards program or use your email marketing list to feed special offers and limited-time prices to your existing buyers. Give them time-based return offers to encourage them to come back in the next week or month. And invite them to special events such as the introduction of a new product line or an opportunity to meet the designers or workers behind the products they enjoy.
Create Community with Your Customers
You can also be transmitting and disseminating information between and among your customers. Consider branding this process around a community-building concept. For example, luxury men’s grooming products brand The Art of Shaving manages a program called “The Brotherhood of Shaving” which includes access to exclusive offers, VIP invitations to events and product launches, and expert advice and tips on men’s grooming.
Define Your Category with Solutions, Not Just Products
Remember, customers become more engaged with brands that emphasize solutions for their business needs or personal lifestyles. Anything you can do to create a ‘solution space’ for your brand will strengthen customer engagement and future repeat business.
For example, Regus, a company that rents serviced offices to businesses worldwide, gives its customers access to a network of products and services (such as Staples, American Express and FedEx) to emphasize that Regus is the brand that helps improve the efficiency of your business. Efficiency involves speed, information, travel and access to the right tools for the job – so Regus uses brand extension through its partner network to deliver just that.
Make it Easy for Customers to Come Back and Buy Again
This may seem obvious, but alas, it is often not. Can your customers easily return to your company in person or online and buy again? Do you maintain customer accounts with their preferences and details securely saved? Is your e-commerce website mobile-friendly so that customers can buy from you when they are on-the-go? Do you offer scheduled repeat purchases or the option of creating a ‘buy later’ list that customers can use again and again? Can your customers reach and rely on the same sales or customer service person(s) with whom they have worked successfully in the past?
From the initial purchase through the lifecycle of your customer, make sure your company is finding and pursuing every appropriate opportunity to engage existing customers in effective, exciting and engaged future purchases.