Do you remember that Nationwide advert that had the tagline “Brand new customers only”? It succeeded because it hit a nerve. People were fed up with the idea that attracting new and shiny customers was more important than looking after the ones they already had.
When you think about it, looking after your existing customers isn’t just polite, it makes good business sense. You’ve invested time and money in marketing or networking to change that person from a lead into a customer, so why waste it? Your existing customers already know, like and trust you and you can build on that. So how do you go about it?
It’s all about value
There are a lot of similarities between content marketing and taking good care of your existing customers. Content marketing allows you to build a trusting relationship by sharing your expertise. Your prospects can see that you understand their problems and will offer a solution. Showing existing customers that you will continue to provide them with valuable information demonstrates that you’re not just looking to take their money and run.
This can take any form you like; sending regular updates, sharing blogs or even emailing a contact directly with an interesting article that’s relevant to their business. You don’t have to generate all of the content yourself. The fact that you’ve taken the trouble to get in touch keeps you at the forefront of your existing customers’ minds. It’s easy to assume that they will remember you and get in touch if they need your services again, but that isn’t always the case. The marketplace is crowded and there will always be a competitor with a tempting new offer. Reminding your existing customers of the service you provided increases the prospects of securing repeat business. If you’d like to know how this can fit into a marketing strategy that avoids the hard sell, you can get sign up for a copy of my free guide on the subject here
If you’d told me eighteen months ago that I would grow to love networking, I would have laughed in your face. The idea of standing around a room trying to make small talk with people I’d never met before was my idea of hell. Then I decided to become self-employed and realised that if I couldn’t talk to people face to face I would be creating huge problems for myself.
Initially I thought, quite logically, that I could network in writing. That is, after all, how I communicate best. The reason I became a solicitor and not a barrister is because I do better with a written statement than I do with a spoken argument. I didn’t do badly when I had to speak during hearings, I just realised that I couldn’t spend my entire life with my heart pounding in my throat.
Talking to people
Then I realised that writing isn’t just about writing. It’s about engaging with people. Whilst it’s true that publishing a blog post or LinkedIn article gives me the opportunity to reach a bigger audience, it’s often speaking to people about my work that helps them to understand it. After all, you’re not going to read something if you don’t think it applies to you.
So, I grasped the nettle and headed out into the world. Firstly to networking events with other creatives and then to an expo where I could terrify myself by wandering around stalls and talking to people who still had corporate jobs. Finally, I found a networking group where I could have a lovely lunch and talk to like-minded business women. They’re not frightening at all. Well, most of the time.
Looking after my networking contacts
Now that I’ve been out networking, what am I left with? Well, the first thing I’m left with is a big pile of business cards to sort through. I’m trying to be disciplined and add them to my contacts list as well as sorting the cards into boxes. I have dividers for clients, potential clients and people whose services I might need one day. That’s not to say there isn’t any overlap, but it makes it easier to search through them.
I also have to think about how to look after my contacts and keep in touch with them generally.
Do you have an email list? Is it bringing you much business? I admit that I probably don’t do enough to look after my subscribers so if any of you are reading, sorry! I’ve resolved to get better at using email. For one thing, I want to be helpful. If there are people on my subscriber list who just want to know about blogging, there’s no point me writing to them about time management.
At the moment, I send out a monthly update which has the same content for everyone. I know I should do things differently so I’ve resolved to improve. If you’re just sending out a newsletter once a month (or less), read on. I’m learning from my mistakes so you can too…