Staying focused on your customers is critically important to keeping your business going during the current market environment and through any economic slowdown ahead. Typically, it can cost up to five times more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain a current customer*, so keep that in mind during new sales efforts.
Have a plan and commit to outreach
It’s an admittedly tough time for small businesses across the country. But as the economy begins to move once again, it’s important to have a rebuilding plan in place—and your plan should start with your current customers. Make sure your website is updated and, when possible, offer additional ways for customers to contact you and acquire your products or services. Develop a marketing schedule that includes frequent outreach using lower cost options such as email and social media.
Acknowledge the current situation
Your customers—like you—will have less money to spend in the coming months. It’s OK to acknowledge you understand their situation because you’re in it, too. Remind them, and yourself, you’ll get through these uncertain times together.
Communicate often and honestly—don’t be overly salesy
Even though you’re still selling, you’ll want to adjust your message. Recognize that everyone is distracted, and your message will need to resonate with them during a tumultuous time. Consider creating an e-ewsletter that allows you to easily update information. Offer your customers extras including bonus points, rewards, special offers, etc. Remember: Your customers are your lifeline.
Provide solutions and value
Rather than trying to sell, consider asking what your current customers need. Then adjust to accommodate them. Ask how and where they’re struggling, and listen with the intent to provide a solution to their problems in the context of your business. Offer your current customers the opportunity to consult with you over the phone or online. Can you provide your products or services in new ways to your best or most loyal customers?
Use social media to engage customers
If you aren’t already, begin telling your story through social media—but don’t conflate it with a “sales opportunity.” Use it to stay connected and in front of your customers by publishing regular updates, sharing product or service innovations, and promoting good news. You can learn more about your customers, survey their preferences, and respond to their reviews in real time.
Pick up the phone
Everyone's busy, but sometimes a break is just what people need. Pick up the phone and call your current customers. But rather than selling them, just ask how they’re doing and what you can do to help. This will strengthen your relationship while giving you some insight into their current situations. It may even open your eyes to new ways you can further support them. And be sure to follow up in the appropriate manner.
The bottom line
Implementing these tactics and positioning yourself well now will help you cultivate long-lasting relationships and build loyalty.
*Wertz, Jia. "Don't Spend 5 Times More Attracting New Customers, Nurture The Existing Ones.(opens in a new tab)" Forbes, Sept. 12, 2018.
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