You probably already know who your best source of more business, more leads, more referrals and more growth is, right? Yes, it’s your current customers.
If you’ve grown complacent with your current customers, often a symptom of an up market, now is the time to go back to this precious resource and beg forgiveness. Or, at least, set up some processes to capture their hearts and minds before they drift away.
Find out what they think
The Best Research You Can Do - The next time a customer refers someone to you run to the phone and ask them why. Ask them what it is that you do that made them think you worthy of such an honor. Ask them the exact words they used when then told the referral prospect about you.
It’s my belief that most small businesses don’t fully understand what makes them special or unique, but their ideal customers do. I suggest that you call up 10 of your best customers and ask them why they hired you in the first place, why they stick with you, what you do that others don’t.
This kind of research is the best way to find the core marketing message your business must embrace to stand out and attract your ideal customers.
Make them part of the team
Your Marketing Board - Customers that love to tell you what they think, good and bad, are a blessing for your business. Tap this resource by putting together an informal marketing board made up of you most loyal and vocal customers. Bring them together about once a quarter and let them weigh in on your marketing initiatives. You will find that this group may become some of your best advisers and word-of-mouth lead generators.
Testimonials and Case Studies - For every happy customer there should be a testimonial of results and perhaps even a full-blown written, audio and/or video example in the form of a simple case study. Involve your customers in this process and use their testimony in various formats.
Equip them to sell for you
Basic Education - Take the time to do two things with every customer. Teach them exactly who makes a great lead for your business and how to correctly introduce your business to a prospect. Give them the tools to do this whenever the occasion arises. Get passionate about measuring, reviewing and reporting the results you have created on behalf of your customers. Set up routine meeting to go over these.
Peer-2-Peer Education - This is a pretty involved way to get your customers on the sales team, but done correctly, it is very powerful. Invite several happy customers to participate in a panel discussion on some issue in their business or industry and include four or five prospects as well. The discussion should revolve completely around solving issues and discussion challenges with peers - the key is that your products and services can be positioned (without any selling on your part) as the solution by your happy customers. This can even be done in person or via webinar
Build a customer community
Once a quarter or once a year invite some or all of your customers to enjoy a great speaker, lunch, drinks or to paint the day care center at the local community center. There is something magical about this type of community building and it always produces loyalty and referrals as a side benefit.
Send hand-written notes of appreciation - It’s amazing how this simple gesture stands out these days.
I know you’ve got a thousand other things tugging at your time and attention, but every minute you invest in your current customers will come back to you tenfold. Hey, and even though I was speaking figuratively about the hug part, we can all use a literal hug too, so don’t overlook that one!