Even now with hundreds of clients, I've learned that maintaining a steady stream of new customers is crucial for maintaining current work levels, encouraging growth and ensuring long-term success. Although acquiring new customers has proven key, finding them may be challenging.
With rising competition and saturated markets, it may be difficult to acquire new customers, especially if they're currently working with a competitor. But what about those who are unhappy with the current service they're receiving from your competition? While marketing to these unhappy clients often remains difficult, you may actually have a chance.
One benefit of marketing toward your competition's unhappy clients is that they may already be convinced they need the service you offer, and are willing to pay for it. The downside is that customers who have had bad relationships with other companies may be jaded and suspicious of vendors. Here are three steps you can take to help win over your competitor’s unhappy customers.
Make Right What Your Competitor Does Wrong
Many business owners keep a close watch on their competition. They may know when their competition opens a second store or launches a new website.
It’s not so much about the dollar amount you put into your marketing—it’s more about the thoughtfulness and effort.
Just as you keep an eye on new things happening with your competitors, it may help to be attentive to recurring complaints from their ex-customers. Maybe you’ve talked to several prospects that were your competition’s customers at some point. Identifying the pain points they're experiencing may help you respond accordingly.
For example, if the common issue with your competitor is long response times, you might stay on top of communication and respond to your potential client's questions immediately. If it’s a lack of personal touch, you might remember little things about your prospect to make them feel like you really care about them and are paying close attention. If it’s long wait lines, consider having a plan for how to handle this and avoid making them wait.
By making things right where your competition goes wrong, you may show your competition’s former clients that you truly are different and can be trusted to have their business.
Outmarket Your Competition
While you might think this means you need to outspend your competition to win over their unhappy customers, that isn't necessarily the case. Outmarketing your competition may be done through cost-effective or even free methods. It’s not so much about the dollar amount you put into your marketing—it’s more about the thoughtfulness and effort.
While your competition may be well known because of their brand name, an unhappy customer may start looking elsewhere when the relationship gets rocky. This is when you can shine. It may help to clearly differentiate yourself from your competition by communicating your message and philosophy across all channels available: your blog, e-books, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Free social media sites may be a great resource.
The goal here is to do more than your competition. By being out there—whether at trade shows, chamber events, on your blog, a weekly newsletter or LinkedIn posts—you may be just where you need to be when that unhappy customer starts looking for a new partner.
Be an Innovator
You don't have to create the next big thing. The idea is to continue to perfect your product, process and people to be the best at what you do. No matter how tough the competition, focusing on finding solutions to industry problems may help you succeed.
Not only can this help you get your business to a new level, you may have raving customers who may help you win over new clients.
Acquiring new customers may be a challenge, but winning over your competitor’s unhappy customers may help you grow your own customer base. By taking note of your competitor’s weaknesses, outmarketing them and racing ahead, you may get noticed and win over their unhappy clients, who might then become your happy customers.
Read more articles on customer engagement.
A version of this article was originally published on August 3, 2015.