Almost three quarters of companies believe it is cheaper to retain existing customers than acquire sales from new sources, making it more cost-effective for small firms to target repeat custom. Here, we offer five tips to help build a positive and mutually beneficial customer/supplier relationship for small businesses.
Customers love to feel valued as individuals. Rewarding their loyalty and previous custom can help them feel as though they have been elevated to an exclusive club, reserved only for those with the foresight to do business with exceptional companies. Offer discount codes with order confirmations or on receipts – helping potentially encourage return custom.
Loyalty marketing has been in operation since at least the 1800s, with records showing US merchants offering copper tokens which could be used in exchange for items in their store from as early as 1793.
Helping to cultivate a closer, more trusting relationship with customers can help generate return custom. By addressing customers by name in marketing or advertising material, you can demonstrate how highly you value their custom.
If you are rolling out new offers to existing customers, try and shape the offers around their tastes and shopping history. A 40 year old woman who has bought shoes off you won’t appreciate being marketed a teenage boy’s cap – immediately removing the sense of personal service.
Rather than advertising your brand or company via traditional means (newsletter, mail shot), a more personalised approach may help you stand out from the crowd. A memorable and interesting promotional gift complete with branding can increase the efficacy of reaching out to your audience – a newsletter is far more likely to be thrown away than a useful pen. The more useful or unusual the promotional gift, the more likely the recipient will keep it near.
A spokesperson at Leighmans explains, “Marketeers, more than ever, are looking to differentiate with innovative, bespoke and above all applicable to the marketing requirements.”
Be More than a Shop
Offering additional value to your customers, rather than just advertisements about your products/services, can demonstrate integrity, knowledge and worth. If you are a wholesale coffee company, provide information about the process of farming, roasting and blending the bean or facts about coffee and the industry. This will demonstrate to your customer that you are an expert industry source. This strategy is a part of content marketing, a technique central to many successful brands’ business plans.
React to Feedback
Genuinely digesting customer feedback and reacting accordingly can help customers trust your brand and feel valued by you and your team. Where actionable, progressive and beneficial seek the input of existing customers and work it into your business model. Naturally, some customer requests will be impossible to implement, arbitrary or simply ridiculous – but some could genuinely improve business operations.
It is far easier to customise the business to the needs of the audience than to manipulate the audience to the structure and services of the business.