The struggle of most small businesses is continuing a flow of enquiries, customers and work on a ongoing basis.
Whilst much can be done to reach out to new prospective customers, and most marketing is focused outwardly on these types of activities, there is one way of boosting your client load and cashflow:
Re-engage past customers
“Profit in business comes from repeat customers, customers that boast about your project or service and bring friends with them” – W.Edward Deming
So how do you make the most of the clients you already have, or have served in the past? Here’s 5 ideas to re-engage past customers you can take action on today:
1. A quick phone call or email
Pick up the phone and touch base with your past customers and ask them how they’re getting on and if there’s anything you can do to help them. You might let them know that you’ve availability for work and if they’ve any opportunities coming up.
If you can offer something helpful to them during this communication, then do! For example, if I can let my past client’s know about a development in the world of social media that impacts their business and suggest a couple of tips, they’ll appreciate me taking the time to help them and are much more likely to consider engaging my services again.
Even if they’re not ready to work with you again, this builds goodwill and nurtures your relationship, and keeps you top of mind as and when they do need your support.
2. Market research
Whenever I am testing a new service, I conduct market research – surveys and phone calls with my audience and past clients to see what feedback they have and whether it’s something they’d find useful. Or, I’ll ask them what their current problems are in relation to what I offer as a business (social media training and content strategy) and what an ideal solution would look like.
If it’s the former, and I already have an idea, I have found that past client’s have been very receptive to booking the new service off the back of the discussion. In fact, recently I launched a 2-day business and marketing planning retreat abroad. Whilst conducting market research, I had one client ask me “when can we book this?”. We worked out details and they were my first client for the service.
Even if you don’t book a past client right off the mark when researching, it means you can take advantage of the idea.
3. Create a complimentary offering
What else is your customer struggling with that you can solve as a business? This is a question to ask yourself (and your past customers) so that you can create products and services they are most likely going to buy.
In the past I’ve assumed I know what my customers need, when in actual fact, they’ve needed something quite different. It was only when launching without doing the market research did I realise it was a flop. Now, I validate every idea and run it by past clients to make sure I’m solving problems they really need solving – because let’s face it, that’s what they’re going to pay you for.
So create a complimentary offering, based on what problems they need solving right now and pitch it to your past clients.
4. Send Christmas cards
Sending your clients an unexpected card or gift to acknowledge them is a really powerful way of staying top of mind and re-engaging them with your business. A simple Christmas Card is a great first step, or a thank you gift at the end of your time working together.
I even have a client in the wedding industry who sends anniversary cards to the couple’s they work with as a great way of keeping in touch – and they’ll often book them for other parties and celebrations as a result.
5. Referral scheme
“New Customers Come From The Action of Past Customers” – Eric Riles
Whilst your past customers may not be ready to re-engage at this point, if you’ve delivered a great service and results for them, they’re likely very happy to recommend and refer you to other people.
However, not every client is proactive in this, and they sometimes need a nudge. This could be simply by asking them to refer you or, setting up a referral scheme, whereby they benefit in some way (monetary or otherwise) for sending new business your way.
Whichever idea you decide to take forwards today, I recommend building it into your routine so it’s an ongoing way to generate business. That way it won’t become something you rely on during a lean patch.
Which of the five ideas can you adopt today for your business to start bringing in more work in the coming days and weeks? Let us know in the comments below.
Jen Smith coaches entrepreneurs in social media.