There’s a big price difference between new clients and old clientss. In fact, on average, it costs 5-10 times more to acquire a new client than it does to retain an existing one. Once you capture prospects’ interest, it only makes sense to hold onto them. But with fierce competition and wishy-washy consumers who are easily swayed by competitor’s discount codes and freebies, that’s no easy feat these days—but it IS doable. The key is to convert prospects to lifelong clients. Below are the five no-fail ways to ensure your existing clients won’t stray.
Family is all about loyalty—and that’s why from the moment they first work with you, it’s critical to think of your clients as an extended member of your work family; after all, without their continued patronage, your business would cease to exist! So what exactly makes your clients feel like family?
A warm, inviting atmosphere. Whether they physically stop in or email, call, or Facebook message you, it’s important to maintain a warm, welcoming tone that conveys to your clients in a genuine way that you’re happy to hear from them and ready to help with whatever they need.
Get to know them. People love to feel like you’re personally vested in their lives, and if they’re like most people, they’re probably happy to share details about their family, work life, and interests. As you get to know clients on a more personal level, it doesn’t hurt to keep a few “refresher” notes on hand (i.e., marital status, number of children, current occupation, etc.) so you can ask more specific questions when you see them. A warm “How have you been?” is great, but even better are comments such as, “The last time we saw you, you were about to head on vacation, right? How was it? What’s been going on since?” Most clients will be thrilled that you can remember more personal details about them, which automatically gives them a more personalized experience.
Posting to social media is a nice thought—and absolutely encouraged for those times when your clients do happen to see your posts or check in directly with your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn page. But if you rely entirely on social media posts, and the measly organic reach you “gain” from them, you’ll reach just a small fraction of your clients…as in 3-4% of them. The other 96% of your client base whose home feeds simply don’t show your posts, unfortunately won’t see your attempts to connect with them…leaving them much more susceptible to jumping ship when a friendlier or more enticing competitor comes along and charms them with things like eye-catching content. And because they’re bombarded with an average of 122 emails per day (and that’s just work emails!), that monthly or bi-monthly e-newsletter probably won’t get noticed.
On the other hand, if you’re already sending a monthly printed newsletter via direct mail, rest assured that your client base will at least see and acknowledge your impressive efforts to reach out to them—even if they don’t have time to sit down and read through all of the interesting content you provide for them at that exact moment. Regardless of when they’re able to sit down and “interact” with you via your monthly newsletter, the rich content you send, written in a friendly, conversational tone, is ideal for maintaining and continuing to build relationships. It’s also a great method for converting prospects. Starting from your very first newsletter, your clients will begin to “bond” with you in a way that invites them to think continuously of you and your businesses—a business that not only treats them like gold when they’re doing business with you, but keeps them informed, entertained, and intrigued during the “in-between”.
When you engage with your clients and ask them questions, you’ll probably figure out rather quickly that they encounter problems from time to time that your business can help resolve. While you want to shy away from overtly creating a problem, the ongoing dialogue you strike with your clients should provide you the insight you need to diagnose any issues they’re having or come up with an easy, affordable, fast-acting, or definitive solution to a problem they’re knowingly experiencing and struggling with. Be careful to strike a balance between upselling them on new services and suggesting more simple, do-it-yourself solutions.
Too many businesses focus on incentives to entice new prospects, forgetting the ongoing courtship required to retain their existing clients. As a result, clients quickly feel abandoned, and quickly become more open to other offers that come their way—that is, if they don’t actively look for them! Remember that 5-10 figure that we mentioned earlier? It’s going to cost you a lot more to chase new clients than it will to continue to captivate your existing ones. In other words, continue to court your current clients. Your printed newsletters will naturally achieve a lot of this for you…but it never hurts to throw an event exclusive to current clients.
Gratitude is not a one-time expression. If you think about it, your loyal clients deserve much more thanks than your “newbies” because they’ve stuck with you—and in spite what probably amounts to immense persuasion from competition. Exclusive events are a great way to show your gratitude…but don’t forget to express it in other ways that don’t necessarily ask them to spend money. That’s why we’re a big fan of ongoing newsletters. They provide interesting and beneficial helpful content without being pushy or too obvious. You might also consider donating to client-favorite charities, sponsoring a beloved community event, sending holiday and birthday greetings, and even an occasional “thank you” shout-out on your social media and blog in video format.