Your Company Is In The Business Of Customer Development!
Intimate knowledge of your customers is very valuable because they
provide you with a profile of the type of customer you desire! Taken
one step further, spend time analyzing that 20% of your customer
base which provides your company with 80% of the business. This
expenditure of time can be the most productive time ever spent!
The first step to leveraging your customer base, for faster growth
and more profit requires that you (regardless of what you’re
selling) make a concerted effort to obtain the name, address, phone
number and likes of every customer. Armed with this information you
can develop the “best customer” profile and then move to a higher
You do so by spending your efforts acquiring new prospects who are
clones of your best customers — ones with the same profile as your
best 20% customers. Once you identify who they are, communicate with
them in the most productive ways that your company has developed.
If you haven’t been communicating, this will require a degree of
testing to see what works and what doesn’t. Ideally, you will appeal
to them with advertising that not only invites a response, bringing
them one step closer to the sale, but one that deepens your
relationship with them. This is usually accomplished by your
follow-up advertising and sales promotions.
After obtaining their name and address, add them to your customer
database. Then stay in touch with them through newsletters and other
forms of communications, so you will be able to develop a long-term
relationship. And for maximum success, you must continue an on-going
search for new clone prospects.
As your business becomes established this will be obtainable, more
and more, through referrals. The final step to keep in mind is that
these necessary steps must continually be repeated. Obviously, how
fast you build your customer base depends upon your resources as
well as your commitment. With effort, cash, and trade you can move
quickly to gain exposure and new prospects as a minimal cost.
Utilize Your Trade Exchange
With customer development a top priority, the person in charge of
this effort should certainly be aware of the trade exchange’s
services to stretch your company’s cash. This means being apprised
of the media available, as well as using the professional services
for designing ads, direct mail offers, etc.
The barter concept will continually surface in the acquisition of
more prospects. For example, in cooperative advertising
opportunities when working with local non-competitors (who have a
customer profile list similar to yours) where you exchange mailing
lists. You can also get together on a piggyback arrangement, where
you insert each other’s brochures with every order filled.
It can be used when you go one step further, by making a mailing
using an outside rented list and sharing the costs, such as
splitting the costs for postage, envelopes, lettership services, and
mailing lists. In such a co-op venture your company should volunteer
to handle all of the details, because it’ll then be easier to
convince the other party to cooperate.
By so doing, you “cash convert” your trade dollars when obtaining
some or all of the services and materials on trade. The other party
pays you for their share of the costs in cash. Many manufacturers
offer co-op advertising programs, too. It’s another way to “cash
convert” by securing local advertising with trade dollars, and then
collecting the cash reimbursement payments from the manufacturer.
In conclusion, it’s important to remember that we’re all in the
business of developing new customers. Once done, however, we
shouldn’t rest on our laurels. Rather, we should leverage our
customer base for faster growth and greater profits!