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11/24/2009

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 level.

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!



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