Which is more important, building new business or keeping the business you have?
Which is more efficient? More cost effective?
If the answer isn’t obvious, it’s because you, like me, work in marketing and have worked in marketing for probably too long. The allure of inbound marketing is compelling, the allure of winning new business and being a hero to your company’s sales and marketing teams is heady.
When you dig in past new website visitors, new goal conversions in Google Analytics, new opportunities in your sales pipeline, when you go past the surface details that keep us as marketers occupied and happy, the stark truth is that not much of it matters. Not much of it moves the needle in comparison to the greatest and most powerful marketing weapon you should have at your disposal:
Existing customers who are so deliriously happy with you that they are evangelizing on your behalf harder than any Sunday morning preacher.
Think about all the truths we give lip service to, especially in social media: it’s all about being human. It’s all about relationships. It’s all about being there before the sale. Then think about how much of your time, energy, and budget you expend as a marketer or a CEO on anything but strengthening the relationships you’ve already got.
You want an easy social media strategy that requires little investment, little research, and very little cleverness or technical skill to execute? Set up relationships, friendships, and/or followerships with every one of your customers who is willing to do so and then spend your time listening to them. Every time a customer tweets or posts to their wall about something that’s having a serious impact on them, personally or professionally, touch base, even if it’s just in sympathy. Every time a customer has a problem with your product or service, be there before anyone else can get a chance to respond and ask sincerely how you can help, then fix their problem.
In relatively short order, as long as you’re sincere and dedicated in your efforts to help strengthen the relationships you’ve already got, new business will start to increase. Word of mouth will make your sales cycle shorten dramatically because your existing customers will do all the browbeating for you. Profits will go up from happy customers ready to spend their money on whatever you’ve got next, to the point where they’ll nag you for more things they can buy. Ask any successful musician about how loud that can get from rabid fans for the next album, the next single, the next t-shirt, anything.
This is one of the few times where there’s no catch, where you truly can have massive leverage with relatively few resources, where you can move the needle dramatically and quickly with just hard work and no bag of tricks or arcane technologies. Put your heart and soul into loving the customers you’ve already got, and watch how they’ll open doors for you to customers you’d never reach otherwise. Show honest gratitude to them for their support and work your ass off to keep earning it, day after day.
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This is so true. It’s the strategy that kept my company alive for two years when there was no new business to be had. We learned so much during that time. From my perspective this is one of your best posts ever and you write some darn good stuff my friend 🙂
Your best salesperson is a satisfied customer. Provide top notch customer service, keep them happy, and they will return the favor by extolling the virtues of your product to everyone they meet.
I think you are touching on something called Trustability, which I heard explained in a talk by Don Peppers last week at the Mega Event in Montreal.
The economics of loyalty are preferable to always searching for new and untested customers. Building trust in the ways you outline in your post are a path to successfully execute the strategy.
You sum up the paradigm shift needed in marketing, PR, sales, etc, which sadly too many businesses don’t get from their Social Media professionals. Loyal customers have for years questioned the overwhelming attention and money spent luring new customers, which felt like punishment for getting there first. The game has changed.
Its an old business rule.. it is significantly more expensive to get new business than keep a current client happy! SM doesn’t change this… The conversion rate from getting the top 5% of your customers to an extremely satisfied customer can increase profit by 95%!!!
As a brand Im going after that top 5%… oh and people that hate your brand are the best candidates to become new members of that club, so I’d go after them too!