For every former client who returns for more work, entrepreneurs save the time and expense of searching for new clients.
If every client became a repeat customer, businesses likely would soon find they had no need to market their services until they were ready to grow.
Unfortunately, many professionals find that only some clients return and even then, requests from former clients are sporadic.
“Your existing clients are your business’s most valuable commodities,” says Robert May, attorney with The May Firm. “When you form a relationship with a new client, it can take months to build trust. With an existing client, you have a rhythm. You know how you work together. Anything your business can do to retain existing clients will pay off in multiple ways.”
If customer acquisition costs are too high in that they exceed the lifetime value of the customer, businesses will bite the dust. That is why customer acquisition cost has even been referred to as startup killer. Retention drives growth and specifically, lowers churn rates and recurring revenue raises the lifetime value of the customer. In this way, it balances out the customer acquisition cost.
If you wait for clients to contact you, however, you could find that you’re waiting a while. Former customers may fully intend to buy from you again, but as daily demands pull their attention away, they gradually forget.
Simply occasionally reaching out to everyone who has bought from you in the past can be a great way to keep your business fresh on customers’ minds. Here are a few ways your business can reach out to existing clients in 2016.
Most clients will see nothing salesy in simply checking in occasionally to see how the previous services you provided are working for them. This is especially true if you had special issues you worked out during the development phase of your project.
If they report that they’ve had additional issues, step in and resolve those issues quickly. This could uncover a great opportunity to suggest additional services and get even more business from them. At the very least, it will show that you stand behind your work long after the final payment has been made.
Make an Offer
If your first attempt at contact is simply to invite the customer to come back, you may be viewed as spammy. The customer will brand you as a nuisance and delete your message without responding. Instead, consider how you can make your client’s life easier.
Often this can be done through helping a business save money on something they will be buying anyway. Contact all of your former clients on a periodic basis with a limited-time offer good for returning customers only.
In some cases, the perfect opportunity to get in touch presents itself naturally. If you hear a previous client has won an award or reached a significant level of success, email to offer congratulations and mention that you’d be happy to help with any projects they have coming up.
If you’ve logged a client’s birthday or business founding anniversary in your CRM, use one of these dates to send a message. You could also email out of the blue when you find a link you believe is relevant to what they do. Sometimes even a simple message can prompt a conversation that leads to additional work.
Give Away Something for Free
Offer something valuable for free! Reaching out to the old clients saying that you have put together a bundle of case studies, best practices or training materials can be extremely effective in getting many of them back on board.
Think about your former and current clients’ struggles and offers something to solve that problem! These tips will help you make it more visual and entertaining.
Put Together a Proposal
One great thing you can do while you’re working with clients is build an online relationship where you can continue to follow them long after the project is complete. As you follow those clients, you can make notes about the work they’re doing and find opportunities to land new work with them.
Once you’ve identified an opportunity, put together a proposal and contact that client to let them know you have a great idea that will help them solve a very specific problem or increase sales.
Once a year, you have a valid reason to contact everyone you’ve worked with in the past. Invest in high-quality holiday cards and send them to all of your clients, past and present. Write a personalized message on each one and include your business card. The business card will likely end up on the recipient’s desk, with a small percentage of those recipients contacting you as a result.
With your former client base, you have a built-in market that has already shown an interest in your services. In the few seconds it takes to send a short message to each of them occasionally, you can potentially increase your monthly income without having to spend money on a marketing campaign.
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