The Untapped Goldmine of Repeat Business

Most businesspeople don’t work their past customers at all. And those who do work their past customers produce only a fraction of the potential they’re capable of. Satisfied customers like to be, want to be, and are already favorably predisposed toward working with you or doing business with you. They are silently begging to be led.

By that, I mean they want to repurchase – they honestly do. But it’s up to you to expend the effort and make the necessary overture to lead the customer back. There are an infinite number of ways this can be accomplished. Just one example: Offer your customers one-time, preferential pricing to induce them to do business with you again.

Affinity is the goal. Look at every customer, including prospects, as if it is only a matter of time before you have a relationship in which your focus is to serve, benefit, enhance, and create value for that person for life. The more communication you have with your customers, the more trust is established. They will consider you to be a friend who cares.

If you analyze the readers of weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, quarterly, semiannual, and annual newsletters, you’ll find that the subscribers to the weeklies read their newsletters much more thoroughly and are much more closely bonded to them than the subscribers to the less-frequent publications. Do you think you don’t have anything to say to your customers?

Remember that you’re dealing with people. They are human beings with hopes, fears, problems, and stress. Can you care about them? Share ideas? You can talk about their families. Let them know about what is new in the marketplace. Give them a chance to try things on a trial or modified test basis.

Alert them to what is coming from the new markets and give them a chance to pre-order. Doing things like this produces a lot more sales. I had one client who was fascinatingly opinionated. He had views – great views – on topics from politics to farms to morality. He was so fascinating that I called him every month, talked to him about anything, recorded what he said, and had it transcribed and turned into a letter to my customers – which was PS’ed with an offer. People loved him. And this turned into a profit center.

When was the last time you communicated personally with your customers – made them feel that you care more about them than their checkbooks? If you don’t have time to do it yourself, you can have an articulate, highly professional assistant contact them on your behalf … just to say how much you appreciate them, and to share an idea you thought they might find valuable. The more frequently you communicate from the heart about your customers’ interests – not yours – the greater the connection.

Here are a dozen techniques for following up with customers that will make them feel that you’re a trusted friend. These techniques quickly build customer loyalty and keep them coming back, year after year:

1. Remember that most sales are made after several calls rather than on the first one. So follow up on inquiries and leads numerous times before abandoning them.

2. Use a simulated “carbon copy” of your original sales letter for a follow-up mailing.

3. Use telephone follow-ups to supplement your direct-mail campaign.

4. Send a special “thank you” letter to new customers as soon as you receive their first order. Thank your customers for every additional order.

5. Send a letter every now and then – when no immediate purchase is involved – to thank customers for previous purchases. Invite them to order again soon and enclose some promotional material to supplement the invitation.

6. Cultivate customers with regular mailings saying ”thanks” for their previous business and containing special offers “for customers only.”

7. To offset possible ”buyer’s remorse,” send purchasers of big-ticket items a follow-up letter reassuring them that they made a good buy.

8. Keep your customer sold on your product after he buys. Send him follow-up mailings to ask how he likes the product … if he would like any further information about it … and (if appropriate) to suggest ways to use it that he may not have thought about or may have forgotten.

9. Increase your customers’ goodwill and purchases by sending them advance notices of sales or other special events.

10. The New Year’s season – or any major holiday – is an especially good time to invite former customers to become active again.

11. If you make a mistake in your written material, follow up promptly with a letter of correction that also does some additional selling.

12. If special circumstances delay or threaten to delay mail delivery, use an insert postscript, simulated rubber stamp imprint, or follow-up mailing to notify the recipient that the cutoff date specified in the original mailing has been extended to a specific date or for a specified number of days.

Bottom line; Communicate frequently with your customers by calling, writing, e-mailing, sending gifts such as booklets, reports, tapes – ¬even little notes and newspaper articles about all kinds of issues you know to be important for both their business and human sides.