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Encouraging Repeat Customers: Tips on Marketing Your Service-Based Business

August 5, 2013

80-20 principle I’m sure you’ve heard these two statements before: 1) It takes more time, effort, and money to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one. 2) Eighty percent of your business comes from twenty percent of your customers (the Pareto principle or 80–20 rule).

These are common principles to hear in business marketing. They suggest that if a marketer simply focuses on improving customer retention and loyalty, they can maintain revenue or even increase revenue over time. As Fred Reichheld states in his book, The Loyalty Effect, “a five percent improvement in customer retention rates will yield between a 25 to 100% increase in profits across a wide range of industries.” Keeping this in mind, why do many small businesses seem to ignore easy opportunities to ask for repeat business from existing customers?

I’m asking because just recently I realized that it had been over three years since my last eye exam, just under a year since my last hair cut, and a really long time since I had someone clean out my home’s air ducts. Receiving an email communication or direct mail postcard from my providers could not only act as a reminder for me to schedule an appointment but would also let me know that they’re thinking of me; that they want my repeat business.

As a consumer and fellow marketer, my advice is to maintain consistent, relevant communication with your existing customers. I guarantee that it will lead to repeat business as well as referrals. Think you don’t have time to run continuous customer retention marketing campaigns? Find an easy to use marketing solution that allows you to schedule monthly, quarterly, or yearly mailings in advance. QuantumDigital’s Scheduled Mail and AutoMail services are examples of tools that make it easy for businesses to stay in touch with customers.

Here are some industries/scenarios where pre–scheduled marketing communications can encourage repeat business:

haircareStylist/Hair Care: Each evening or at the end of each week, reserve some time to set up direct mail postcard reminders for your clients. Schedule out a mail touch to remind them four weeks after their last cut/service date that they should call to set up an appointment. People are busy; they forget. A mailed reminder won’t get caught in a spam email folder. An investment in a 99–cents–or–less postcard could turn into a $60 hair cut, $80 dye job, or other revenue–generating service.

Real Estate Agent: Just listed/sold campaigns* are great for capturing attention and seeking out more listing opportunities. Considering today’s unsteady housing market, however, new listings or sales may not come as often as one would like. To forge memory of your name/brand, set up monthly or quarterly postcard mailings to key neighborhoods where you do business. Use a monthly eNewsletter to stay connected with past customers and your sphere of influence. Doing this will keep you top of mind with consumers when the time comes to make a real estate transaction.

*Interested in an automated program that instantly prepares just listed/sold campaigns for you and delivers warm, local leads right to your inbox? Learn about TriggerMarketing® for real estate.

home repairHome Maintenance: Many homeowners don’t realize all the things they need to do in order to effectively maintain the integrity of their property.  Set up quarterly or yearly postcard reminders to ensure homeowners are current on necessary maintanence and repairs (keeping air ducts and lint traps clean, pest control/inspections, furnace and air conditioning tune ups, etc). Reminding homeowners of these and other seasonal activities is a great way to keep lines of communication open and encourage repeat business.

These are just a few examples of missed marketing opportunities that I’ve seen lately. What do you do to ensure you keep customers coming back?