Attracting and Keeping Customers Requires Repetitive Contacts

When a farmer grows crops, much time and care are required to ensure a successful harvest.

When you meet with potential customers whose needs aren't being met by a company are low hanging fruit — they are ripe for picking with little effort.

But what about the other prospects that decided not to buy from your firm but are still potential customers? They may not be ready to leave one of your competitors yet, but at a later date they may be willing to switch to another business.

And how about existing customers? Are they ripe for picking by a competitor? Most companies find time to stay close to their top customers, but it's more difficult to devote extensive time to smaller customers that you definitely want to keep.

Trickle Marketing

Both need nurturing. A solution to these dilemmas is to establish a "trickle marketing" campaign for current and potential customers.

This involves sending material regularly to both to maintain a presence. In some cases, this material doesn't have to be overtly promotional — it can merely educate customers with useful information and demonstrate your professional competence. This keeps your company in the minds of prospects and customers. You are nurturing the relationship the way the farmer cultivates fruit.

Many businesses send newsletters, tips, article reprints, news releases or brochures to their targeted audience. These devices are all useful. The problem is that many companies don't send this material out often enough.

Think of your personal response to direct mail. In many cases you pitch it in the trash without opening it, especially if you are busy. The pieces you open and notice are probably the ones that were sent multiple times and gained recognition.

For the typical company this poses a dilemma. The high cost of printing and mailing can make repetitive contacts too costly. As a result, your customers and prospects aren't getting enough attention throughout the year.

Solution: Augment your mailings with an e-mail marketing campaign. The costs of constant contact become significantly lower this way.

The key to staying in front of customers and developing prospects is frequency and value. Instituting a trickle marketing campaign for your company can help achieve these goals.

3 E-Mail Tips

1. Personalize. Use the recipient's name in the subject line. For example, "John, take advantage of this discount."

2. Vary the day received. Most e-mails now arrive on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays. Try sending on other days to see if the response rate improves.

3. Add an element of urgency, by putting an end date or deadline on your offer. But make it real. You've probably seen online ads that say, "offer ends today, August 1." Then when you check again the next day, it says, "offer ends today, August 2." and so on. That kind of fake deadline is easily to spot and looks cheesy and deceptive. The last thing you want to do is give readers the impression that you underestimate their intelligence.

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