Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Customer & Prospect Database

Gathering a database of customers and prospects is one of the most important things that you can do for your business health. If a customer buys anything from you regardless of how small, they are worth following up. A prospect who took a look at your store or services but didn't buy today is worth following up. People like to feel important and for you to follow up with people demonstrates that you care. Of course, we need to be reasonable about the number of contacts in a certain period so that we don't turn our customers and prospects off.

If you have services or products that are purchased several times a year, all the more reason to have a great follow up system in place. The more often someone needs an item or service, the better the communication will be for them. For example, let's say you sell ink cartridges. You would be good to find out how often your customer needs their cartridges replaced on average. Might it be every month, every three months, six months? Whatever it is, the time for you to send an email reminder to them, maybe with a discount coupon, would be a little before the need.

Perhaps you sell clothing. You would be good to send sale emails, or new product arrival emails and such. You could send a thank you for being our customer email with a $10 off your next purchase or something like that. Be creative. There is much you can do.

Many companies are totally focused on marketing to new customers that they want to come in. They do yellow pages advertising, signs, marketing materials, banners, newspaper advertising, radio or TV advertising, etc. They are looking for new customers. Great. That is just one focus of marketing though. Include marketing to your own customers as a high priority, and also market to those who did not buy that you took the time to gather information from. Never forget that even though someone has not purchased from you, that does not stop them from sending friends or associates your way. You might even find after a period of time, that your customer base and prospect base marketing will be the most productive of all.

We encourage businesses to develop their customer database and to begin sending a monthly newsletter at minimum. Sending something every two weeks might be more productive. Use this to announce events, announce sales, announce changes, give valuable information and to thank them again for their business. This is a powerful tool when used consistently. Plan out an approach and sketch out the kinds of announcements and information you might send. Once you finalize the approach, you can begin the process of sending them.

More on the database tomorrow.

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