Monday, March 15, 2010

Developing a New Kind of Customer Continuity

The face of the customer continuity game has changed. No longer do you need to be associated with large loyalty programs to get a great result, like a lift in sales or attract new customers. For most small business owners, they are operating on a tight budget, they are often the ones running the show, there's usually not a lot left at the end of the day to even think about the additional time and expense of a continuity program. The good news for these business owners is that there are now viable alternatives to create your own version of a customer continuity program, even on a tight budget.

Think of the millions, if not billions, that has gone into creating the loyalty programs we all belong to. What if I told you, that you can have this too, but at a fraction of the cost? Sound like a 'too good to be true' sales pitch? Don't get me wrong, there are costs involved, especially if you want to 'do it right', but these are minimal compared to the big bucks you could be spending.

When I worked for a retailer, one of our focuses, if not our main one, was to retain existing customers and increase their sales and visits. Time and again, studies prove that gaining a new customer, although can prove valuable in the long run, does not compare to what you can accomplish by increasing order sizes and frequency of your loyal customer base, creating the golden customer continuity. Loyal customers tend to be just that, loyal. They keep coming back. They keep buying your products. They keep telling their friends. They keep you in business.

Don't get me wrong, businesses can change, their customer base can change, but ultimately isn't it about increasing sales? And what better way to do that than to create a loyal community, offer that community value, and then keep them coming back. Social media makes this possible, and tools like Google, Facebook, and Ning make it easy (and affordable).

The power that now exists for marketers and business owners through social media avenues, like Twitter and Facebook is immense. Now, more than ever before little businesses have the same tools available that the big brands have. Yes, the big guys might be able to create their own fancy network, take Air MilesTM for example: http://community.airmiles.ca/en, but with powerful networks like Ning, or even utilizing features in Facebook, you can create a very similar community building experience, at a much lower price tag.

Keeping your customers coming back is key - loyalty programs aren't going to be a magic fix if your business has other issues, but if you're looking to build on your success, then consider adding an online community to the mix and see how fast your reputation spreads.

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So true, great piece.

March 17, 2010 at 11:27 AM  

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