Retaining your existing customer base is a far better option than putting in the work to generate a new one.
Many regional companies allocate large sums of their budget towards advertising and marketing to lure in new customers but fail to spend much thought, time or funds on their current loyal customers. This creates the perfect environment for competitors to come into the market and take those customers.
The realities are that customer behaviours vary. Some will be loyal and true to your business for life, others are fly-by-niters and will visit only once or twice never to be seen or heard from again.
Let’s take a look at the life cycle of many regional customers:
1. Potential – They are a target customer and may be interested and/or willing to purchase from you
2. Prospect – You have done something that has created an interest in them for your business. They are not yet your customers, but they want to hear more from you.
3. Visitor – Your prospect has utilized your store or service in some way. Now your job is to convert them to a customer that continues to frequent your store or service.
4. Client– He has returned and re-purchased from you. He is now a client!
5. Member – They have re-purchased and you have requested their details and offered to join them up to some kind of membership or loyalty club. They now have a feeling of being ‘special’ or of gaining some kind of benefit for their loyalty. This is where the true loyalty starts and people will make all efforts to purchase from your store or service.
6. Supporter – This person is the holy grail of your business! A supporter continues with there own loyalty to your business, and lets other people know how good your business is. They will be providing you with referrals and continuing business with you.
The goal is for your potential customer to move through all the ranks and end up in the position of Supporter. At this point your regional business will be making a nice profit.
All these steps apply to all businesses, but with word of mouth being an even more vital method of retaining and maintaining business in regional areas, working this method will ensure your business stands out from the crowd.
Customer loyalty is not for sale. You need to earn loyalty by catering to your current customers and their needs. Ensure you create room in your current marketing budget for marketing to this vital cog in the chain of your business.
Want to learn more about successfully operating your regional business? Contact me or click on the events tab to find out about our next seminar in your area.