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How to keep customers loyal

by Pete Mosley

Published: November 2017

Explore the idea of customer loyalty

Pete Mosley, Business Editor of craft&design

How to keep customers loyal

I want to explore the idea of customer loyalty. It’s an important subject, because it is the key to building a sustainable business. And yet lots of businesses put lots more effort into finding new customers than they do into keeping hold of the ones they have got. Continually chasing one-off sales is not going to keep you going in the long term.

Over the lifetime of your creative business a huge part of your turnover – around 80%, will come from repeat custom. And the truth of the matter is that it is much cheaper to keep a customer than it is to win a new one.

In marketing terms, we are talking about the customer journey. Where does it start, who does it involve, and what are the points at which you make contact with them along the way?

Your customer’s heads are swimming in information. We are all overloaded, stressed and busy. So how do you make your mark – and continue to be noticed?

Customers buy the work not just to enjoy but also as a talking point around which they can display their own knowledge and appreciation of the finer things in life.

What can you give to your customers that will encourage them to talk about and recommend your work to others? To continue the storytelling on your behalf, if you like?

Give them things to share and pass on.

Don't just give them one leaflet, flyer or business card in your packaging, give them several. That way, they will enthusiastically pass your marketing material on to friends, family and colleagues.

Provide great product information.

Make sure they get an A4 or A5 sheet that tells them something meaningful about you and your work and how it was made. That will help them feel confident enough to talk about you and your work whenever anyone comments or asks questions.

Give them a keepsake.

Help them remember you. I normally file business cards away, but I have had one on my desk for a few weeks now. It’s a very thick, letterpress printed, heavily embossed card. I really like the feel and weight of it in my hand. What small thing could you give your customers that they would keep close by in a similar way?

Turn your social media posts into shareable assets.

Some of the most potent Twitter and Facebook posts I have seen this year have been short videos. None of them more than a couple of minutes long. The best ones have been so well made that they have gone viral been shared thousands of times. Why? The storytelling is so powerful that you can't help but want to pass it on.

Drop pebbles in the pond

Stay in touch with your customers – by email – on a regular (but not too regular basis). These emails ensure that you never drop out of someone’s consciousness completely. It’s not unusual to get someone re-contacting you after a period of years, simply because your email prompted them to get back in touch once they had good reason to. They may well have not opened one of your emails for ages, but people have a habit of reappearing just wen you least expect it!

Encourage email sharing.

Make sure you encourage people to forward your emails to others who may be interested. This is even easier now as Mailchimp and other email platforms provide a short web address for your email that you can tweet or otherwise share on social media.

Be a bit old fashioned

What would you do if the Internet ceased to exist? How would you let people know about what you do? When, for instance, did you last get a really interesting letter in the post? Something personal. Hand made or hand written? When, if ever, have you talked to a group like the W.I. – who are renowned for their networking and information sharing skills?

Make your customers feel good.

People may forget what you said to them but they will remember how you made them feel. People recommend sellers who have made them feel good and provided great service. Outstanding customer service drives referrals.

Be quietly persistent

If you have sent samples to someone and you feel like you’ve been kept waiting too long, or you feel they’ve forgotten you, remember how busy people are these days. Send a short, simple and  - above all - friendly reminder. Did the sample arrive, do you need more information, what is your timescale for making decisions – but don’t ask loads of questions all at once- plan a sequence of polite follow up emails and keep at it until you get an answer.

Finally - how do you follow up on sales?

Following up on a sale is a great way to build loyalty. This could be anything from a simple thank you message to a short customer satisfaction survey with a discount code for those who fill it in. Use the follow up as a way of saying you appreciate them and value their custom.

If your customer connects with your feel-good values, you build empathy. From empathy, trust develops and you have chance to build a relationship with them. With the relationship comes loyalty to you and your brand. Loyal customers make for a sustainable business.

 
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