Every business and organization has at least one incredible asset in common when it comes to promoting and marketing itself: current customers. The fact that it costs less to retain a current customer than it does to attract a new one, is well documented. See for yourself here and here, or even in this book. However, when building a marketing plan it’s easy to focus on growing your supporters, and end up losing sight of the role your current customers can play in accomplishing your marketing goals.
Valuable Marketing Data
As you may already realize, your current customers can provide a wealth of marketing data that can be used to help guide your future plans. Remember, these are people who discovered your product or service, and then decided to support your organization. Their path through the conversion process is a crucial key to your success, and there are a number of ways to tap into that insight.
- Conversations: Whenever possible, have a one-on-one conversation with your customers. How did they find out about you? How long have they been a customer? What can you do to improve? Even anecdotal evidence like this may uncover new ideas that can enhance your marketing efforts.
- Surveys: For a more scientific approach, develop an effective survey instrument to gather more detailed information from your customers. This can be done via a printed feedback card, or digitally through any number of channels. Regardless, the more customers you can have complete the survey, the more valuable your results will be. Consider offering a discount or reward to encourage participation
- Internal Data: You may also be able to review your own sales, membership or donor information to identify trends that can guide your future marketing. At a minimum you can use this information to determine approximately how much each customer is worth to your organization, and use this estimate to set your marketing budget.
Ideal Marketing Audience
In any type of marketing the goal is to reach a receptive audience. Well, your current customers will probably be the most receptive group you will find. And today, there are countless ways to reach them with your marketing message.f
Email and opt-in texting programs are among the most affordable. A comprehensive social media campaign can also be an excellent way to build an audience with your current customers, given the right demographics. A well-designed direct mail campaign, while higher cost, may also be a viable option.
Regardless of the method, targeting your current customers can also serve as way to test the effectiveness of a new tactic before scaling it up to a broader audience.
Vital Public Relations
The foundation of effective public relations is credibility. A recommendation or referral from a current customer has more credibility than most anything else. In my opinion, your customer service is the most important aspect of your public relations and marketing efforts.
Amazing customer service is going to keep your customers coming back. It will lead them to tell others about you. And it will become a critical part of your own story when you are trying to attract new customers.
In the end, it won’t matter how much spend, how creative you are, or how great your product is; if you don’t treat your customers well enough, they are not going to be customers for long.
If you’d like to discuss how to improve your organization's marketing, beginning with your current customers, start the conversation here.