pbSmart™ for Small Business

How to Mine Your Current Customer (Profit) Gold



Fact: The cost to find and win a new client is vastly higher than the cost to retain a current client.

Don’t believe me?

Consider your expense and resource commitments to find and win new business.  How long does it take you to simply identify a warm lead?  Remember your time is a precious non-renewable asset, so you should spend it at least as carefully as the money in your business bank account.  Two hours of your time could easily be worth hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.

Perhaps you use website content and social media to draw in new clients.  That takes time and money to build as well.  But a current customer?  That information is available right now at no cost.

Unfortunately all leads, no matter how enthusiastic, do not convert.  And to go from a lead to a paying customer takes an additional investment.  You need to overcome two barriers; convince them they truly need what you’re selling, and that you are the best person from whom to buy it.

With current customers, those who you’ve treated well and delivered a quality product or service, those barriers are almost non-existent.  Their objections are easy to overcome because you’ve established a track record.

Bottom line, your current and past customers are a treasure trove of profits sitting right under your nose.

How to Profit from Your Current Customers – Staying Relevant

The bad news – people have short memories.

No matter how great your service, how innovative your name or how tantalizing your jingle, people will forget it over time.  Especially if it’s the type of service you only need once a year (such as tax preparation), or once every 10 years (a reliable roofer).

The good news – it’s easy to stay relevant without becoming a pest.

Even more good news – it’s cost effective too!

1.     Start an email newsletter

Whether you sell organic hair care products or offer custom group travel arrangements, there is news relevant to your business.  Organic hair coloring on the rise? Share tips on what works and what doesn’t.  Combination business workshop / leisure cruises making a comeback?  Share tips and tricks on how businesses can cash in.  80% of the material should be useful or informative, no more than 20% should be pitching.  This ratio is important to avoid being labeled a pest, or worse, SPAM.


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2.     Share your content on Social Media

Social media isn’t just for kids and college students anymore.  Even grandparents have joined Facebook in droves to get the latest on the grandkids.  Encourage your customers to follow you on Twitter and like your Facebook Page.  It’s another cheap, easy way to stay top of mind without getting underfoot.  Bonus: Social Media makes it easy for your raving fans to share with potential new customers.

 3.     Snail mail isn’t dead

That’s right, direct physical mail is making a strong comeback.  Why?  Because the unwanted junk mail that used to fill your physical mailbox is now being stuffed into virtual mailboxes.  (That’s why it’s important to use a reputable company for idea #1)  Color postcards, brochures and lumpy mail all capture the recipient’s attention.  Use this option selectively to promote special events or share a special, limited time offer.  

How to Profit from Your Past Customers – Celebrate Success

Everyone likes to win, and entrepreneurs are more competitive than the average bear.  Tap into your customers’ desire to be on the winning team.

1.       Celebrate your company’s awards

I’d love to be able to say I use the services of a company that’s received an Oscar, been on Oprah, broken a world record or some other notable accomplishment.  Who wouldn’t?  It makes you part of the winning team.  Even local awards have huge benefits.  Can you say you were named the “top ____________ “ in your town last year?

Celebrate your high profile clients

Why do you think celebrity spokesmen/women continue to be used?  There’s the cool factor, the credibility factor, and yes the winning team factor. Warning: be sure you have your client’s permission before any announcements are made.

Remind customers of their specific benefits

You’ve delivered a stellar product or service to your customer, don’t let them forget it!  Did you save your client 20% this year on their administrative overhead?  Did your new software enable your customers to increase their sales by 15%?  Everyone loves to save money and everyone loves to make more money.  Remind your clients how you’ve helped them.  Depending on your business these reminders can be sent quarterly, semi-annually or annually.

Whether you’re looking to retain an existing client, or create a repeat / cross-sell with a past client, remind them that you’re the winning team.

Final Thoughts

It’s easy to be seduced by the idea of winning new clients – the challenge, the conquest, the thrill of the hunt.  Unfortunately that means past and present clients are often overlooked or ignored. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by.  Get started now mining your customer profit gold.

  • http://www.IAmNickArmstrong.com/ Nick Armstrong


    Creating as many points of useful, well-timed contact as possible can boost any business’s retention numbers.

    The biggest mistake I see businesses at every level making over and over again is rewarding the shiny, new customers – and not the ones that have given them the most success over the long-haul. It’s kinda pathetic. How many new customers will there ever be?

    Snail mail isn’t quite dead, but the better use of “old-school” interaction could even be introducing your front-line team to your customers. Hold an event, let your best customers behind the scenes as much as possible, introduce them to new angles and products and services before you release them to the general public.

    Great article, Nicole!

    • http://www.thenumberswhisperer.com/ Nicole Fende

      Nick I love the idea of introducing front-line team to customers. Reminds me of a family run custom jewelry store (they made everything in house) who actually had a big picnic for all employees and past clients every year.

  • http://pajamaproductivity.com Annie Sisk

    Nick’s so spot-on, as are you, Nicole – especially in the communications/entertainment and other subscription model businesses, such as cable, cell phone, and insurance providers, the new folks are treated like gold and the loyalty demonstrated by long-time customers gets trampled on. Small biz owners have the freedom to be more adaptable and responsive – I love to see them take advantage of that and think way outside the box to engage those brand loyalists.

    • http://www.thenumberswhisperer.com/ Nicole Fende

      Annie – yes many of the big biz subscription models you mentioned don’t recognize or reward long term customers. Except (maybe) when they leave. It’s a little late then.

  • http://www.thewordchef.com/ Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef

    This is a topic that’s not discussed often enough — especially in the online world where we’re all about generating traffic and leads. C’mon! Start with the folks you already know and treat them like the gold they are. THAT’s authentic marketing!

  • http://getpaidtowriteonline.com/ Sharon Hurley Hall

    Love these practical tips, Nicole. It’s so much easier to start with the people you already know, isn’t it?

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