Eight tips to generate more repeat customers

Repeat customer sales are the cheapest and easiest business you will ever generate, so it makes sense that more of your time should be spent nurturing and leveraging your existing customer relationships than bringing in new business.

But how do you keep customers coming back and buying again and again? Here are eight tips to help you turn those once off buyers into loyal, profitable, repeat customers.

1. Develop products or services that have a repeat buy

One of the most important factors in getting repeat business is to have products and services that can be bought repeatedly or added onto. Being able to upsell, upgrade, add on or repeatedly sell products or services to your current customers will help you develop a constant stream of income without a large marketing outlay.

2. Get your customers details

It sounds obvious doesn’t it, though you’d be surprised at how many businesses don’t capture the contact details of the customers that buy from them. But the trouble is if you don’t who your customers are how can you market to them and stay in touch?

If you’re wondering how to capture their details, offer an opt-in registration for a free report/checklist/cheat sheet or newsletter on your website, give them free gift or gift certificate for filling in a contact form, include contact details on feedback forms and surveys and/or hold a competition.

3. Send “you’re due” reminders

Keep track of when customers are due for your product or services whether it is a refill, check-up, follow up or replacement.

Think of dentists and chiropractors who let you know when you are due for an appointment, or mechanics and pest specialists who put stickers on your car or cupboards with when you are due for your next service or pest check-up. Think about how you could implement reminders to help prompt your customers to buy again.

4. Create a customer loyalty reward program

Reward your loyal customers with a bonus or free product or service once they have bought a certain number of products or services from you or spent a certain amount of money (think “buy 10 and get the 11th free, a VIP discount or a gift certificate after a spend of [x] amount).

Whatever you choose, just make sure the incentive is high enough so they will want to keep coming back.

5. Send out a “thank you for buying” offer

Once your customer has bought your product or service send out a special offer or gift voucher (valid for a limited time) to use with their next purchase as a thank you. This can be quite effective in encouraging your customers to buy again soon after their last purchase.

6. Stay in contact

Staying in touch with your customers, seeing how they are going, telling them about new products and services and informing them about specials and promotions can help you keep your business in the forefront of their minds and give them the prompt they need to buy again.

7. After sales follow up

Never underestimate the power in following up after a sale. A simple call to see how your customer has found your product or service can be a great way to get valuable feedback, testimonials and have the opportunity to upsell with different products and services.

8.  Go the extra mile

If you really want to have repeat customers, go beyond their expectations and give them what they can’t get anywhere else. It could be as simple as taking the time to answer all of their questions to creating a wow customer service experience, anything to make an impact and keep them coming back.

How do you keep your customers coming back?

Amanda


Five ways to stay in touch with your customers – and have them look forward to it

When it comes to increasing your sales and overall profitability, one of the best places to start is to increase your level of customer interaction. The more contact you have with your customers, the more likely it is that they will buy from you and refer you to others who need your products or services.

It shouldn’t be just any old customer interaction though. You need to be strategic, targeted, value-driven and compelling – without appearing to be desperate, spamming or annoying.

Not always the easiest feat, but to help you here are five proven ways to maintain regular customer contact and how to use them more effectively so your customers look forward to hearing from you.

1. Newsletters

While some will argue the trusty newsletter has had its day, I tend to disagree. If you are going to make it work in this day and age of endless emails though, you’re going to have to shake things up a bit.

When producing your newsletter, e-zine or e-news always come at it from the perspective “What’s in it for my customer? What information, tips and offers can I include that will make my customer want to give up 5, 10 or 15 minutes of their life to read this every month?”

Think industry insights or a market update, some key tips that could be helpful and implemented the day they receive your newsletter, a relevant article and a call to action by way of a special offer.

You want to keep it short and succinct, and where possible in the reading pane of their email. If you do have any long articles or pieces of information you want to include, publish them as a blog post on your website so you can provide a short sentence or two with a link to “read more” in your newsletter to save space and increase your website traffic.

2. Special offers and competitions

A special offer for the month can be a great way to stay in touch with you customers and get them buying from you. Competitions also have the benefit of getting customers to engage with you by sharing your brand both online and offline.

To hold your customers’ interests and ensure the best results, make sure your special offers are different each time and your competition prizes are desired items that are relevant to your business.

3. Emails using auto-responders

Not only are auto-responders an effective way of interacting with your customers, they can also save you a lot of time in the process.

You could have a set email sequence start from when a customer or potential customer first enquires, becomes a customer, signs up to your mailing list or downloads a resource from your website so there is a clear process leading them to a sale or repeat sale.

Or you could use it to give a quick weekly tip, update, thought, special offer, or all of the above to add more value to them.

For optimum impact, make it concise, poignant, relevant and educational. Also use a value-driven or fear-based headline in order to stand out in an overcrowded email inbox.

4.  Social Media

Social media is perhaps one of the best ways to stay in touch with your customers as it’s the most accepted regular form of contact, and a more “social” form of contact, making rapport building quicker and easier when done right.

On social media, most people are anticipating regular updates from you – normally daily updates and possibly even multiple daily updates depending on your business. No other communication method has as much expected or allowed regular communication with a customer, making it an extremely valuable tool.

To use it effectively and maintain your customer’s interest, you need to do more than post special offers and sales pitches. Look to inform, entertain and add value to your customers first, and then add some business promotion in.

5. Blogging

While it is a slightly more passive way of communicating with customers as they are coming to you, when you post relevant, interesting and educational content regularly, you can build a loyal readership that will keep coming back for more.

To make it a little less passive, give readers the opportunity to subscribe to your blog by email or RSS feed. This way they can have updates sent to them immediately instead of potentially missing something when they are left to come back on their own.

To monetize your blog and covert your readers to customers, add a call to action or special offer that relates to what you wrote about in the post as a P.S. at the end of your blog post.

How do you stay in regular contact with your customers? What works best for you?

Amanda


‘Tis the season to be busy – four tips to boost downtime profits

For some business owners the Christmas and New Year period is one of their busiest times, but for others it can be nervously slow.  So how do you ensure you generate as much income as possible through the holiday season? Here are four tried and tested tips to help you boost your downtime profits.

1. Have a special

Specials can be a great way to generate business though you do need to do it wisely. Not just to make sure you preserve as much of your profit margin as possible, but because discounting too much or having specials too regularly can make you seem desperate, and it can also make customers question your pricing and the value of your products and services.

So how do you not sound desperate? It’s all in the way you market your sale. Your sale should be seen to be of a bigger benefit to your customers than to you. For example saying “Giving you/your business a Merry little Christmas with our …% off sale” is far better than hinting or saying directly that business is slow or we need to move stock.   

2. Develop limited edition or “limited time only” products, services and packages

Never underestimate the power of limited edition or “limited time only” products, services and packages. Scarcity and competition can be great selling motivators. Build desire by making your limited products, services and packages attractive, full of value and of course, strictly limited.

3. Value add

Value adding can be a great way to increase sales and a good alternative to discounting, provided add-ons are valuable and relevant to your audience. Think about what bonuses you could add in to make your product or service a “must-have” in the eyes of your customers, and get them buying now and not later.

4. Do a little PR

While some of the more major publications have published their Christmas editions, there are still a number of opportunities around for some Christmas themed PR, particularly in publications that are local or published more frequently. Don’t neglect blogs and large websites either as many of them will also do Christmas gift guides and features.

If you have a product or service that would make a good Christmas gift or you could do up some suggested gift ideas using a number of your products and services (like “Ten gifts your [mum/dad/partner/kids/pet] will love this Christmas”) it’s worth doing up a media release or quick editorial and sending it out. Also keep an eye on SourceBottle to monitor requests and opportunities.

If you don’t have a product or service that would be considered a Christmas gift look at other different Christmas and New Year angles you could use. For example, a Financial Planner could share “[x] tips for spending within your means this Christmas” or an accountant could share “[x] tips to get your business fit for the New Year”. Have a bit of fun and get a little creative in order to find ways you can piggyback of the holiday season.

What are you doing to boost your business through the downtime?

Amanda


Four ways to enhance your customer experiences and improve profits

I’m guest posting over at Flying Solo on ways to enhance your customer experience and boost your profitability. You can read the full article here, though here is a sneak peek…

Of the many ways to increase profitability in your business, giving your customers an experience they’ll never forget is a highly effective one.

No one sells your business like a happy customer. When your customers sing your praises and prove your value and claims through their own experiences, a whole new level of trust and credibility is awarded to you and your business.

With repeat customer sales and referrals also being the cheapest and easiest business you will ever generate, it‘s smart to spend more time nurturing and leveraging your existing customer relationships to create even more happy customers.

With this in mind, here are four tips to help you enhance your customer experience and increase profitability in the process.

1. Stop selling and start serving

Instead of focusing on generating sales, focus on your potential customer’s needs, wants, goals, challenges and how you can help them.

You will find that when you stop selling and start serving, your customer’s guard comes down. Not only will they be more receptive to what you are saying, they will open up to you, rewarding you with more information that will help you make the sale and turn them into a satisfied customer.

2. Ask questions and listen to the answers

Questions are incredibly powerful. You can qualify a potential customer, establish rapport, identify needs, build relationships, increase credibility and close a sale simply by asking the right questions and listening closely to the answers.

The more targeted your questions, the easier it is to give your customers exactly what they need, reward and “wow” them in ways they would personally appreciate, and find even more ways to help to them.

3. Stay in contact regularly

To build a relationship with your customers you need to stay in regular contact with them, but not just with newsletters and email marketing. Instead, make genuine, personal contact. Talk to them to see how they are going. Keep in touch in a way that makes them say “wow”

For example, once your customer has bought your product or service you could send out a small gift voucher they can use for their next purchase as a thank you for doing business with you. A week after they have used your product or service you could call them to see how they are going, if they have any questions and if you can help them with anything further. This can be a great way to show you care, create opportunities to up-sell or cross-sell and get feedback, which can generate testimonials or help you address any concerns.

Also keep track of when customers are due for your product or service, whether it is a refill, check-up, follow-up or replacement, and send them a reminder with a special offer or bonus. By being proactive, your customers will feel more special and your thoughtfulness will be rewarded with loyalty, repeat sales and referrals.

Read more…

Amanda


Four questions that will transform your business

As the end of year approaches quickly, it’s quite natural as business owners to start thinking about the year ahead. What plans we’ll make, the new goals and targets we’ll set and of course how we can make our businesses even better and more profitable in the coming year.

To help you with this process and get you thinking more strategically about your plans, here are four questions to ask yourself that will help you transform your business.

“What are my customers and potential customers’ greatest challenges and what is it costing them?”

Identifying your customers and potential customers’ greatest challenges will help you develop more relevant products and services, identify ways to upsell, cross sell or resell your customers and of course make it easier to position your products or services as a necessity your customers “must” buy.

Beyond that, it will also help you form more profitable alliances and referral partnerships with other businesses your customers may need before or after you, opening up more opportunities and income sources.

By answering the second part of the question, “what is it costing them?” you’ll be able to identify your customers pain points which will make your marketing messages more targeted, strategic, personalised and as a result more effective.

“What are my customers telling me verbally and non-verbally?”

Your customers are always your greatest source of learning so listen closely to what they are saying and also look at what they aren’t saying.

Are some products and services selling more than others? Do they praise you for a particular area consistently? Do they complain about a certain area consistently? Are they coming back and buying regularly? Are they referring others?

When you take the time to listen to what your customers are telling you you’ll start to identify areas you can improve, work out your most profitable products and services and find out ways to make your customers happier, more loyal and as a result more inclined to buy again and refer.

“How can I move away from exchanging time for money?”

This question addresses one of the biggest challenges we can face as business owners, particularly those of us who provide services. With time being our most limited resource, the last thing we want is our income being capped by how much time we can devote to our work.

By starting to think about what else you can do other than just charge for your time you’ll start to develop different products and identify other sources of income, particularly passive income.

“How can I leverage my time, knowledge, money, resources, contacts and efforts to further my business?”

This would have to be one of the most powerful questions you could ask yourself. Leverage will help you to grow your business quicker with less time, money and effort spent.

True entrepreneurs spend most of their time answering this question with one addition – how can I leverage other people’s time, knowledge, money, resources, contacts and efforts too?

If you start asking these questions as you do your business planning for the year ahead, you’ll be sure to make it your best year yet. What questions would you add?

Amanda


Four tips to be more authentic in business

In a growing digital world that is becoming more and more disconnected, customers are looking for more. They don’t just want to purchase a product or service – they want an experience.

But not just any experience. A genuine, transparent, honest experience from a business that knows who they are and stays true to what they stand for. A business that is authentic.

While “authenticity” seems like the latest business buzzword, businesses who are taking it on board and creating an authentic approach are cashing in. So to ensure you’re one of these businesses, here are four tips to help you become more authentic in business.

1. Be real

Know who you are, what you do and who you’re targeting. Work out what you’re passionate about, what you stand for and what the purpose of your business is – beyond making profit, and share it with the world. Be real, be honest, stay true to what you stand for and believe in. The best way to be seen as being authentic is to actually be authentic.

2. Be consistent

We often here this in reference to the look of our brand, but it’s more than that. Be consistent with the messages you create, the tone of voice you use, the quality of your products and services, your work ethic and professionalism and in all other areas of business. Not only will it help your business stay on-brand, it will resonate in the minds of your customers and you will be trusted for your reliability.

3. Back up your claims

If you make a claim, prove it. Show testimonials, reviews or case studies, display your portfolio or give a product demonstration, do whatever you need to do to prove your claims, establish your expertise and show how you can help. This will build your credibility, show you are who you say you are and that you are a trustworthy professional.

4. Be accountable

Take responsibility for your actions and be accountable. If you make a mistake own it, if you have an unhappy client address it and if you’ve made a wrong decision correct it. Be humble, be professional, stay within the lines and apologise for any wrong doing. Protect your reputation. By doing this and being open, honest and accountable for your mistakes you will often turn a negative situation into a positive opportunity.

How do you ensure you stay authentic in business?

Amanda


What to do when you have an unhappy customer

An unhappy customer can be incredibly damaging to your business and reputation. People are 2-3 times more likely to tell others about a bad customer experience than a good customer experience.

Combine this with easy access to social media on mobiles and suddenly an unhappy customer can be voicing their dissatisfaction to the world within seconds – before they’ve had time to think things through or you’ve had a chance to rectify the situation.

So what do you do when you have an unhappy customer on your hands? Here are five tips to help you diffuse the situation and keep your reputation intact.

1. Deal with the situation swiftly

If you are faced with an unhappy customer, deal with the situation quickly, calmly and with a genuine desire to achieve a win/win outcome. If possible don’t let them leave your store or get off the phone until it has been resolved.

2. Listen without interruption

What an unhappy customer wants most is to be able to vent their frustrations without interruption and to feel heard. Giving them this opportunity and encouraging the conversation with a statement like “let’s go over what happened” is often the first step in diffusing the situation.  

As hard as it can be, particularly if you have been taken off guard, you need to resist the urge to interrupt, get defensive or try to solve the issue immediately.  Your only role at this time is to listen for the key issues and facts that are hiding beneath their emotional reaction.

3. Repeat back the problem

Once they have finished, if you need to, ask any additional questions that will help you identify the problem or ensure you’ve identified the right one. Then let them know you have heard them by repeating the problem back to them.

4. Be understanding and accountable

Once you’ve clarified the problem put yourself in your customer’s shoes. How would you feel in the same situation? Show them understanding and empathy.

If you have made a mistake, take responsibility for your actions and apologise. When you are honest, humble and accountable for your mistakes you will often turn a negative situation into a positive opportunity to wow your unhappy customer.

If you aren’t in the wrong, and have found through your questioning that the complaint is unfounded or that your customer has misinterpreted or done something wrong, still show your professionalism by being understanding and sensitive. Take the time to explain what has happened, outline any terms or conditions and if applicable why your processes or terms are this way.

5. Come to a solution

It is important to deal with each situation individually, taking into consideration the potential damage the customer in question may do to your business if it is left unresolved.

Come up with a solution to satisfy them personally, remembering it is always far better to have a short-term loss, then a long-term loss. Once the solution has been agreed on, take action immediately. Let them see that you are ready and willing to fix the problem on the spot.

When there isn’t a happily ever after…

Occasionally there are customers who can’t be pacified or contained, particularly in instances when the customer feels wronged but the business is not in the wrong. In these instances the most important thing to do is to keep all communication in writing, handle the situation with professionalism and seek legal council in the case of defamation or harassment.

Instead of being reactive, be proactive by looking after your existing customers so well that they can’t help but rave about you. Showcase your testimonials on your website and social media channels and let the positive word of mouth from your happy customers squash any possible negativity surrounding your business.

How do you handle unhappy customers?

Amanda


Six ways to generate publicity (that you may not have tried)

When it comes to generating publicity for your business, news releases are by far the most popular option. But they aren’t the only option. There are a number of tools you can use and angles you can take to capture the attention of journalists and editors.

To give you some ideas, here are six additional tools or angles that you may not have thought to use in order to generate more publicity for your business.

1. Trend Releases

Trend releases are often the most valuable to the media and will help you establish a reputation as a source. These releases contain information on developing trends, breaking research or other industry insights that would be unknown to the media or difficult for them to obtain.

These are ideal for industry specific publications though also for mainstream media provided the angle is highly newsworthy and affects or impacts a wide audience.

2. Expert Comment/Piggyback Releases

Expert comment releases are issued when a story breaks that would require a statement or comment from someone with your expertise. These are also great for positioning yourself as a source.

It could be a statement of support with additional information or an opposing view with facts to back up your opinion. Whatever your response, be sure to state you are available for interviews.

3. Letters to the Editor

Writing Letters to the Editor can be an effective venue for establishing yourself as an expert, addressing controversial issues, discussing industry developments, responding to claims and of course offering your opinion. To capture attention and increase your chance of being published make sure your response is insightful, sharp and articulated well.

4. Op-Ed Articles

Op-Ed articles are longer opinion pieces that (usually) appear on the same page as the Letters to the Editor. Just like the Letters to the Editor they are a great way to showcase your level of knowledge and insight. Once again carefully consider your position and make sure the opinion you put forward is insightful, researched, logical and well written.

5. Public Service Announcements

Public service announcements are messages in the public interest sent out by the media without charge, with the objective to raise awareness or change the public’s attitude or behaviour towards an issue or event. While they won’t suit every business, issue or event, it’s good to be aware of this option.

6. Reviews and giveaways

Many publications will review new or existing products for their “what’s new”, “things we love” or “check this out” sections so it pays to send a sample of your products or at least alert relevant publications to your products.

They will also hold regular giveaways either in their magazine, newsletter or on their website. Some happen monthly while others happen around key times of the year like Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Back to School, change of season and so on.  So it is good to send out a news release with the option to do a review and/or giveaway around these times.

Keep in mind that most publications will require a reasonable value or specific quantity of product to be included in a giveaway. To decide if the investment is worth it take into consideration the target audience of the publication, how large the audience is and the level of coverage and promotion you and the giveaway will receive.

Have you tried any different ways to generate publicity for your business?

Amanda


Four marketing mistakes that could be costing you big money and business

When done right marketing can generate you thousands of dollars in sales and grow your business to levels you had only dared dream of. But when done wrong, it can be a very costly exercise, not just in wasted spending, but also in lost opportunity and credibility.

To ensure your marketing is effective as possible, here are four of the most common mistakes businesses make regularly that could be costing you money and potential business.

#1 – Not following up

One of the biggest and most expensive mistakes you can make in marketing is to not follow up.

Whether you’ve attended a networking event, sent a sales letter, conducted a meeting or distributed a media release, if you want to increase your marketing results – always follow up.

Not every letter is delivered, not every email is seen, not every business card is kept and not every media release is opened. Following up gives you a second chance to convert the sale or opportunity.

#2 – Not up or cross selling existing customers

The second biggest marketing mistake a business can make is to focus only on bringing in new business instead of utilising their existing customers and database.

These are people who already have a need for your products or services and have seen the value in buying with you or at the very least hearing from you.  

While bringing in new business is important, look to up sell, cross sell and generate repeat sales your existing customers and database. They will always be the easiest leads to convert.

#3 – Targeting everyone

The third marketing mistake is to not be clear on your target market. There is no quicker way to waste your marketing dollars than to target anyone and everyone.

To be more strategic with your marketing know who needs your product or service and who has the problems you solve.

Once you know who they are look at their key motivators and influencers. What is most important to them? What keeps them up at night? What do they read? Who do they listen to? Who do they follow on social media? Where do they network?

Start to develop a profile of your audience so you can identify strategies and platforms that will make your marketing more targeted.

#4 – Not establishing your value

The fourth mistake is to not clearly articulate your value and why a customer should come to you above anyone else.

Even the cleverest advertising and most targeted marketing campaigns won’t help you if you can’t establish your value and convert the people you are talking to.

Before you embark on your next marketing campaign or print thousands of brochures, work out your target market’s needs, challenges and frustrations, how you can add value and why you are different to every other person out there offering the same products and services.

Are any of these marketing mistakes costing you business? What can you do today to ensure your marketing is more effective, targeted and profitable?

Amanda


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