Marketing by Database
Most businesses have a powerful marketing guru at their disposal—and they probably aren’t even aware of it. The guru is any staff person who is savvy about the use of databases.
Most businesses have some of their customer information on computer—probably in the accounting software database—and they can export the data into a standalone database application. In most cases the data includes the customers’ names, addresses and purchase histories. With that information alone you can devise some interesting marketing strategies.
For example, using Zip codes, you can target a sales effort to geographic areas. With knowledge of past purchases, you can focus on customers for upgrade sales or complementary products.
If you have customers’ e-mail addresses, you can use the database to e-mail newsletters or special promotions. An e-mail does not need a 33-cent stamp. The opportunities are endless.
If no one on your staff is database savvy, train a bright employee.
Get Feedback From Customers
Consider putting together a customer advisory council—a group of recent and longtime customers. Ask them what they want from your company—what they like, don’t like, what needs improvement. Ask them, too, what new services or products they would like to see your company develop.
Reward them with special discounts and priority service. The cost is small compared with what you’d have to pay to compensate an outside consultant to tell you half as much.
More Productive Meetings
Meetings don’t have to be long and unproductive. Some steps to make them both powerful and swift:
Invest in the First-Time Customer
No one has to tell you how expensive it is to acquire new customers. But do you do anything special to be sure that you keep them?
In all likelihood, if you’re going to have a problem with a customer, it’s going to surface with the first order: That’s the time when he or she is least familiar with your company and its products or services. So it’s probably worth your while to provide special treatment at that time. You may want the sales department to follow up with a call to be sure everything is all right and to provide a convenient way to report problems. It’s a good time to tell the new customer how much you appreciate the business.