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Sunday, July 26, 2009

NET-TECH REPORT: 7 Ways To Leverage Technology and Stay In Touch With Your Customer

Net-Tech Report with Chris Kauza

It's often been said that the cost to maintain and gain new sales from your existing customers is often significantly less than the cost of gaining new sales from brand new customers. Personally, I think you should do both - and here are a few quick tips on how you can too, without a lot of extra time or effort.

You can use these four, low-cost ways to strengthen your relationship with your existing customers:
  • Newsletters - these can be sent out on a pre-determined schedule. I tell my clients that they should send out shorter newsletters with more frequency, rather than longer ones only once a quarter. Why? If you remain "top of mind" with your customers, they will be more likely to reach out to you when they have a question. What should you include? News about your company, information on trends that affect your customers, new products / services you may be investigating (and asking for their input), announcements of success that your customers have're only limited by your imagination. And while you don't always need a professional copywriter, you should consider working with one. You know your business than anyone else, but a professional copywriter knows how to communicate that to others better than you do.
  • Coupons and "Specials" - everyone loves to get a deal on something, regardless of the product, service or price point. Are there certain times when your business is slower than others? Consider publishing a special for existing customers only through different channels - include it with a monthly invoice, use a special "email blast" to your customers, or Tweet about it on your company's Twitter account (you've set that up already, haven't you? If not check out these earlier posts where we discussed some of the benefits of using Twitter in your business).
  • Conference Call and/or Webinars - a well-used vehicle in the halls of Corporate America, the ubiquitous "concall" has now come to the rest of the world. There are a number of companies and services that can provide your business - regardless of size - the power to simultaneously reach hundreds of customers. Many companies use them to introduce new products or services and "pre-sell" their customer base prior to the product's or service's launch. You can also use them for monthly or quarterly focus groups (sometimes called Customer Councils).
  • Your existing phone system - do you have tips on how to better use your products or services? An upcoming appearance or webinar that might be of interest to your customers? A limited promotion you are running for your product or service? Make this your "on-hold" music while your customers wait to speak with you.
What about attracting new customers? As bad as things might be for your company now, this is a temporary lull with new opportunities right around the corner. There are trends building right now, for which you can position your company to be the expert. How do you find these? Here are three sources to start with:
  • Universities - a great source for demographic data is CensusScope, a University consortium that compiles and provides demographic data. They've done all the work for you - all you need to do is to read it and apply it!
  • Your Local Library - specifically, the Reference section of your local public library. Ask for the Reference Librarian on duty; you will be amazed at how much they want to help you! Ask them for their help in accessing the "Reference USA database". This is a free information resource that is provided in partnership with InfoUSA - the largest provider of list information in the United States. You may have used them if you have used InfoUSA, SalesGenie, etc. to generate any kind of prospecting list for your company. The information you will find here is generally dated (by about a quarter) - but it's free and usually "good enough" for most companies - regardless of size or budget. While you will be limited to a certain number of downloads per session, you can use it to generate targeted lists of hundreds of prospects for your business very quickly - and all for free!
All of these technologies can be applied with little or no additional expense, and are very easy to use - but you have to make the decision to use them. Pick two to start with this month and apply them to your business. The information is there - you just have to act on it.

Do you have a business-related question but don't know who to ask? I can help! Contact me at Chris "at" AskABusinessGuy dot com, or follow me on Twitter at @ChrisKauza.

For more information, please visit Chris' TNNW Bio.

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Eileen Burick said...

Thanks for your insightful and helpful article, Chris!

Chris Kauza said...

You are welcome, Ellen! I am glad you found the article helpful.

One thing you may want to consider (that I'll be discussing in next month's article) is incorporating a light box opt-in form as part of your customers' flash-designed websites.

Light boxes are a less intrusive way to profile a "call to action" for prospective customers - turning an attractive and informative website into one that can directly help customer grow their businesses. And, given how many of them are encoded, they can more easily be integrated into the overall "look and feel" of a website.

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