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Once you’ve done the hard work of landing a customer, you’d be remiss to let them go. No matter your line of work – photographer, jewelry-maker, consultant – repeat business is always the least-expensive, highest-return business. That’s why author and maker Tara Swiger shared a few of her favorite techniques for keeping buyers coming back when she taught Building Your Customer Path.
Repeat customers save you, as a small business owner, money, because you’ve already spent the marketing dollars needed to capture your buyer’s attention and you won’t have to spend it again. Even if you are using “free” marketing tools like social media, your time is money, so it counts, too.
The trick to landing repeat buyers is solidifying yourself in their mind as the go-to person for the service you offer. At Tara put it, “the person has to remember that you exist and that they can come back to you again.” And there are three easy ways to take that foothold:
1) Delight Them
“In order to build loyal and repeat customers, you have to completely delight them. And I like the word delight because it indicates some kind of surprise.” The kind of surprise Tara is talking doesn’t have to be a bunch of freebies. In fact you should only throw in freebies when they align with your brand.
In a world of impersonal customer service and big box stores, simply doing more than the minimum goes a long way.“Delighting them means you have everything in alignment with what they were expecting and you gave them exactly what you said you would when you said you would do it.”
Packaging and presentation is an obvious and easy way add in delightful elements. As Tara explains packaging helps you, “bring more of your brand quality into the world. If its all about ease or if its all about memories, you want the experience of opening it to be like that.”
2) Keep Talking to Them
While you don’t want to pester your customers, you do want to stay top of mind. So make sure your marketing plan includes regular, helpful communication with existing buyers. “The easiest way to keep talking to them is to get them on your email list so you are regularly sending them messages to them.”
Plan for your follow up from the very beginning of a transaction and plot your course for getting consent for future contact. You can send thank-you notes after invoices are paid or inquires about satisfaction, either way the most important question is, “how will you get your customers on your list?”
3) Make Them a Part of Something Bigger
Your buyers have joined the special club you established when you started selling things – make them feel like its a really cool club. Pretty much all humans want to feel that all-important sense of belonging and you can create that by celebrating their participation with your brand and connecting them with other buyers – even in an abstract way.
Your job is to, as Tara explains it, “help make them feel like they are part of the community of people who are into your thing.” And you can do that by addressing the people on your email list by a clever name or holding events, online or off. On Tara’s website she immediately makes you feel like a part of the club by welcoming you with the greeting, “Welcome, Adventurer!” Whatever it is, make sure it feels genuine and deepens their sense of connection to you, your brand and your brand’s story.
If you want more tips on keeping customers loyal or nabbing them in the first place, check out Tara’s 3-part series, Marketing for Crafters.