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Getting new customers is a huge focus for small business owners, and rightly so. But it’s easy to spend so much time and energy courting new customers that you forget about the customers you already have. That can be a costly mistake, because marketing to your existing customers can be a profitable source of add-on business.

A recent study by Influitive measured how businesses of all sizes market to existing customers and found that doing so can really pay off. Here’s what they learned:

  • Actively pursuing additional revenue from existing customers is considered “significantly important” to about 75 percent of respondents.
  • That’s why 92 percent of companies studied have customer marketing initiatives.
  • As a result, 53 percent report moderate to significant revenue from these efforts.

Here’s a closer look at the most popular methods businesses in the study use to market to existing customers, and ideas for incorporating them in your own business—whether it’s B2B or B2C.

  • Hosting customer and/or user events

More than 60 percent of companies polled do this. If you’re hosting events for B2B companies, it helps to have some educational component. For example, host an online webinar or offline seminar where experts from your company advise customers on how to do something better, overcome a common industry challenge or talk about upcoming trends for the new year. Don’t give a hard sell, but present at least some challenges or trends that your business can help customers handle.

  • If you sell B2C, user events can be fun and festive, like an after-hours party at your clothing boutique for your best customers to enjoy a fashion show and get early access to next season’s fashions, or a special tasting dinner at your restaurant that’s invitation-only. By creating a sense of exclusivity, you encourage customers to feel a special relationship with your business—and buy more from you.
  • Starting a customer testimonial program

Over half of companies in the survey have a testimonial program in place. Testimonials are valuable advertising tools, but if you only gather testimonials haphazardly, you’re not maximizing their value. Develop a system for asking all satisfied customers if they’d like to give a testimonial. Make it easy by using an online form or email so they just have to fill in the blanks. Be sure to ask right after you’ve ascertained they’re happy with the product or service, while the purchasing experience is still fresh in their minds.

  • Creating an online customer community

More than half of companies in the survey use this tactic. It sounds complex, but really, all you have to do is take advantage of social media to start a community on whatever social network your customers use—whether that’s launching a group for your business customers on LinkedIn or engaging with new moms on Facebook. When you have a thriving community, you’ll not only be able to let them know about your new products or services to encourage more buying, but you can also listen to what they want from your business so you can develop new product or service lines and new revenue streams.

  • Developing cross-sell and/or upsell campaigns

Half of companies surveyed do this. It’s simple to do by making sure your salespeople are well versed in all the products or services that make good add-ons to purchases. For instance, if a business customer buys a copier from your company, upsell them to a warranty program and/or monthly servicing, then cross-sell regular delivery of toner and paper along with their service. If you own a restaurant, train servers to suggest appetizers, higher-priced beverages and desserts or coffee instead of just taking orders for entrees and water.

  • Starting a customer referral program

I’m surprised only 46 percent of survey respondents do this, since it’s one of the single most effective ways of generating more business from current customers. As with testimonials, the key is setting up a system to ensure you regularly request referrals from each satisfied customer after you’ve made sure they are, indeed, happy with your product or service. Again, make it as simple as possible, whether that’s filling out a quick form at the point-of-sale or responding to an email from your business. Last, but not least, follow up on those referrals quickly before they go stale.

By implementing these tactics, you’ll see revenues grow. SCORE mentors can help you put customer marketing into practice and suggest even more ways to encourage additional sales from existing customers. Visit www.score.org to get matched with a mentor today.

About the Author(s)

Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company specializing in covering small businesses and entrepreneurship and SmallBizDaily.com.

CEO, GrowBiz Media

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