I wonder how many people remember the very first customer they served and recorded in their books; that person (or organization) who believed in your product or service giving hope that you were doing the right thing by starting your business. These customers simply choose to trust that you would deliver a need at hand. They did not have a chance to see a demo, or hear a testimonial from an already existing customer; they were the first customer after all. They believed in the promise you made in that proposal, the promise that you would deliver.
With time, you have built your customer base to immeasurable numbers. Unfortunately, the more the numbers grow, the more we lose sight of the customers we already have and the more we insist that marketers work hard at chasing and seducing new customers. While we are out in the field, we have forgotten that our existing customers ought to be our first target in our marketing efforts-after all, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
So, what can we do with this customer who is already in our growing portfolio? The reason why marketers robustly create marketing campaigns is to bring on board more and more customers for the products and services on offer.
The existing customers already believe in what we are selling because they are already using it. Through that customer, our brand has borne roots. That customer is also the reason why we are continually building our brand and representing it in a positive light in the eyes of the new customers we are working so hard to win.
While we are working so hard to woo other people out there to join the league of our existing customers, the customer at hand is looking out for something new to satisfy a need that has just popped up which you cannot offer since you are busy elsewhere.
While you are not paying attention, your competitor is busy creating something new. Eventually, this will make your existing customer exit to the new product offered by your competitor- and why should you complain? They need something new, and since you cannot offer it, they will move to the one who is doing so.
If your organization is like the one I work for, you may be deceived that existing customers are complacent. They may seem to be happy with what they are getting at the moment. Nevertheless, you cannot tell when they have had enough and are just about to be won by the competition. I think they think we will get disappointed if they disclose their desire for something new.
They, therefore, keep quiet and as marketers, our challenge is to be at the top of our game, constantly discerning their needs and aiming to fulfill them. Of vital importance, reaching these customers can be done on a shoestring budget. How? You wonder. By using every bit of the brand that touches your customers – from packaging to the web, as a communication tool as well as actively promoting its usage.
The first way of growing business from existing customers is to keep them satisfied and interested in your product or service. Let us take an example of how the famous online network ‘Linked In’ did that. ‘Linked In’ can be said to be the equivalent of ‘Facebook’ for the business people. Initially, the risk with this service was that people stopped to use it after the novelty had worn off.
Once you joined, there was nothing to keep you on board. However, the brains behind it are constantly working on the usability of this page.
For instance, there is a clever addition that has made most businesses get interested in the novelty. This addition is a feature that suggests people you may want to connect to. It is pretty interesting because business people thrive through networking and the more they link with others, the more active this feature becomes since it suggests other people.
These people are suggested from all over the world. They could be people you will never meet physically, but hey, great minds think alike, right? It is no wonder today that you find almost all professionals linked in. the marketers of ‘Linked In’ for instance are constantly inventing new ways of keeping their existing customers interested and more hooked into their site.
You may also grow your business through your existing customers by building your brand’s share of usage with those customers. I wish it was as easy as I have written; but then, we all know customers’ behavior is unpredictable. When they choose a brand to use, they make it their utmost goal to make that brand one of their favourites and vice versa. This then leaves marketers wondering how they ought to keep that brand the customers’ favourite even in the midst of the competition.
Let’s take a look at how the makers of breakfast cereals have made it in the market. I grew up quite familiar with one of the best-known brands, Weetabix. This brand has been tried by many people and it is a household name. However, in the past year, we have seen this brand in a different light, with a campaign suggesting different and interesting ways of eating Weetabix as a tasty and healthy breakfast.
For the already loyal customers of the brand, they now have a reason to believe more in it. The promise of a tastier healthier breakfast rocks, hence a reason to stick to the brand, consuming it more and more.
Today, we know we can have Weetabix for breakfast with yogurt, fruits or any other nutritional complementary foods, thanks to this marketing campaign.
Who wouldn’t remember Scotts Emulsion, the fish oil that almost all kids were forced to take? To some, it was a delicacy while to others it was not. Most parents, however, believed that it was the only way through which their kids would grow stronger.
Most mothers who had children used this brand and as their children grew up, they became parents who would more often than not go to the old way of believing in the legacy of Scotts Emulsion.
Today, the geniuses behind marketing this brand have modified the product, giving it all sorts of flavours! In place of the flat cod liver oil that was forced down the throat of children is a sweet flavoured Scotts Emulsion brand; tasty, but serving the same purpose it used to…. And I bet you would not trade Scotts Emulsion for any other brand for your child, would you?
Existing customers could sustain your business for the longest time, as long as marketers create new reasons to sustain them. The attraction of chasing after something new is always strong … we want new products and services, which will then be marketed to the new customer, supposedly expected to come on board after we launch this new product or service. But as life’s coach will tell you, making the most of what you already have can ultimately be more fulfilling and rewarding.