Written by Wassim Karkabi Leading Business & Executive Coach, and Master Licensee of ActionCOACH in the Middle East
You can double the number of customers or clients within a few weeks by following these five simple but highly effective steps in generating leads and successfully converting them into paying customers.
1. Build a Loyalty Ladder to Create “Raving Fans”
Loyal customers are ideal customers. Those loyalists who sometimes refer others to the business are even more valuable because they are active advocates. But the most prized clients and customers are those who become so energised about the level of service they receive that they cannot stop telling others about it. These “raving fans” are a golden asset to any business and a tremendous source of new customers.
If a business focuses on identifying loyal customers and then offers them an extremely high level of service, they will become ‘cheer leaders’ for the business and the investment will pay off many times over.
For a company to rise to this level of appeal requires an intentional effort to personalise each transaction and aspect of the customer service relationship. Rather than offering a preferred customer a standard discount coupon, a business owner might instead offer them tickets to a golf tournament or symphony, deliver flowers or a gift basket to them or pamper them in other special and memorable ways. The investment in service should be calculated based on the value of the business that the ‘raving fan’ brings to the company. Customer service is elevated to become an incentive and the rewards program tailored to the individual client.
2. Identify a Target Market for Direct Mail
Direct mail campaigns work best for reaching a consumer demographic that is defined and identified as a focus group. Unlike broad methods of advertising that hit everyone within a given geographic area, direct mail is intended to arrive at the doorstep of those consumers who are considered great candidates for the business’s products and services.
To clarify the demographic, it may be helpful to know, for example, basic information about the recipients such as their age, gender, income level, buying habits and place of residence. Mailing lists of people who meet specific criteria can usually be purchased for a premium from direct mail companies, clubs, organisations and survey companies. But the least expensive – and often most effective – way to generate a relevent mailing list is to hold a giveaway contest. Those who submit their mailing address on an entry form are obviously interested in winning that product or service. So this helps to pre-screen them as potential customers.
3. Create a Referral Program
Design a referral program that rewards customers for bringing others into the customer base. Referral rewards can be in the form of discounts, gifts, invitations to special events or “closed door” sales events where only certain customers are invited to participate and take advantage of savings, exclusive products or other preferred customer perks.
A referral program can borrow ideas and schemes from the raving fan concept, but will be executed in a simpler and more general fashion. Many customers have friends, co-workers and family members who require the same products and services so referral is an organic process of growing a customer base by using existing customers as a resource for community outreach.
4. Weed Out Bad Clients and Cater to the Best
Contrary to popular belief, it’s sometimes advantageous to lose customers if the business owner deliberately orchestrates the loss. Prioritising the kind of customers a business prefers to have makes it possible to eliminate those who create unnecessary headaches and detract from better serving more valuable customers. It also allows a company to focus on attracting those desirable customers who represent the bulk of the business and contribute most to the profits. Eliminating those who are a liability can help increase the number of customers in the profitable database.
Identify who the best customers are by applying the ‘80-20’ rule which states that 80 percent of a company’s business comes from 20 percent of its customers. Treat those customers particularly well and invest extra energy in satisfying their needs while extending service above and beyond the call of duty. They form the core of the customer base and by cultivating them it’s possible to create more customers who are similarly extraordinary, loyal and lucrative. Birds of a feather flock together and the needs of the best customers will always be the same as the best potential customers the company is trying to attract. Learn to cater to those needs and those kinds of clients. Then the customer base and net profits will grow automatically in a healthy and more rewarding direction.
5. Create Strategic Business Alliances
Partner with other businesses that have a common customer demographic but no actual direct competition. A company can expand its customer base quickly and easily this way. Those customers who trust other businesses and have proven their loyalty to them will be inclined to follow their recommendations or perceived endorsements of an alliance partner – which is why corporate sponsorships of major events like auto races and concerts are so common.
Locate businesses that share the same philosophy, style and corporate culture or personality. An upscale Realtor partnering with a refined home decorating gallery makes sense, whereas an alliance between a stockbroker or luxury boat dealership and someone operating a pawn shop is unlikely to benefit anyone involved.
By choosing good alliances it’s possible to build all sorts of creative campaigns to increase a customer base. Advertise jointly, throw a party or event together, team up to support local charities or give preferential treatment to customers who also do business with strategic partners. The alliances are a form of networking that shares the common goal of growing each other’s customer base. It is based on the premise that two heads are often better than one. For example, a professional image consultant might team up with a clothing boutique, a spa, a luxury automotive dealership, a catering company and/or a travel agency. Nobody in that scenario is in direct competition but they can all fuel each other’s customer database with pre-qualified and pre-screened leads. It’s a win / win situation for the businesses and also for their shared clientele.
In the next issue of SAFM, Pieter Scholtz with take you through another six ways to double your customer base in a matter of weeks.
ActionCOACH has over a 1000 offices / coaches across 51 countries including 3 in Middle East. It has been named by Franchise Direct as one of the “Top 100 Global Franchises” in the world.