You have a system in place for monitoring your CRM to evaluate what’s working and what isn’t. The next step is creating and implementing strategies based on what you’ve learned.
Make sure that you have clear goals for reaching existing customers, referral sources, and prospects and getting them to respond. What tasks are your team doing daily, weekly or monthly to achieve these goals? Here are some strategies and tasks we typically use.
Pushing messages out to undifferentiated segments of customers (a practice known as “spray and pray”) is becoming increasingly ineffective. There’s a reason for that. Nobody wants to feel like they are part of the undifferentiated masses.
What we’ve found over and over again is that for promotions to be most effective, they need to be tailored to address the needs of each group. For example, while you could treat “existing customers” as one big group, you will be better served to break it into smaller groups by looking at their behavior. Lifetime value, products or services purchased and frequency (new customer, recently purchased, haven’t purchased in 6 months, haven’t purchased in past 12 months) are often useful ways to segment your customer lists.
Think about your sales cycle so you can determine when to reach out to them for an upsell, x-sell or to purchase again. There are several marketing touches you can schedule to make sure that you are top of mind in order to nurture them through the sales funnel. Make sure you are clear about how you are going to present an offer to get them to purchase again. How your customers respond to your offers will help you develop an overall contact/content strategy and your editorial calendar.
Make sure you are managing your list of existing customers regularly. You can waste valuable time and energy talking to the wrong people. (Bounces can teach you things as well - customers moving could be an opportunity to retain business or bring in new business.)
Referrals are critically important to your business, but are often not given the attention they deserve. You need to review your relationships with referral sources on a regular basis. You can do it daily, weekly, or monthly, depending on what makes the most sense for your sales cycle, but you need to do it!
You should treat referral sources like leads; try to communicate with them often - at events, on the phone and over email, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Ask yourself: When was the last time I referred business to them? How can I make them look good? Have I endorsed them on LinkedIn, promoted their event on Twitter or given them a rave review on Yelp? Have I thanked them for their referral?
The bottom line: Show your gratitude to those who give you referrals. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money (or even any). Keep notes letting you know the last time you connected with them and set aside time to nurture them as part of your routine.
Once you have identified who your best referral sources are and how you found them, you can develop new referrals using the same methodology. For example, a bike company that’s had a number of strong referrals come from the local Land Trust will want to make sure that their connection with the Land Trust (and other like-minded organizations) is maintained or enhanced. Taking the time to research where you get your referrals and how to find more of them will help inform your marketing strategy and implementation.
Now that you know who your best customers are, we suggest that you create customer profiles or personas that represent the customers you want. Armed with that information you can build a solid pipeline through your Strategic Marketing and Sales Playbook.
The most important data is that which affirms who you are (and who you’re not)
How you want your customers to see your company and how they actually see your company are often different — sometimes startlingly so. Changing perception is more difficult and more expensive than working with the insights that you have at hand.
Prospecting for new customers is expensive (as the old adage goes, it’s easier to get existing customers to do more business with you than to find new ones). Yet, you need to be constantly bringing new customers into the fold. The first step in doing it effectively is having a clear understanding of who your prospective customers are and who they are not. Spending time trying to talk to people that don’t want to listen is a complete waste of time and money.
19 Oaks works with data analytics specialists that can crunch all the data you have on your customers and leverage additional resources to qualitatively determine your best sources of new prospects. But, if you need to do it on your own using a more subjective approach, the exercise can yield positive results. Start by pulling together your marketing, sales, frontline staff and production teams to see what you can learn about your prospects. The stated purpose of your meeting should be to determine who your prospects are (e.g., business professionals, outdoor enthusiasts, foodies) and where they are (networking meetings, gyms, farmer’s markets) so that you can “join them” in social media, at events, sponsor the things they love and join and/or support the organizations they belong to.
Joining and supporting organizations is an important part of developing your customer and referral bases. Your customers and prospects are watching. They want to support and refer friends to do business with companies that support activities and causes they already support.
B2B examples — Let’s say you’re a Maine-based business that specializes in commercial real estate, construction and development. You would want to join an organization like MEREDA. If you were a hospitality and tourism business, you’d want to join The Greater Portland Convention and Visitors Bureau. If you were a family owned business, you’d want to join Maine Institute for Family Owned Business. If you were a manufacturer, you’d want to join the Maine Manufacturing Association. (In some cases, you’d want to join more than one organization to broaden your reach.)
B2C Examples - If you were based in Maine and were selling running shoes, active apparel or wanted to be known for supporting healthy outdoor activities, we might recommend sponsoring Tri-for a Cure or Beach to Beacon. If you were a supporter of the arts, we might recommend sponsoring Creative Portland or Portland Ovations.
Tip - Sometimes we work with companies that haven’t reviewed their corporate giving policies with an eye toward strengthening their alignment with charities that would be a better strategic fit. If you haven’t done this kind of top down assessment lately, we recommend it.