Traditional wisdom tells us that a company’s “best customers” are the ones that generate the highest sales volume. It also says that 80% of growth comes from the top 20%. But are these claims really true? Many trusted publications — including Byron Sharp’s “How Brands Grow” — offer some compelling evidence to the contrary. Indeed, size and services play a factor too, meaning what’s right for one company may be terrible for another.
So which customers are really valuable today? Consider these client types and ways you can grow them:
The Newbie — Buyers that are new to a particular product or service can be a headache. While some might require lots of hand-holding, others can be downright flaky. Some professionals, such as realtors, accountants, or lawyers, may be used to this. For others, such as marketing agencies and graphic design firms, newbie clients can suck up so much time that they're completely unprofitable. For either, the key is education. Send comparison charts on your services or product line’s features. Create newsletters or blogs that offer easy how-to steps. Focus on their pain points (i.e., where they cause the most work for you), and give them tools to improve. You’ll make their — and your — job easier and build loyalty as well.
The Cheapskate — Some people are always looking for a “deal,” negotiating the last penny off every estimate, and then expecting superior service. Yeah, you know the type. These clients are not only draining financially, but emotionally overwhelming too. The cheapskate is never a good client, but for small entrepreneurs, they can actually cost you money. Instead of suffering through it, find a partner who can take them on. If the buyer is big, work out an arrangement that you get a cut of their sales for the first year. This way, you actually make a little money while freeing yourself up to work on profitable clients. Typically, such an attitude is just due to personality. However, if this is emblematic of a particular type of company — industry, size, geography — you'll want to avoid this group in your marketing.
The Brand Champion — Clients that love you and everything you do always seem to be the ones with just an annual job. Even though they aren't wonderful in dollars, they have significant other value. Equip these clients with lot of your business cards. Give them coupons to hand out and incentives for referrals. Ask them to write a review on yelp, Angie’s List, BBB, Foursquare, or just for your own website and marketing materials. As more companies move buying to the web, these testimonials can be huge draws in your new business development.
The Curmudgeon — It’s easy to dismiss the grouchy customer. The one who complains that your product has this flaw or that your service has that flaw. Certainly, if he/she is new client, this is not a great one. However, longtime discerning (nice word for “grouchy”) clients can be extremely valuable. They’re the ones who reinforce that what you’re doing is indeed good, but you need a few refinements to become great. Translate their gripes into suggestions and integrate them. Then promote your improvements. Focus their mailers on new and improved offerings. Personalize coupons to encourage them to try them. Or just send a thank you note for their ongoing interest in helping you build your business. A little appreciation can yield a lot of respect, and may make it easier to work with them.
The Creel Companies offer comprehensive data services for clients of all industries and sizes. We can handle your targeting, list management, segmentation, and mailstreaming — and produce your materials — all in-house. Plus, with consultative design and marketing support, we can help you devise creative campaigns to win your best customers.
Contact your Digital Lizard rep today for help in your next new business development campaign. Call 1.800.494.6155 or click below.