Your customer contact list is as important, if not more important, than your product. You worked hard, paid money, and spent time to build up your client list, and that list is extremely valuable to you for several reasons.
Why should you build a contact list, and continue to market to the people on that list?
1. Past customers are easier to do business with again:
If a customer has done business with you, they are likely to do so again. They will be easier to sell to again because they already know you, and hopefully, they like you.
2. Build a tribe of loyal followers and raving fans:
Your tribe is made up of the people who love you. They are excited about what you have built and want to know about the new and exciting new things you create or the changes you might make with your business. Keeping in touch helps remind your tribe that you are an authority in your field.
3. Brand Loyalty:
If you keep people engaged, you are more likely to get brand loyalty with past customers, so they don’t go do business with a competitor because they “forgot” you were in that business. There’s nothing worse than seeing your neighbor using a competitor because you didn’t continue to market to them.
So, if you aren’t keeping a list of everyone you do business with, including anyone else who you have had a good interaction with, get on that today. Get a CRM now, and get going. Hubspot offers a free version that is easy to use and will get you on the path. See more here. You can also use Mailchimp for a simple email list.
Whatever you do, do something to keep a list of your customers. Today, I am going to share a story of why this is so important. It’s a story of when I was able to create $1,000,000+ in sales in one day for a local small business. It had everything to do with understanding the power of branding and nurturing a customer list.
I worked for a retail store in Henderson, NV that sold easy-to-play Lowery Organs. I mean the music kind of organs, not the body parts—shame on you! (pause for dramatic effect…)
They had customers from all walks of life, but their primary focus was selling the hobby to senior citizens who wanted to be part of the music world, and loved the social aspect of taking lessons and learning to play on these machines. Each day we held classes where people would come to learn how to use their machines, and play songs. We would also hold concerts from time to time so they could play for each other, and we always had fun birthday parties which were just an excuse to get together, have a potluck, and play more music.
It was a fun and fulfilling experience. It was also a great way for many of these seniors to be engaged in something fulfilling while seeing friends. The business model was that we would sell entry-level machines to seniors on a trial basis, and then, get them into classes. The classes were inexpensive and taught exclusively on the more complex and more expensive organs. Our job was to help people upgrade when they were ready to get a bigger machine. These machines were quite expensive, as many musical instruments often are, ranging in price from a couple thousand dollars, to upwards of $90,000 plus for the top-of-the-line machines. Each new version had extra bells and whistles that came in custom finishes of fine hardwood, and they were quite something to play. With a little bit of talent, you could really sound like a pro.
When I was hired, the owner of the store told me he thought opening a store in Henderson would be a good idea because he had another successful business in St. George, UT, only a couple of hours away. However, it soon became a burden because he couldn’t get anyone to run the business properly, and he was losing money. He was sick of repeating a 4-hour drive down and back and wanted the store to run on its own. He made me an offer, and I accepted.
When I got to work, I quickly realized this business had raving fans. These senior citizens were big fans of the product, the classes, and the lifestyle of learning to play an instrument. I had to brush up on my 1950s music, but I was quickly welcomed into the family. It was so much fun.
After I got situated, my first item of business was to sort through the list of current and past customers. Luckily, they kept track of everyone and had them all in a spreadsheet. I made my plans to not only reactivate anyone who had quit coming to classes but to also clean up the list. One of the hardest parts of that business was that your best customers often came to the end of their lives. It was sad, and I attended too many funerals while I worked there.
We cleaned up the list and had a good number of people on it, which we were going to start to nurture. I started a print, mailed newsletter. In it, we would do a history piece on a musician, or a call-out to anyone’s birthday that month for people on the list. We spotlighted one of the organs that was for sale and had other fun information as part of our newsletter. People instantly loved receiving it and would talk about it during their classes.
I had 3 goals with this newsletter. One was to reactivate customers who might not be attending classes currently. The second was to tie everyone together with a piece of the culture they could participate in, and be part of. The third was to generate more referrals, interest, and overall engagement leading up to our big product reveals. Lowery, the parent company, would release new flagship top-of-the-line products every 4-6 years. I wanted to maximize opportunities for us to sell these new machines when they were launched a little more than one year later.
My efforts paid off in each of my goal areas. We had more students, more excitement, and more fun happening every day. We started moving some of our used organs, which were much more price-friendly than the new models, and great for those on a limited budget.
We were excited about the upcoming launch of the new product too. I knew this would help pull off a huge sales launch. The discipline it took for us to put this newsletter together every month was honestly a pain. It took time, $, and effort, but I knew it was going to work.
Then the day arrived. The new machine was called the Lowery Prestige. It would cost $90,000 retail and was a beautiful machine. We announced its arrival in every class, in our newsletter, and planned a huge celebration launch party where we brought in a professional player who was sure to wow our audience. We made up special invitations for our top customers who were most likely to want to trade in their old models for a new one.
At the same time, the owner of the store was preparing for the same launch at his store in St. George. He was excited because, after a few years of tough sales in the Henderson store, he was feeling the pinch financially. This launch was important. The day came, and our people all showed up. We had great attendance and people loved this new machine. It was such a cool machine and was beautiful. Everyone loved the concert put on by a flamboyant professional musician who resembled Elton John. He even had a sparkling jacket. He could play backward and forward and just made these instruments sing. It was great.
After the concert, the sales conversations began. We met with everyone as they all enjoyed a meal. People loved the new product, and we sold 13 units that day. It was a $1,000,000 sales day! About half a million in cash and half a million in trade-ins. We were so excited. The next day, the more established and more seasoned store in St. George had the same event, but they only sold 9 units. I was ecstatic that we beat the main store, and the reason we did was because of the work we had been doing over the previous year. It was a major success. The owner was pleased and I felt vindicated because I had to constantly justify the expense and time it took to make these newsletters, and now, my plans had come to fruition.
I was younger and much less experienced in marketing at that time, but I knew my plan would work, and it did. If you have a business that has return business possibilities, what are you doing to nurture your clients? Do they know you even exist, or were you just a company that did something for them one time?
You should be nurturing your client list continually. You should be thinking about how to build up to large product launches, or new efforts. Speak to those you have done business with so they remember you, and you become part of their life.
You might be thinking, but Ryan, we are a plumber, or a car wash, or something else that a newsletter wouldn’t work for. My response is, do something. Keep in touch. Help people remember who you are and what you do. Send them a birthday coupon or gift. Give discounts to those who come back. Even car companies have loyal customer rebates they offer from time to time.
This isn’t an instant result. The music store took more than a year to pay off, and they had a big list. It might take you longer. The discipline to make this happen is your key to success. You should be thinking of a way to keep people engaged and tuned in. You never know, it may turn into a $1,000,000 opportunity.