Published on: Nov 17, 2012 by Gabi Hirina
As you’re building your business’ client base, it’s much more efficient to cultivate relationships with long-term clients (the kind you’d go steady with if they were men) as opposed to clients who buy from you once and then disappear (much like a one-time date). Establishing a loyal client base frees you up to spend more time earning money (that is why you’re in business, after all, right?) and meeting current clients’ needs—with less time spent hustling to market yourself and find new prospects.
Here are five strategies that encourage clients to keep coming back for more:
*Put your best foot forward. Happy clients are more likely to hire you again, so make sure you always deliver a quality product or service—and deliver on time, too. Also present yourself as a professional and show appreciation (without seeming desperate, of course, you don’t want to give off that vibe) to your clients for their business. Invest in good-quality branding and design for your products or a great-looking website to make a positive impression. As they say, the “devil is in the details,” so don’t skimp.
*Offer referral bonuses. Referral bonuses are a great way to not only expand your client base, but to reward those wonderfully enthusiastic clients who sing your praises. They could take the form of cash rewards, discounts on future purchases, Starbucks cards, or special thank you gifts (chocolate, anyone? Perhaps even dark chocolate custom-printed with your logo on the package!). You can encourage referrals and promote your bonus system in your email signature, your ezine, and other communications.
*Create value adds. Offering too many discounts can cheapen your business’ image, so instead of discounting the price your product or service, going the extra mile and offer extra “value adds.” For instance, if you sell info-products, perhaps create a special package and throw in a bonus ebook or audio recording that would interest your users (I do this all the time). If you run a day spa, consider giving your loyal clients a mini-massage or extra samples of the products you sell. (Those cute little bottles are great for travel!) Get creative.
*Add complementary products or services. If you offer services or products that clients need on a sporadic basis, consider expanding your offerings to meet their day-to-day needs. If you design websites, for instance, clients may only need a brand new website every few years. Adding other services like designing and maintaining company Facebook pages gives them a reason to continue working with you. The same goes for a once-in-a-lifetime (we hope) purchase like wedding photography. If that’s your niche, why not offer anniversary photo shoots or newborn photo shoots so they can document new memories as the family grows?
*Follow up afterwards. After you cater that baby shower or send in that killer PowerPoint deck, check in with the client to make sure she was happy with the finished product. If not, see what you can do to remedy the situation. (If you handle it quickly and professionally, most people will appreciate your proactive approach) If they were happy, express your thanks for their business and your readiness to help in the future. Often business owners are too busy chasing that next sale to follow up, but that step will actually help land future sales, so don’t skip it.
What’s YOUR experience? I’d love to hear how you encourage client loyalty, so leave a comment and let us know!
© 2012 Ali International, LLC
“Entrepreneur mentor Ali Brown teaches women around the world how to start and grow profitable businesses that make a positive impact. Get her FREE CD “Top 10 Secrets for Entrepreneurial Women” at www.AliBrown.com”