When it comes to business in general, pretty much anyone will tell you that it’s much cheaper to get a repeat sale out of an existing customer than it is to acquire a new customer. Not only is this true for small-medium business, but it’s a concept that small-medium business owners and marketers can be great at!
So, how can you put customer referral and loyalty programs into motion for your business? For small-medium B2C businesses, these three tactics are key to earning repeat business and word of mouth recommendations that can bring in new customers.
How to Get Repeat and Referral Business for SMB
#1. Ask for, monitor, and respond to reviews!
Reviews are crucial to small, local businesses and services. One bad review can really make prospective customers hesitate entering into business with you. A lack of reviews can make a prospective customer question how experienced you are or whether your product or service is good enough to warrant a review. For both repeat and referral business, you need reviews! You need reviews to look like a legitimate business online, to inspire trust, and to gain feedback on how you’re performing with your customers.
You want to make sure you’re asking your best customers for reviews and also monitoring review sites regularly to handle any negative reviews that might show up. The best way to do this is to really come up with an internal “system” or process that you or your team can follow regularly so asking for reviews doesn’t fall to the bottom of your to-do list. You can create a home grown process or you could enlist an outside tool like Signpost that helps monitor and ask for customer reviews.
#2. Develop Customer Relationships: Optimize Referral & Loyalty Programs
There’s nothing better than repeat or referral business. Customers that come back to you because they were satisfied with your business are often easier customers going forward. And customers that come to you because they were referred by a previous customer is already more willing to trust in you because of the word of mouth referral!
Again for referrals, just like with reviews, all you have to do is ask! Offer your existing customers special offers for coming back to you, or even a little bonus for referring a customer to you.
Some nice ways to do this:
- Put together a book of referral coupons you can include in a thank you packet. Make a coupon for your existing customer and a coupon for the newly referred customer so both can feel a little win!
- Create a major discount for past customers only and make it special! This means, don’t drag out this discount, make sure to offer this huge deal at the same time once or twice a year (perhaps during a time when business is usually slow for you) – so your past customers can know when to expect this discount and know that it isn’t a monthly sales ploy they can take their time acting on.
#3. Don’t Chase Money: Understand Your Customers & Develop Your Relationships!
You’ll read, all the time, about the importance of developing buyer personas or mapping out your buyer’s journey. Really, the crucial point for these concepts is understanding the mindset and perspective of the customer you’re trying to sell to. Take a look at your existing customer base, talk to your sales reps and any of your staff that’s been more involved with your customers post-purchase. Survey and interview your staff and your customers to determine who the majority of your customers are.
Maybe you’ll find that your customers are not the richest ones on the block, maybe your current niche is really meeting the needs of those who can only afford patch jobs or transitional products. If this is the case, did you expect it to be? Are there any ways you can improve your messaging and communications to really solidify these customer relationships?
If you are trying to reach a different customer base or your findings differ from your expectations – don’t cast a wide net because you think your product or service is sellable to “anyone and everyone”. When you dive in to this belief, your messaging becomes muddled and confusing for the customer and they aren’t sure what to expect. Everyone needs to make money to survive – but if the reality right now is that your customers aren’t your ideal customers – you’ll have to map out how your business is going to reach and best serve your ideal customers in the future. Right now, focus on how to master your service to the customers you already have. Prioritize developing your existing customer relationships so that you can turn your existing customers into loyal, lifelong customers who may someday become your ideal customer. Getting your customer referral and loyalty programs in place can help you to further develop your customer relationships!