How are you communicating to customers?

Everyone is looking to grow current number of customers, but it’s important to look at how you’re communicating with them,  if you’re communicating to them at all.

mailboxIf you aren’t communicating with customers on an ongoing basis how can you expect to grow your business, especially during economic times like this?

To reach potential new customers you really have to sit down and define who your customer is.  Where do they get their news and information?  What do they do?  What are they looking for?  What do you have to offer them?  Answer these questions and you can begin to understand what you need to say and then when, where and how you need to say it.

Options for communicating to new customers include direct mail (with a great offer for trial or discount), public relations and advertising.  You can even create a newsletter (Constant Contact is an affordable option) and purchase an email list through local vendors.  Whatever you do make sure that your words will attract the customer to you.  Most first time purchases or trials come from making a strong offer, coupon or having a sale.  (These promotions are particularly attractive to people these days).

Finally, remember that it’s just as important to maintain communications with existing customers as it is to attract new ones.  They’ve already tried your business and, hopefully, had an extremely positive experience and will return again and again.  While advertising and PR will make them feel good about using your business, I suggest asking current customers for their email address, or start getting it when they start business with you, and create a newsletter specifically for them.  Today, email newsletters can be personalized and you can afford to have two with different messages.

Just make sure that you aren’t SPAMMING customers with too many communications in a month, or even a week.  Keep them timely with valuable information and offers otherwise people will opt out of the email list by unsubscribing.  Direct Mail services are specifically designed to deliver on a quarterly basis to insure you aren’t “over doing it.”

Share your advice on communicating with customers.  What’s been your greatest success?

Jennifer Fortney, Cascade Communications

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Comments
2 Responses to “How are you communicating to customers?”
  1. desuter says:

    We have been using Constant Contact to send twice-monthly newsletters to our list. Each newsletter has one article. We are about to send a “campaign” of three marketing emails to invite our list to a teleconferencing course that begins early Feb. Then we’ll likely go back to 2x/mo.

    I get way more frequent emails from many others whose lists I’m on. Say 2-3 times per week. I read what I can/want, and ignore the rest. Because I have found value in what they’ve sent in the past, I don’t find it annoying unless it gets out of control — one marketer was sending 2-4 PER DAY, under different names, so I eventually unsubscribed. That’s just junking up my inbox!

    I did read one article recently (forget where?) that suggested MORE messages when someone first signs up. The writer said people lose interest over time, so you’re most likely to get the sale when they first find your site. What do you think of that assertion? Dorothy

  2. smallbizexperts says:

    Dorothy,
    Thanks for your comments. It sounds like you have a great handle on how to utilize your email distribution list in a responsible manner, and one that gets a positive reaction. Most importantly you’re using it to announce something of value to individuals. People during economic times like this may feel that they need to bombard people with emails to drive interest and sales, but, just like you, it can lead to quick opt-out of distribution lists and loss of customers over a period of time. That’s certainly something no one can ever afford to do, especially because it can lead to a negative perception of a company that can last, as well as be communicated through circles, driving even more people away from a business. It’s like the power of two positive forces (or negative) pushing each other away. You may mean well, but you don’t want to create resistance.

    I agree that when you initially have people sign up to receive information from about your business that it’s key to start a behavioral pattern, however, perception can switch quite quickly when a prospective or current customer feels that they are being bombarded right off the bat. As a marketing professional, I believe that the number of emails and communications you engage in isn’t as important as the message you’re delivering. If you are able to communicate something powerful, create need and encourage people to take action in one communication that’s what will drive awareness and sales immediately. If you are not seeing the return you desire than chances are that you need to refine your communication style – words, images and examples of positive results – to become more meaningful to your audience. It’s also important to remember that, like anything, not everyone needs your business the second they receive communications from you, but if they like what they see, feel an emotional need and compelled to take action at some point, then they’ll hang on to it and make a point to engage your business when they are ready.

    I look forward to hear how your teleconference goes in February and what kind of return you receive from your email campaign.

    Best,
    Jennifer

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