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Not Normal Marketing Tips

November 2006: Don't Leave Money on the Table
by Stephen Ghelerter

Leaving money on the table usually refers to not charging enough for your goods and services. But there is another way you leave money on the table: By not getting your customers to come back.

It is pretty well established that your best prospects are your current customers, so don't neglect them.

There are two things you must do to bring your customers back:

  1. Give them a reason to use you again.

  2. Make it easy for them to find you and purchase from you.

Give Them A Reason to Return

You must serve your customers well. They need to be happy with their experience with you and want to return. Though even marginal satisfaction sometimes will bring them back, your goal should be to be their #1 choice, not merely the company they used last time.

When a customer has a bad experience with a vendor, a valuable source of sales could be unnecessarily lost. Attend to unhappy customers, and try to make things right. If they do leave you, don't burn any bridges. They may have a bad experience with your competitor and want to give you another chance some day.

Make It Easy for Them to Find You

This could mean a magnet on a refrigerator, a conspicuous ad in the yellow pages, and easy to remember phone number (like 1-800-FLOWERS), or a catchy company name. If you provide some type of service, it could mean a label applied to their hot water heater, thermostat, or electrical panel box.

It could also mean keeping in touch with them, either by e-mail, via USPS, or some regular advertising, like an ad every Saturday in your local newspaper. Contact them regularly. Remind them why they want to return. You may want to also give them incentives to return: Coupons, exclusive offers, etc. 

Whom did you call the last time you needed an electrician or plumber. Was it the guy you used last, or the guy who had an ad in your local shopper that week? If it was the latter, would you have called your former vendor if their phone number had been handy?

Some of the forms we sell are also sold by other companies. We get orders from time to time from users who had purchased a form we sell from one of our competitors. They call us because they don't know whom they purchased them from last time and they found us on the Internet.

Make It Easy to Do Business with You

Don't make it an ordeal for them to return and purchase. If you are a retail store, be easy to get to, have ample parking, have enough sales people and knowledgeable sales people.

I avoid stores that frequently have hassles at the check out line, like price checks. I don't like shopping at stores that make it difficult to get help from a sales person. I don't like calling companies that have complicated phone menu systems, or who leave me holding for a long time.

I once purchased a produce item from a grocery store. When a got home, I saw that it was out of date. I returned that evening and asked for a refund. I was told that the manager had left for the day and there was no one to approve the refund. (I was offered an exchange, but I had already made dinner and didn't need that ingredient anymore.) That chain of stores is currently in Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It was not easy doing business with them.

I was at a discount store once and got in a checkout line where there was only one person ahead of me, and he only had three items. Seemed like a safe choice at the time. All three items were on sale, and they all scanned at the regular price. The customer and the cashier had to go through many pages of the store's sale flyer to find those three items and ring them up at the right price. That chain of stores is now out of business. It was not easy doing business with them either.

Get That Money Off the Table

Don't leave money on the table because a customer has an unpleasant experience with your company and it goes unresolved.

Don't leave money on the table because your customer forgot whom they have been using.

Don't leave money on the table because it is easier for your customer to find your competitor's phone number than yours.

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