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I was at a couple of meetings yesterday with entrepreneurs discussing how to build better profitable customer relationships.

It was interesting to hear about how they go about acquiring new customers and build relationships with existing customers.

What struck me most was the fact that neither business owner had any real strategy in place to acquire new customers and create more profitable customer relationships with their highest value clients.

I asked them about their marketing messaging and call to action.

They hadn’t really considered that properly and just wanted to get something ‘out there’.

The methods used were very haphazard, some flyers here, some emails there, they were essentially trying a few things see if they work.

The problem they had, apart from not building a marketing or acquisition strategy, was they had no tracking mechanism in place to understand what channels or messaging was working and which ones weren’t.

The only way they knew if something was working was if they received a direct referral from a customer they had carried out work for.

But who was that customer and what work did you do for them I asked.

They didn’t know the answer without having to look back through invoices.

They hadn’t been building and deepening profitable customer relationships.

Did you thank the customer for the referral I asked?  Unsurprisingly they hadn’t.

Building Profitable Customer Relationships

Which brings me on to one of the most important factors in the success of a small or medium sized business – building effective relationships with your customers.

One of the biggest challenges facing small business owners is that they are time poor.

Most of their time is spent on the actual running of the business.

It is difficult for them to take a step back and really think about developing that customer relationship.

In many businesses it is the case that 80% of revenue comes from 20% of their profitable customers relationships so building and deepening relationships is paramount.

They are the customers that are loyal, will buy more from you and ill recommend your business to their network of contacts.

Understanding Customers Better

But business owners should also spend time putting a strategy together to build relationships with the other 80% of their customers or at least know a bit more about them.

You want to find out:

  • What services they’ve bought from the business
  • When they last visited/purchased a product
  • Why they aren’t buying from the business any more.

Many of these customers may have recommended your business to their social network so even though they aren’t customers any more they are valuable to your business.

It pays to take the time to build a comprehensive marketing and retention strategy around your existing customers.

If you can influence these profitable customers to stay with your business for longer and to spend more then you won’t be so focused on acquiring new customers.

But, if you want to acquire new customers you must think clearly about the channels and customer segments you are targeting.

You must have clarity on the marketing message, value proposition and call to action you want to communicate.

About The Author

Mark Pettit helps successful entrepreneurs create a vision of their ideal future and then build a plan and path to create it.  By having this clarity, his clients are able to expand their freedom and multiply their revenue and growth.

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