Typically the easiest and most cost effective way to increase new business is to target your existing customers, encouraging repeat and referral business.
A critical element of this is regular and effective communication.
Managed carefully, email offers significant opportunity in this respect. Consider using content of an interesting and valuable nature, such as business hints and tips, which will be retained and referenced. This approach can be automated using online email marketing software, also known as autoresponder technology - Google “autoresponder” for a list of low cost and free online providers. Examples include dotMailer, Eshot, AWeber and MailChimp. You will also need to ensure that you are meeting current “spam” regulations and best practice, including allowing customers to unsubscribe from email communication.
So, given what I've just said, can you see why I'm not a great lover of newsletters? Typically a newsletter will be about what's happening to your business. Put yourself in the customers’ shoes - is that sort of content likely to interest them significantly or be seen as valuable material? OK, a couple of recent customer case studies will work well but the rest of the content is of less value. Moreover, by its nature, a newsletter is time specific. Better to come up with material that can be used over and over again for new contacts - this is when autoresponders will really come into their own.
It also follows that your material should not be “salesey”. Remember we need this type of communication to be regular. Keep thrusting sales material down customers’ throats and they are bound to unsubscribe. The only rider to this is where you are known as offering regular product discounts or special deals. In these circumstances, customers will often be looking forward to your correspondence in the knowledge that a potential deal could be available.
No, try to think of material that will really be of interest. Such as new technology in your industry that will produce different products or trends for future customers’ needs. Or perhaps forthcoming changes in legislation that will become significant. What you are looking for is correspondence that will make sure your customers think of you first when considering your types of products or services. Most of your competitors will be taking the typical approach of assuming that, once someone buys, they’ll always come back for the same or more. Not so – more often than not, the first call will be to the supplier who last made contact with them. So make sure you are the one making the regular contact.
One other idea. Sending out infrequent customer questionnaires for feedback can represent an effective form of communication. Managed correctly, they can show that you care about customers’ needs and want to ensure that you are satisfying them. Just one word of warning though – make sure that you are willing to accept critical responses. I remember responding to a furniture removals company with negative feedback about the size of van provided (needed multiple trips). The MD was on the phone to me next day, arguing the point, concluding that he NEVER got negative feedback and he wouldn’t want me as a client again either. Clearly their feedback process was there for ticking the box in their ISO 9000 quality system – and not actually taking on board the feedback to improve their business.