Simple Marketing Part 6: Know Your Customers

21 05 2008

Well who hasn’t said that it’s important to know your customers! But as with all information the true value comes when you collect the correct information and use it to your advantage.

What data to gather and use will depend on your business, a manufacturing business will have different requirements to say a restaurant or a hotel. But regardless of the business itself, by having a formal customer data gathering process will help to ensure you collect useful information from your customers.

Most importantly any data you gather has to be collected in accordance with the Data Protection Act. This isn’t as daunting as it sounds and to help you take a look at  http://www.ico.gov.uk.

A useful starting point is to start breaking your customers down into different groups. For example:

  • Regular customers
  • Infrequent customers
  • New customers
  • One off customers but no recent purchase
  • Recent enquiries but no sale
  • Old enquiries

Immediately you have a “hit list” of your customers, and from here it is possible to tailor marketing messages and promotions for each group.

This will depend on having a well managed and up-to-date database and ideally you will also be in a position to undertake highly cost effective eMail marketing to these different groups.

The types of messages will be highly dependent on your business and it is very hard to give a general one size fits all guide ande the nature of the message will depend on your margins.

But your objective should be to ensure that your regular customers are cherished – you want to keep their buisness and even gain more from them. This group should also be asked as to why the use your business, this will help to define your marketing messages.

Where possible you should try and find out why you have infrequent customers. Are they using you as a distress supplier when their regular one can’t deliver? And at the same time you can think about ways to convert them to becoming a regular customer. Ask yourself what would it take to achieve this? Again you can build campaigns to support this.

For new customers care needs to be taken not to scare them away with a barrage of marketing messages, but at the same time try to find out why they have chosen your business and think of ways that will encourage them to come back to you.

The other groups are colder prospects. Chasing up recent enquiries would make good sense and if they have decided not to use your business do find out why. This may well be for a simple reason that you can simply correct. Remember if you don’t ask you won’t know!

There are a number of ways you can ask questions and one of the simplest and most cost and time effective will be through eMail. If you don’t routinely collect eMail addresses from your customers and potential customers you should make provision to do so (in accordance with the DPA) as soon as possible.

Take time to review your customer database, it literally is a potential goldmine for your business.

Also take time to really think about what information it would help your business to gather from your customers and then start to segment your customer base and explore the opportunities each different group can offer you.

This is a very top line introduction to Customer Relationship Management, but as marketing tool I can not stress enough just how important this discipline is for any business, in any sector and of any size. Used effectively it can save you money, help retain customers, help gain more business and provide you with a clear knowledge of what your customers think of your business, its products and services.

 

 

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