Find New Customers, But Keep the Old

Most marketing efforts are aimed at getting new customers. What are you doing to keep the customers you already have?

A song from my childhood contained the advice, “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.” The same can be said of customers. Most marketing efforts are aimed at getting new customers. What are you doing to keep the customers you already have?

Banks are actively encouraging customers to sign up for their online bill paying services. Many banks charge a monthly fee, but others offer the service free because they realize that customers who use online bill paying are less likely to change banks. Once you have set up all of the information for your payments, it is a hassle to move to another bank and do it all over again.

Making it inconvenient for customers to leave is one way to keep them. However, here are some more positive ways to keep customers loyal to you:

Reward frequent customers. Offer a discount or free item for a certain number or volume of purchases. The airlines may have started this with frequent flier miles, but now it seems that everyone from the local doughnut shop to credit card issuers to parking lots have followed with their own programs.

Offer a membership or other special program. You might make it available only to customers whose purchases total more than a set amount, or even charge them to participate. has introduced Amazon Prime™, where for an annual fee customers get free two-day shipping on unlimited orders, or overnight shipping for $3.99 per item. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos says that, “We expect Amazon Prime to be expensive for in the short term. In the long term, we hope to earn even more of your business, which will make it good for us, too.” In effect, customers are pre-paying shipping costs. Once they have done that, the idea is that they will place more orders with and fewer with other online retailers.

Hold customer-only events, such as a party, sale or outing. These events make customers feel special and show that they are appreciated.

Make customers feel valued by asking for their opinions. How can you improve your product or service? Are your hours convenient? Then, when you make changes, let them know it was because of feedback from customers.

Get personal. Ask for customers’ birth dates, and send a card to acknowledge them on their special days. Keep track of past purchases in order to make recommendations of other products they might enjoy. Let them know when something new is available.

Say thank you. It’s a simple thing, but it goes a long way. Send a brief handwritten note thanking them for their business. Keep a supply of post cards or note cards handy, and dash off at least a few every week to new or long-time customers.

It is usually less expensive to keep customers than to find new ones. Although it is always important to keep looking for new customers, keeping the ones you have gives your business stability over the long term.

As the Idea Lady, Cathy Stucker helps entrepreneurs and professionals attract customers and make themselves famous. Get free marketing tips at

Posted on: April 4, 2012, by :