Dec 162011
 

Getting the customer is just stage one; now you need to really make them love you

If you want to build a successful business you need to build your customer base.  Building a customer base is always easier, better and cheaper if you are able to keep the customers you have rather than lose them after every purchase and have to start again.  Ideally, the longer you keep a customer the higher they will move up your relationship ladder.  Here’s how the ladder works.


Prospect

This is someone who isn’t even buying from you yet; they are just someone who you are targeting your marketing at in the hope they will become one.

Customer

This is a prospect who liked your marketing and has bought from you at least once and ideally on a few occasions.  At this stage the relationship is still very casual.

Client

A client is a customer who is moving up the ladder by becoming a regular user of your service or buying from you on a regular basis.  You’re getting to know each other and build a proper relationship.

Supporter

This is an important stage in the process because this is where the strength of the relationship really starts to make a difference for you.  A supporter is happy to be associated with you publicly and so in a passive sense starts to become part of your marketing.

Advocate

At this stage the supporter becomes an active part of your marketing – they are out there talking to their contacts and actively recommending your services – they are referring you to their friends and you can build a whole strategy around the referral process.  The great thing about this is the fact that the recommend is via a trusted third party so someone hearing the message is more likely to believe it.

Partner

The final stage is the process and the top of the ladder.  This is where you and the other party see mutual advantage in working together. This step may not work for every business but when it does it can bring real benefits.

So what?

This is all nice to know stuff but so what?  Well, as part of your marketing and company strategy you should be looking at how you can continually be moving people up the relationship ladder.  If you’re running your business properly you should have strategies in place at each level to strengthen the bond.  At the bottom it might be something simple like a clip card you get in a coffee shop – get the card clipped 3 times and get a 4th cup free.  As customers move up the ladder things get a little more mature and you might, for example, extend their line of credit from 1 month to 3.

This is not a quick win strategy but one that takes time but, like all things that take time, it will bring you massive rewards if followed through.