The Lightbulb Business Formula:
6 Easy Steps to Creating Lucrative Long-Term Customers
However, we’re going out with a bang.
We’re going to take a look at one of the most neglected areas in business growth, despite it being the most important by far.
How to Extend the Average Life Cycle of Your Customers.
Here’s an interesting stat provided by Gartner Group.
80% of the future revenue of your business will come from just 20% of your existing customers.
Of course, every business is different, but there’s a lot of truth and logic to absorb in that single broad stat.
Whilst so many businesses are falling over themselves trying desperately to attract new leads and new sales, they’re not spending enough time devoted to the most essential key area of all:
Keeping hold of your already converted leads for far longer and turning them into lucrative long-term customers instead of just watching them drift away forever after one or two sales.
In this final module, I’ll be taking a look at:
Creating a Longer Customer Life Cycle from Day One.
Fixing and Feedback: How Your Own Customers Can Help You.
Making The Funnel Simpler.
How to Create Loyalty Schemes That Work.
Reactivation Email Campaigns.
Wait! Extending the What of the What?
I recently received an email from a subscriber to the Martin Print Blog.
He said that he was enjoying the Lightbulb Business Formula, and that he was particularly looking forward to the final article as he was very keen to extend the life cycle of all his customers.
He also asked if he would need to spend much money on medical equipment or magic potions, and exactly how much longer on average would his customers be expected to live?
A slight case of wrong end of the wrong stick.
We’re not trying to extend the actual lives of your customers here.
That gets very fiddly and expensive. And it doesn’t always work in your favour anyway. Some of these people might live to be 250 years old but still end up shopping with your rivals.
No, we’re talking about extending the cycle of the relationship between the customer and your business.
It’s the final key area of your Growth Analysis Calculator, and it’s the one that will deliver the most lucrative long-term increases to your overall business revenue.
Bearing that in mind, it’s a shame that so many businesses overlook this key area in their desperate scramble to capture the next new customer.
Every happy customer allowed to just idly wander away from your business is a massive wasted opportunity and a potentially huge long-term loss.
We’ve already discussed at length how to capture new customers.
Now let’s try harder to keep the ones we get.
The Bigger Picture:
Creating a Longer Customer Life Cycle from Day 1.
Ok, it’s time get out The Obvious Stick again for just a few sentences here…but one of the best ways of extending a customer’s life cycle is to continue being amazing in every area.
This naturally includes excellent customer service every single step of the way.
Some businesses tend to take the foot off the pedal after they’ve already captured the sale.
They become slightly less helpful, less willing to go the extra mile, generally a bit less interested in the customer as a whole.
It’s as if the business feels that it already went out of it’s way to impress the customer first time round, it can’t be bothered to do it all again.
The big risk with such a lazy approach is that other businesses out there will still be trying hard to capture these same customers with flowers and chocolates and sweet-nothings whilst you’re sat in your pants watching the cricket and grunting at potential distractions.
Memories can be short.
And in most cases, only the last experience really counts for anything at all.
So if five consecutive examples of excellent customer service are followed up by a half-hearted, forgettable, or disappointing experience, the customer may not be so instinctively inclined to come back next time.
Or ever again.
Customer service needs to be amazing every time to keep the next return visit on the cards.
Happy and proud employees are a crucial part of this bigger picture.
If the customer service of your business relies heavily on the performance of your employees, they need to have the pride and motivation to play their part well and help the business succeed.
Employees who feel as if they’re being treated unfairly in some way are unlikely to communicate much enthusiasm to customers or display dedication to the cause.
The challenges faced in handling employee satisfaction would take a whole book in itself (ooh, there’s an idea!) but a good starting point is simply to listen, respect,consider, and act when necessary.
Far too many business owners think they can get away with treating their employees poorly from such a position of power and authority and financial control.
Not a very wise move. You’re just draining away crucial power from your own business.
But looking at the bigger picture goes much deeper than customer service.
It involves carefully crafting every single aspect of your business marketing presence.
If you go snooping round some other business websites, you’ll find so many of them are geared almost entirely towards capturing a new lead.
They will often be crammed with introductory offers exclusively for new customers, or lots of copy about why a new customer should choose their business for the first time.
Of course it’s important to focus some attention on getting new leads and customers.
But surely not all of it…
The problem here is that returning customers won’t find a return visit to be a remotely pleasant or inviting experience.
They may even feel as if they’re being completely ignored.
They already know and understand your business but there’s no warm ‘Welcome Back’ of any kind.
It’s perfectly clear that all the content is geared towards other people.
Hardly a recipe for encouraging return custom.
One good idea here is to implement a Members-only version of your website, so that returning visitors can log-in and view content which is more tailored to their expectations.
On the whole, it’s usually a good strategy to try and separate your marketing into distinctive campaigns for new and existing customers wherever practical.
And we’ll come back to that thought in just a moment.
But essentially, any type of content which is likely to be seen by both new and returning customers needs to remember those returning customers.
Not every inch of space needs to be screaming out to newcomers.
This includes your website, your Social Media profiles, your email marketing, your ads, your brochures, your direct mail , and just about any other form of promotional material produced for your business.
Fixing and Feedback:
How Your Own Customers Can Help You Improve.
Fixing Issues Quickly
Every now and then, the ball gets dropped and a customer gets let down.
Sometimes it’s our own fault. Sometimes it may have been an external problem over which we had no direct control.
Either way, it’s a bit pants for all concerned.
But here’s an encouraging thought which might help us get out of the dumps.
There are times when we can turn a negative into a positive and make the problem work in our favour.
In a sense, this is your business really being put to the test.
How you deal with even a very slight issue can have a big impact on the future lifecycle of this customer.
If you can display that you solve problems quickly and effectively, the customer may actually feel a stronger sense of satisfaction and loyalty than if nothing had gone wrong in the first place.
A deeper channel of communication will also be opened up between your business and the customer as you strive to fix their issues, which can help to forge a healthier long-term connection.
You’re showing that you can do so much more than just sell things to them. You can be trusted to deliver peace of mind, even when things might go wrong.
(Quick tip, though: Don’t go too overboard with this concept and start cocking everything up on purpose just to demonstrate how good you are at fixing problems. That’s way too much hassle and probably quite exhausting.)
DON’T take too long to fix problems or give bigger priority to dealing with new customers and new sales.
One of the best ways you can impress your troubled customers is to fix those issues quickly and effectively.
DON’T try too hard to shirk responsibility at every turn, even when the problem may not have been directly your fault.
By all means, explain the cause of the problem if necessary, but don’t give the impression that you’re desperate to pass the buck.
Most customers probably couldn’t give a chocolate-coated pickled onion whose fault it was. They just want you to take responsibility and fix it.
Getting Feedback from Your Customers
We all love happy customers who always seem to be utterly thrilled with everything we do.
But critical customers and leads are probably some of the most valuable people you’re ever likely to hear from.
Certain problems or flaws or areas for improvement within your service may just slip under the radar unless somebody out there bothers to tell you about them.
So don’t get all grumpy and defensive if a customer tells you about something they feel is wrong.
They could actually be doing you a massive favour.
Unfortunately, these types of people are actually quite a rare breed.
Most people will just slip silently away into the shadows and take their custom elsewhere if they come across something that they’re not entirely happy with.
And you’ll never be aware of the problem which could be affecting tons of other potential leads.
So, don’t just sit back and wait for a complaining customer to tell you all about that minor issue which makes their computer blow up every time they visit your website.
Ask for feedback at every suitable opportunity.
I’m not generally a big fan of businesses that ask you far too quickly to ‘rate their performance’ before you’ve even had a proper chance to open up the packaging or assess their services in any meaningful way.
But if you can be a little more patient, do try to engage with both purchasing customers and non-converting leads to see if they can provide you with any useful comments and evaluations.
Even just a simple message during the After-Sale process or a polite email despatched to a long-term non-purchasing lead can help you to find solutions to problems that you may never even knew existed.
Make the Funnel Simpler for Regular Customers.
One of the biggest obstacles with capturing a first sale from a brand spanking new customer is getting them through the checkout process for the first time.
There will usually be new payment and postage details to collect, perhaps even a new account to register with usernames, passwords, email addresses, and top 5 favourite puddings in reverse alphabetical order.
This is always a risky area because people are busy and generally have much more exciting things to do than jump through all your hoops.
Old Bert, our mostly friendly resident caretaker, is a prime example of the deeply impatient customer.
If he has to spend more than about ten seconds completing an online checkout, he’ll usually just give up on the whole thing and then spend the next forty minutes ranting and raving about how much better life was before the machines took over.
Of course, we should always strive to make the funnel as simple and as short as possible for everyone.
There’s obviously a lot of important information to collect here for new customers without throwing in about a dozen extra ‘steps’ which are going to test the customer’s patience.
But returning customers should ideally be at a very strong advantage here.
You’ve already collected their details once, so all their future experiences with your business should be super-quick and easy.
If you don’t create log-in facilities for Members and you don’t save personal and payment details for future visits, you’re throwing away a massive psychological opportunity to encourage return custom.
Why should a customer want to go through the hassle of signing up from scratch with one of your rivals when they know they’ll have a much quicker and smoother experience coming back to you?
Don’t disappoint your regular customers by making life hard for them every visit and taking away one of the biggest advantages you can deliver to them.
Creating Loyalty Reward Schemes That Work
Loyalty Card Schemes
It’s a strategy you often see in place at coffee shops, bars, restaurants, and bouncy castle repair shops. (Umm, are we sure about that last one?)
Regular customers are given a Loyalty Reward Card which gets ‘stamped’ with every purchase they make until they reach the target number of ‘stamps’ and claim their ultimate reward – a free coffee, free drink, free meal, free bouncy castle repair etc.
However, Loyalty Rewards certainly aren’t just for coffee shops.
Almost any type of business should be able to think of a compelling incentive which is going to get your customers coming back frequently to collect all their stamps and claim their prize.
A free appointment or consultation or visit or session.
A free product or mystery gift.
A tasty discount on their next order.
By stamping your customer’s Loyalty Card every time they make a purchase, you’re actually offering them an extra investment in your business.
Whenever they’re next in need of your products or services, they’ll instinctively dismiss the thought of shopping anywhere else because your business and your loyalty scheme and your frequency bonus will be top of mind.
You’ve just got yourself some totally committed customers.
It’s a smart idea that is so simple to set up.
All you need is a beautiful set of Loyalty Cards with professional artwork, a Custom Self-Inking Stamp, and an idea.
QUICK PROMO ALERT: Martin Print can offer you the complete all-in-one package – including the cards, the stamp, the artwork, and even the idea!
Check out our Loyalty Card + Stamp Combo page for more info or get in touch with me via Live Chat on our website.
VIP Membership Programs
Another idea is to create a Membership Program which rewards your currently loyal customers and encourages them to stay loyal long into the future.
You don’t necessarily need any cards or stamps or temporary tattoos for this strategy – although a stylish Membership Card would be an attractive reminder of the client’s VIP connection to your business.
The whole program can just be implemented online if required.
Martin Print runs a VIP Gold Card Club which our best and most regular customers are invited to join for free.
Our VIP Gold Clients receive an email every month or so which contains a totally exclusive and totally incredible deal which is not made available anywhere else. It’s just a perk of being a VIP client.
On top of this, they automatically receive 2.5% cashback credits on every new print & design order they place. This can be used on their very next order or saved up to accumulate even bigger savings.
We also send them a physical – and very plush – Martin Print VIP Gold Card to keep.
The card has the potential to be shown to friends and associates (come on, who doesn’t like to show off fancy Gold Membership Cards?) and it also helps to keep their VIP status with us top of mind.
I don’t generally like Membership Programs which seem to have been created without any real thought or any real benefit to the client.
But you’ll be in a good position to secure longer-lasting loyalty if your business can offer a genuine advantage to membership such as perks, deals, priority service, cashback credits etc.
Your best customers will appreciate the benefits and feel that they’re getting a superior level of service which is unlikely to be matched by your competitors.
They’re more likely to stick around in your club for a very long time.
Reactivation Email Campaigns
Earlier on in this series of articles, we talked a lot about Email Marketing.
In particular, we discussed the importance of building up a mailing list and creating email campaigns designed to convert a lead into a customer.
But now that your list is growing bigger, it’s time to get a little bit smarter and think about creating campaigns tailored to specific types of leads and customer.
So we could potentially create completely separate email campaigns for;
All freshly-captured leads.
Leads who never converted.
Regular loyal customers.
Previously loyal customers who haven’t ordered for a while.
It’s the latter breed of customers that concerns us now.
These potentially long-term customers have gone quiet for some reason, and we need to extend their life-cycle by re-activating their interest.
You probably receive a lot of Reactivation Emails in your own Inbox.
If you once bought a Seashell Letter Rack from a company in 1997 but never felt the need to buy anything from them since, they may well send you occasional emails along the lines of “We Miss You….”.
Please don’t include those three words in your own Reactivation Email, by the way!
So many corporate companies use the “We Miss You” approach so often that it’s become a very tired cliché and I’m sure most of those emails are deleted without ever being viewed.
Let’s try and be a little more creative….
So what exactly do you include in a Reactivation Email?
It could be just a very simple and basic email which reaches out to the customer and offers them help with anything they may need.
A reminder that you exist and a quick prompt to get them thinking again about the unique benefits of your business.
You could use this as your suitable opportunity to ask for feedback and enquire if you’ve done anything wrong.
This is a useful chance to discover if there was a specific reason why the customer has gone quiet and fix up any potential issues.
Or you could present them with an exclusively crafted special offer or discount to try and tempt the customer back into the fold with something of genuine value.
Get them excited about your business again with a deal that’s too good to turn down.
The general idea is that you’re not just lumping these customers in with your catch-all mass marketing.
You’re recognising that these are previously happy customers who appear to be in danger of drifting away forever, and you’re now seeking to rescue the situation with specific tailored content.
One quick side-note about the idea of offering a special discount or deal here;
Some business owners feel unhappy about doing this, as they feel that they’re rewarding customers who’ve gone quiet instead of rewarding the ones who are still fiercely loyal and who deserve it more.
Point taken if these are the only deals you intend to offer… but the best approach is to offer different types of deals to every type of customer.
I would be more likely to get annoyed by a corporate business that blatantly promotes amazing deals for new customers only whilst treating existing customers as if they barely exist.
By all means, promote introductory deals, dish out exclusive discounts to quiet clients, but make it very clear that you also offer even bigger perks and benefits to good regular customers with your Loyalty Reward schemes or VIP Membership programs.
Everyone should be rewarded in some way, including those loyal customers that you want to stick around for years to come.
Don’t Be A Stranger!
A customer doesn’t view a business in quite the same way they as they view a family member or a close friend.
They’re not very likely to phone you up out of the blue just to ask if your slightly swollen toe is feeling any better since you last spoke.
(Actually, that’s not always true. Old Bert regularly phones up the Sweet Pastry Shop to ask them what they’re watching on the TV tonight. That’s just because he’s too tight-fisted to buy a proper TV Guide though.)
Here’s the main point I’m trying to make;
Even if you run the most amazing business in the universe, you can still be temporarily forgotten.
Perhaps the customer picked up a cheap deal elsewhere, or one of your competitors was highly recommended to them.
Perhaps they just fancied shopping around for their next purchase and they’ve ended up forging a new relationship with another business.
Perhaps they were abducted by aliens, and all memories of your business have been surgically removed from their brain. (Sounds unlikely, but my mate Bob swears that this happens to his customers all the bloody time.)
Or, perhaps more likely, they’ve just forgotten about you because you weren’t doing enough to keep your business top of mind.
You can’t just rely on good memories to help bring customers back to your website or your store.
You need to maintain regular communications through a diverse mix of channels to continually remind people why you are the best in the business.
Throughout this Lightbulb Business Formula, we’ve discussed at length many of the strategies which can help you to engage with your leads and customers.
Regular Emails and Newsletters.
Frequent posts on Social Media platforms such as Facebook.
Regular Blog articles.
Printed promotional materials such as new Leaflets and Brochures or surprise Promo Gifts in the post.
These methods can all be used to keep your customers up to date with new products, services and deals, keep them informed with genuinely useful tips and insightful content which reinforces your expertise in your field, and keep them entertained with fun and memorable stuff presented under your business name.
Too many businesses let things drift too early on in the customer life cycle, and then wonder why their clients have wandered away.
The winning strategy is to keep up with all these engagement channels and keep your customers in the long-term loop.
The Final Curtain…
I hope you’ve learned at least one or two or 179 useful things from this email mini-course.
I’m sorry we never quite got round to those recipes for Barbecued Squid Salad or Spicy Lentil Casserole that I was waffling on about at the beginning .
(We had to abandon that idea after Old Bert got food poisoning during the first few experiments in the kitchen.)
But please do let me know your thoughts in the comments below, take a tour of our website, or get in touch with me by Live Chat or Facebook if you’d like any further info or a chat about anything at all we’ve discussed.
Thanks for listening!