Client Retention: The Case for Customer Engagement

Commercial printing has always had a sales-focused culture. When it comes to growing their businesses, printers have always invested heavily in sales training focused on prospecting and closing techniques. While these skills are important, the ability to retain existing clients has a much greater impact on your ability to grow sales.

All growth begins with client retention.  As former Allegra Chairman Carl Gerhardt noted, printers need to avoid wasting time and money on complex marketing plans until they have a solid customer-retention plan in place.

Studies show that most print providers need to add 25% new customers every year just to maintain current sales levels. No wonder growth can be so difficult. It’s hard to move the boat forward when it’s leaking out the sides! If you are not proactive about customer retention, most acquisition efforts will help you tread water, but not actually grow your sales.

Here are some additional statistics to ponder:

  • Acquiring new clients costs 5x more than retaining existing ones.
  • 68% of customers leave because they think you are indifferent to them.
  • A 5% increase in customer retention can increase profits by 75%. (1)
  • Repeat customers spend 33% more than new customers. (2)
  • 80% of companies believe they deliver a superior customer experience, but only 8% of their customers agree. (3)

When customers leave, so does your reputation. Satisfied customers refer business. Former customers rarely do.

Existing customers need to know they are working with a stable, trustworthy business that understands their needs. Unfortunately, printers are often so busy pursuing new customers that they forget about their existing ones. As a result, their customers become restless and the competition is happy to pick them off. Don’t let this happen.

Here are 7 ideas for retaining your customers and building customer loyalty:

  1. Stay engaged, whether you are actively selling them something or not.

Maintain contact electronically, in print, and in person. The most effective way to lose customers is to lose touch with them. Communicate, communicate, communicate!

  1. Deliver content that provides real value to them.

Identify their pain points and offer solutions. Provide helpful, thought leadership. Not only will this strengthen your relationship and promote you as a trusted resource, but it will also differentiate you from your competition—most of which is not communicating with high-value content.

  1. Be multichannel.

Use print, email, website, social media.  Content is king. It’s what you will be judged on relative to what your competitors are doing.

A note on website content: 67% of potential customers seek product and services information online first, and 81% of B2B decision makers use online communities and blogs to help make purchasing decisions. (4) Your website isn’t the only one they’ll visit. Potential customers will visit another three to five sites beyond yours.  Your website content (blog, resources, company info) has to be great. It must stand head and shoulders above the competition.

  1. Be willing to admit mistakes.

Providing a great product and services does not guarantee that customers will stick around. It merely fulfills the customers’ minimum expectations—one which the competition also promises them. But delivering a bad customer experience doesn’t guarantee customer defection, either. If you resolve a complaint quickly, 9 out of 10 customers will do business with you again.

Almost 50% of people are less inhibited about complaining once they get online, so consider using email and landing pages for customer satisfaction follow-ups after every job. Everybody messes up once in awhile, but being caring and proactive can help turn a negative customer experience into an opportunity to build an even stronger customer relationship.

  1. Don’t forget the truly personal side of engagement, too.

Face-to-face interaction can’t be beat.  Consider adding on- or off-site educational events, quick “lunch and learns” in group settings or even one-on-one, and customer appreciation events. If you can’t coordinate everything in-house, consider using outside help.

  1. Send letters and thank you notes.

Everyone sends a holiday card, so reach out on birthdays, special events, and anniversaries (including those of major achievements).

  1. Connect on LinkedIn and leverage updates and published posts to promote thought leadership and stay top of mind.

In the end, it all boils down to this: Are you doing things that other providers are not? If they are, are you doing them better? Does your direct mail (newsletters, postcards) provide more value? Does the design stand out rather than looking canned? Is it easy to reach you, particularly from a mobile device?  Do you make it easy to do business with you, such as providing contact information on email signatures, responsive website design, and online resources such as available envelope sizes, conversion charts, postal information? What materials do you leave behind when you visit a client or prospect? We inherently don’t trust sales literature—Millennials in particular—so utilize customer-focused communications.

It cannot be said enough. Utilize the time in between delivering jobs to communicate. You will effectively stand apart from your competitors and strengthen your position as a trusted provider of the services you offer.

 

(1)www.bain.com  (2) Laura Lake, (3) Bain & Company from Harvard Management Update. (4) 2016 Marketing Think./ Deborah Corn.

Growing Print Sales in 2018

Happy New Year! We are almost ten days into the new year. What changes have you instituted to increase sales effectiveness and grow your business?

  • Companies that had double-digit growth in the last year supported their sales staff with printed and digital communications. (InfoTrends Reports)
  • Consistency is king with marketing initiatives. Brand exposure plus brand positioning equals competitive advantage.
  • All growth begins with retention. Data indicates that 60% of customer loss is due to lack of communications.

“We started with Great Reach one year ago, and the response from our customers and prospect has been overwhelming. One customer called and wanted to know about “drip marketing” that was in a newsletter three months ago. Great Reach is our marketing department.”

If you would like info regarding our turn-key, exclusive marketing solutions for printers and mailers, please reply to this email or visit us on the web. We make marketing easy, affordable and highly effective.

Patrick T. Whelan
pat@greatreachinc.com
Office 978-332-5555 Cell 617-513-2067

P.S. Check out my latest featured article in Printing News: http://www.printingnews.com/article/12382492/marketing-matters-10-marketing-ideas-for-printers

3 Marketing Ideas for the Fall Season

1. Sell your customers on the role print plays in an effective marketing strategy. This article in Forbes will help: “The Art Of The Leave-Behind.”

2. Print companies that had double-digit growth last year supported their sales efforts with marketing collateral (Infotrends). Content is king. Educational, engaging, thought leadership promotes credibility and sticks around. Sales literature does neither.

3. Sell client retention programs. Why?

  • They o­ffer a truly unique selling proposition.
  • Program selling rather than job selling
  • A wealth of content to support retention over acquisition spend.
  • Scalable program regarding frequency, channels, and media.
  • No learning curve for sales staff.

It’s easier to sell a retention program than other traditional marketing programs. More details in this September Printing News article. I also offer a program to help with this. Happy to provide a free consultation.

4 Quick Marketing Tips to Grow Sales

I want to tell you about four quick tips I recently shared with my clients. The first is a key take away from research produced by InfoTrends (Lisa Cross and Kate Dunn) that identified best practices from print providers that experienced double-digit sales growth in the past 12 months.

“While engaging potential customers in person is essential, it is also important to support those efforts with printed and digital communications to create a productive sales force.” (Source link)

Here are some interesting statistics regarding website content:

– Blog content has a life expectancy of 2 years, which is a longer shelf life than all other forms of virtual content. YouTube and LinkedIn are 20 days and 24 hours, respectively.

– 81% of B2B decision makers use online communities and blogs to help make purchasing decisions. (Source: 2016 Marketing Think)

– 67% of prospective customers check you out online first. Does your site promote you as a thought leader and as a credible resource for your services?

Let’s talk about how blog content can help you gain and retain customers!

Patrick Whelan
pat@greatreachinc.com
978-332-5555

5 Things to Consider Halfway Through 2017

Here are 5 things to consider halfway through 2017. Summer is a great time to plan for growth!

• Millennials love direct mail, as do others. Are you using it as part of your marketing communications?

• Existing customers cost less (retention vs. acquisition) and spend more. A 5% increase in retention can lead to a 75% increase in profitability. Communicate often and effectively.

• When customers leave, so does your reputation. Think about referred business. How many come from existing customers compared to former ones?

• Promotional materials need to be replaced with problem-solving, goal oriented, and trust building communications. It’s how you stand out from other service providers.

• Website content matters! Thank you, Deborah Corn, for sharing the following statistic: 81% of B2B decision makers use online communities and blogs to help make purchasing decisions. (Source: 2016 Marketing Think).

We offer turn-key, exclusive marketing communications programs for printers and direct mail companies. Contact me if you would like some info and samples of how we can help you grow.

Patrick Whelan
pat@greatreachinc.com
978-332-5555

Tips for Improving Your Customer Communications

My colleague, Matt Hunt, recently attended the Email Innovations Summit. It featured a number of dynamic speakers from well known companies to small startups talking about their experiences with email marketing and customer communications. Email marketing can be a powerful sales tools but only if done right.

He put together a short list of top takeaways, which includes tips on personalization, data sources, relevance, and automation. A few simple adjustments to your campaigns might be the ticket to getting more responses and providing relevant communications and information to your customers.

If you would like to receive this free, quick read report, simply send me an email I will be happy to send it to you.

Patrick T. Whelan, President
pat@greatreachinc.com
978-332-5555