Think about your current customers before attracting new ones

| August 4, 2017

Are you spending time and money attracting new customers when you could be investing your precious resource on current customers and ensuring their experiences are worth their return and recommendation? Strategic marketer Rachel Bevans shares her thoughts.

When faced with the challenge of ‘how do I increase revenue?’, many businesses turn immediately to spending their time and money on attracting new customers.

Before doing this, take a closer look at your current business and consider the following potential problems and possible solutions. These are by no means definitive and not all will be ‘right’ for your business. And we’d recommend that you review whether your current customers are the right customers for your future business.

1. Habitual repeat customers don’t know what else you offer


Repeat customers often return to one part of the store or website, branch or business, talk to the people and buy the products and services they know. Much to your dismay, they don’t try new things, they don’t explore the store or website, and they don’t seek out different knowledge.


• Encourage them to try something new
• Give them a free trial
• Cross-promotion brochure with every sale
• Introduce them to another person in your business

2. Long term customers don’t think to recommend you


When your business becomes a routine part of customers’ lives, you can become a utility, you’re not top of mind when people ask for recommendations and they don’t think about recommending you pro-actively.


• Encourage them to bring a friend
• Establish a more formal referral scheme that offers benefits to you and the referred customer
• Another way to think about it is to make their every experience like their first, surprise and delight them every time they connect with you

3. Your current experience doesn’t encourage repeat purchase or referral


Slow service times; waiting time in the queue at the store or on the phone; a clunky online ordering process; couriers that don’t turn up when its convenient; rude, unhelpful, untrained employees, high employee turnover and not enough employees. Any and all of these could be preventing your current customers from referring you to others or first time customers from returning. Worst case, they complain on social media. Best case, they return as passive customers.

In this case, you’re not ready for new customers. If you don’t have the capability and capacity to deliver your brand promise to your existing customers, you don’t have the capability or capacity to deliver to new customers. [Unless, by chance, what’s not working for your current customers actually works for another group of more profitable customers.]


• Fix your employer brand and employee value proposition, including training and development, salary and benefits, leadership and culture and turn your employees into fully fledged brand advocates.
• Obtain customer feedback on what is working and what is not.
• Review the customer journey, identify key pain points, fix the problems and start thinking about what you can do to make the experience even better – rule of thumb is fix the basics before adding value.

4. Do you know who your current customers are?


It may sound obvious, but many businesses don’t really know who their customers are. Or perhaps different parts of the business have a different view. There are many benefits for having one view on who your core customers are.


By gathering information on your customers – whether through sales data, loyalty programme, membership or simply email subscription – you can build an on-going dialogue with them that raises you above habit and utility status. Enabling you to offer desirable content, educate them further about your business and cross-promote your products and services to them.

Think of your customers in 3 layers:
1) Your aspirational target – who is the whole business/brand talking to, what are their aligned values, identify their common insight and problem that the business/brand can solve different, better, special to anyone else
2) Customer profiles – who are the key customer segments, what do they look like, what do they need and define the value proposition for each segment
3) Individual customer identities – adding data to the individual profiles in terms of their decision-making and purchase behaviour, engagement with the brand so you can personalise your offer, communications and experiences to the individual

Once you’ve decided whether you’re servicing your current customers and are ready to grow, having this perspective can making attracting more of the same customers an easier task; or innovate new products and services to offer.

Are your current customers the right customers?

There is one question you need to ask before investing money on your current customers. Are they the right customers?

If you know who your customers are but your revenue challenges won’t be solved by making them happier, attracting more of their business or attracting more of their sort, then perhaps you need to look elsewhere. Then you really need to ask where does your future business lie and what do those customers look like, their values, needs and pain points – and reframe your brand, employer brand, customer experience and marketing accordingly.

Rachel Bevans

Rachel Bevans is a strategic marketer and business director with over 23 years’ experience helping organisations become brand-driven, customer-centric and employee-engaged. Rachel founded The Healthy Brand Company in 2012 to unite her brand experience, passion for health and fitness and curiosity about what motivates people.