What are the best ways to turn an existing one-time client into a repeat client?

Pack Protocols LLC started out as a Packaging Engineering Consultancy back in 2013. As we began to gain clients, it was noticeable after work was completed, the majority of our clients did not reach out for future work. This outcome could be due to multiple reasons. What are the best ways to turn an existing one-time client into a repeat client?

This question was asked by Mike Willard of Pack Protocols LLC.

I know Mike pretty well and the type of business he runs. Luckily, I know enough about his business where I think I can offer good insight.

Most know that trying to keep a business alive off new clients alone isn’t a great idea. Yet, a lot of us spend most of our time and energy trying to acquire new customers. This is a bad habit that should be broken. So, let’s get into how to keep your customers coming back.

1. Email Marketing – But Be Smart

This is probably the biggest mistake I made when I first started out. I didn’t really do any email marketing.

Email marketing (or just having a well-nurtured email list) can really do wonders for your business.

But you have to really tailor it to the business you’re in. For some businesses, it makes a lot of sense to send out text-only (absolutely no styling) personalized emails to a list – just so it looks like the recipients are not on a typical looking newsletter. For most people, an email packaged in a traditional email marketing “wrapper” is just junk mail they don’t need to be bothered by.

Everyone you do business with, network with, come in contact with can theoretically be put on your email marketing list. The trick is to ask for permission first. When it makes sense, ask them, “Can I email you from time to time with ideas and tips that I think will help you?” This will guarantee a much higher sign-up rate compare to asking something like: “Would you like to sign up for our newsletter?”

“Meh.” Right?

So what do you email them?

  • Be a resource – A lot of your customers may need to comply with regulations, or need to know about new materials that will lower costs, save shipments from damage etc. Be the expert in this area and make sure your customers are well informed. Additionally, when they see that you’re the expert, they’ll most likely reach out to you when they need you.
  • Make sure you have a call-to-action – In your email, make it clear somewhere that they can reach out to you at any time for suggestions, advice, etc. Be there to help them. Keeping the communication going is a great way to keep business going.
  • Use your emails as blog posts – If you’re going to take the time to craft these resourceful emails, you might as well put them on your company blog to pick up some search engine traffic. Hell, these two activities might be the only marketing you need to do in the long-run.

Finally, you probably don’t want to make this a daily email campaign. Think about what frequency is just right not to annoy your list, but still be useful to stir up business.

2. Reach Out to Old Clients

Make it a habit to get on the phone and talk to X number of past clients every day (or every week). A lot of business is about relationships. Make sure you’re keeping up with them, send them a bottle of wine during the Holidays, send birthday cards etc.

3. Hire a Part-Time Relationship Manager

There will always be someone better than you at talking to people and making customers feel warm and welcomed. Consider hiring a part-time sales person one day a week. Be sure to give them a good 6 weeks to make some head-way though. Sometimes the right “phone magician” can really stir up business. And again, this doesn’t it has to be dialing for dollars for new business – just nurturing your customer base.

4. Exit Interviews

As soon as you’re done with a project with a client (or when you feel the timing would be right), ask them to answer a few questions. Tell them the idea is to, “help improve our business and our customer experience.” Be very direct and don’t be afraid to ask questions where you might not like the answers. Here’s a basic rundown of questions:

  • How was your overall experience with our company?
  • What did you like about it?
  • What could be improved?
  • Did you find our pricing reasonable?

This data is extremely valuable and is really the only way to complete your business improvement loop. Without this information, you’re basically steering blindly.

5. Focus on Branding and Business Design

Your job as the business owner is really to improve the design of your business and how it operates. If you’re doing a lot of the technical work, you’re making a cardinal mistake when it comes to operating a business. Please read this post!

Additionally, always focus on branding. I wrote a lengthy post about branding here. It’s not just your logo. It’s the entire experience your customers receive when they interact with your brand. From how the phone is answered, to how invoices look, to how kick-ass you appear everywhere your customers come in contact with your brand. Pssst: it’s the biggest growth hack!

Bonus: Video Drop Test Fails

If you ever have the time, film palette tests. There may be catastrophic failures that you’ll get on video. This type of video content can be addictive for people to watch. All it takes is to upload it to your YouTube brand channel. Make sure your descriptions are filled out so people know what your company does and how to reach you. This can provide a fun / viral aspect to your industry.

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