We, my partner and I, like to buy from small independent businesses. Small items, large items doesn't really matter - 9 times out of 10 we feel we are treated as a valued customer, not a number like so often happens when you buy from big stores.
Like last year when we bought 2 sofa's from a befriended Interior Design business. We received advice on what was available for our wishes (style, comfort, budget) and what other options we could have. Decision was made, order placed and we were informed on how long it would take and when it would be delivered. All good and straight forward service. The sofas arrived duly on time and were exactly as ordered. And of course we paid the outstanding invoice on time.
Not a single letter, phone-call or postcard to enquire if everything was fine and to our liking. No 'how to take care of your new furniture' leaflet send out a few weeks after delivery, no news on sort-like style other furniture or furnishings we might want to consider now or in the future. Nothing at all.
We could have been in the market for a small table for next to one of the sofas to keep drinks or books on, or a special simple to apply stain removing product. Or new curtains in matching colours of the sofa.
Any small business not keeping in contact with its clients and/or prospects is leaving money on the table. Especially when there is an economical slump going on.
Every business has back-end products - items that don't need to costs that much but act as an accessory or addition etc to the first purchase. If you don't tell your clients or prospects regularly you have additional products for them and there is just the slightest chance they are contemplating such an additional purchase why should they think of you?
Think about it: economical slump or downturn doesn't mean no one is buying nothing any more - everyone might spend a little less or less often. And how do you make your business the obvious choice when something is needed (or wanted, we all still want things but are a bit more careful where we spend it)?
If my friend the Interior Designer had told me they also carry a small selection of inexpensive side-tables I might have spent a bit of pocket money on it instead of making do with a old bed-side table I use now (and which 'clashes' with the rest of our 'design').
All businesses know - or should know! - that it is much easier to sell to an existing client than to find a brand new client. And all it basically costs extra to keep your business in front of your client's thoughts is 27 pence.
Image: 27 pence per letter for a 2nd class stamp. That doesn't break anyones bank, does it? It surely doesn't ours, on average with every regular letter batch we send out (once a month to 1/6 of our client base) the extra turnover from returning clients is £ 65.00 on maintenance products, £ 110.00 on maintenance services and once every three months £ 1500.00 when a referred new client buys his first purchase (referring a new client to us is rewarded with a free maintenance service - and that reward is mentioned in every one of our regular letters to our client base).
For a small business many small purchases by many returning clients makes a big difference.
One word of 'caution': don't just tell your client base what other products or service you can provide - explain the benefits of the features these products or services might give them. I don't really respond well to a letter or leaflet that only contains a list of products or product ranges. A, it is not personal - specially not when there is totally no sign of 'mail-merging' my contact details on the letter or leaflet - and B, features won't tell me how this other product will benefit my circumstances.
Don't leave money on the table, spend that 27 pence, invest in a system (e.g. Mamut's CRM program is very cost-effective - from £ 79.00 on - and simple to implement) that can mail-merge your client's personal details onto a letter. Be out there, be active - pro-active even, so that your clients are constantly reminded of you and your quality products and services.
Many of your competitors sit back and wait for their clients to suddenly remember them out of the blue. Don't leave their memory to chance - make it easy to remember you. For 27 pence.