One of the truisms of marketing is that it costs seven times as much to capture a new customer than to reach out to one’s own customer base.

True or false what cannot be ignored is that everyone likes to be involved. This is just a fact of human nature – so why not give customers a say in what you sell? The innovative publishing house Taschen, who produce a series of art books on specific painters, are always asking their customers which artists they should cover next. And of course they have a ready-made market when the new book does come out!

Of equal importance is to create a dialogue. Don’t let any customer think that in any way that they are a number or just an “invoice.” Take them seriously and include them in your communications protocol. So contact them as often as is sensible when you are not selling them anything.

If however you do want to sell them something, then an upsell or a complementary sell is the easiest route. But make sure that you don’t offer them a worse deal than new customers or the exercise becomes self-defeating.

Also don’t forget that existing customers are often your best sales force. Ideally your customers are your best “promoters.” Use them ruthlessly! Use them on your sales collateral, get them to provide testimonials and to come in and talk to your teams about their experiences. And of course ensure that you have excellent and well set up reference sites in place.

One last thing. Never assume that your customers know all about you and are aware of everything you sell. It is surprising how often even the most loyal customers are unaware of your complete product or service range. Take the time to remind them on a timely and regular basis.

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