Build on a Strong Foundation

From the Center for Strategic Relations, a twice-monthly supplement to Applying Strategic Relations, mailed at your request

In this Issue:

  1. Forward
  2. Before Expanding, You Must Better Serve Existing Customers
  3. Shameless Self Promotion
    Do you have a marketing program that enhances sales to existing customers?


Many companies want more customers but frankly cannot keep the ones they have. In this lesson, I will give you three strategies to retain customers while building market share. You will want to take these customer relationship-building methods into consideration.

Everything you read here I have tested and put into practice with my own business. If you have any questions, please write and I will address your concerns in a future issue.

Thank you for reading!

Respectfully submitted,

Justin Hitt
Consultant, Author & Speaker

Before Expanding, You Must Better Serve Existing Customers

By Justin Hitt, Strategic Relations Consultant,

Common among executives today is their desire for a larger market share, greater customer satisfaction, and to overcome price erosion. Trade publications chant the mantra of strong customer relationships, but there is only one way to translate this concept into positive change. To expand your customer base, you must learn to serve your existing customers.

Here are three suggestions to improve customer relationships that build a foundation to for new and profitable customers:

  1. Use relationship methods that improve retention. Do not expect to keep new customers if you are not retaining existing customers. Many companies seek customers that even if acquired would not stay long enough to generate the profits they seek. You must understand existing customers cost five times less, know your natural rate of attrition, and how to identify those who might leave.
    1. Existing customers cost five times less. Because your existing customers are already familiar with the quality and value of your products, they are more likely to repurchase. Customers that repurchase save you in marketing, sales, and other efforts required to gain new customers. Improve customer repurchase and invest the savings in expanding your customer base.
    2. Know your natural rate of attrition. You are losing customers everyday, so before seeking new customers, why not keep more of the ones you already have. Strive to improve your normal rate of losing customers with a clear recovery program that addresses reasons they stop buying from you. Reducing attrition increases your return on investment for new customers.
    3. Identify those who may stray. Focus on the core reasons customers stop buying and use that information to improve your natural attrition rate. Regularly address these points as you tune your customer recovery program. Identifying these factors can contribute to the value you provide new customers.
  2. Understand what customers truly value. Sometimes what you think the reasons customers buy is and their actual reasons are vastly different. Until you know what value buying customers place in your company, you will not be able to convey that value to prospective buyers. Knowing why customers buy from you improves your marketing and sales methods, while helping you adjust to customer desires overtime.
    1. Understand why customers buy from you. Identify the unique traits your customers already use to justify your price and a purchase from your organization. These points set your company apart of the competition, and are more powerful when taken from existing buyers verse your own internal research. The reasons customers have for buying from you today are probably the same reasons others will buy from you in the future.
    2. Translate real benefits into copy. Often marketing materials are created from the prospective of product designers, internal research, and other elements abstract to real customer needs. Place emphasis on measured desires from real buying customers and you will improve your appeal to prospective customers. Make a solid effort to relay what you know of the values that specific customer segments are already saying.
    3. Encourage full loop customer feedback. Your customers want to refer new business to you and share their comments that will improve what they receive, but you might not be listening as well as you could. Document customer concerns at every interaction point then report to your customers on the actions you have taken to address these issues. Close the loop in customer feedback with open direct communications, before reaching out to those you do not yet serve.
  3. Identify profitable niches in buying customers. You are probably already serving highly desirable and profitable customers, just not in the volume you desire. By identifying small niches in your current customer base, you are not going cold into new markets. You will also have a reasonable amount of credibility that can open targeted efforts with strategic partners.
    1. Look for small niches in your existing customer base. You are already serving small groups of customers that represent the profitable customers you desire. Create a full picture of your existing customers to identify profitable segments, explore trends, and identify true cross-selling opportunities. You can increase your market share by growing profitable segments in your existing customer base before exploring new options.
    2. Test market matches that have not already. When you find a small profitable niche of your current customer base, you will have what you need to test prospects that closely match their demographics. Test your assumptions before you change company direction. Only after you have successful tests should your increase your marketing efforts in that particular area. Too often companies run off in multiple directions putting their existing customer base in jeopardy.
    3. Identify those already reaching the same market. Stretch your marketing dollar further by working directly with those who already reach profitable segments identified in your customer base. Use non-competitive bundling, cross promotions, and joint ventures to reduce costs while reaching new customers. Explore options that improve sales to existing customers and gain additional exposure to prospects you have not yet reached.

Before you can bring in new customers, you must have a foundation to keep them buying strong. Using relationship methods, you can profitably build a customer base that demands what you offer. What are you doing to keep the customers you have before seeking new ones?

© 2003 Justin Hitt, All rights reserved.
/ profitable-customers | business-success /

Justin Hitt provides solutions to executives interested in building stronger more profitable customer relationships. For a complementary report showing you how to identify better customers to increase profits, visit

Shameless Self Promotion:

Do you have a marketing program that enhances sales to existing customers?

Learn how to grow market share within your profitable customer segments, while keeping more of your existing customers. Most companies put together a marketing program over time without a real conscious effort or a strategy for customer retention. If you want measurable results that draw profitable customers, then reevaluate what you are doing today.

Justin Hitt helps executives build profitable customer relationships; he has been doing so since 1999. With experience earned in his own technology consulting company firm from 1992 to 1999, and from his working for top name companies world wide�he can teach your company how to keep the customers you have while reaching the ones you want.

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