Before you spend considerable time and resources chasing new customers, make sure you’re making a solid effort to revisit former clients who have slipped off the radar. Former customers know your newspaper, your products, and your capabilities – after all, they once made the decision to purchase advertising from you (or one of your colleagues.) So it may take less effort to persuade them to buy from you again than it will to develop a new customer from scratch.
Step 1: When, What, and How Much?
Ask your sales manager to run reports from the past couple of years. This will give you data to analyze so you can recognize former customer buying habits and seasonal trends. Before approaching old clients, you need to know when they are likely to purchase and how much they have spent when they do buy. Also, be sure to familiarize yourself with what their advertising content looked like (branding, price & product, specific sales, etc.)
Step 2: Why Did They Stop?
It’s crucial to find out why a customer decided to stop buying from your newspaper. The only way to do this is to re-establish contact with them and ask the question. Of course, you need to massage the approach a little bit. I would suggest something like “I’ve been reviewing our former advertising accounts and noticed that you used to run weekly ads during May, June and July for many years before suddenly stopping in 2010. I’m wondering if you can explain why you may have stopped using our newspaper as a marketing vehicle?” The goal is to figure out what you have to do to regain their business.
The answers you receive may sting a little bit if the customer received less than stellar service and still holds a grudge. But then again, you may simply discover that advertising budgets ran dry, there was a change in management, or advertising strategies shifted. Whatever the case, re-establishing contact provides you with an opportunity to build a fresh relationship with a client that, at one point in time, believed in the effectiveness of newspaper advertising. It’s up to you to regain their trust, overcome their objections, and convince them that your newspaper is still the most cost-efficient and effective manner to communicate a marketing message in your community.
Step 3: Make Them Feel Valued
Sometimes customers drift away simply because they did not have consistent contact with your business. Sales were made, but no follow up occurred. If this is the case, you’ll want to make that client feel special – even if they are not yet ready to buy from you again. Send them an email every few weeks with marketing information about their business category or other information they may find valuable. Let them know that you’re thinking about them. You never know when their marketing strategy may change, or one of your competitors may disappoint them, leading to a change in their advertising plans. If you’re top-of-mind, you may just be the first person they call asking for help.
Have a terrific week,
If there are specific topics you’d like to see discussed in a future issue of The Sales Cycle, please contact me at (612) 278-0223 or firstname.lastname@example.org