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Your Customers Are the Gift You Give Yourself

Occasional Contributor

What's the best gift you'll get this holiday season? Is it some cool high-tech gadget? Gift cards? New clothes? Bottles of alcohol?  


What if there was something that could reach qualified new customers (without costing you anything), convince them you are the right person to do business with, and for each one of these people who becomes a fan on Facebook, it gains you another $9.56 for your business? It's not a fairy tale. In fact, you have this gift already: It's your customers, and with just a little nurturing they will be happy to give you the gift of a growing business.


Current customers get you new business


The best marketing any business can get is the kind that's driven by word of mouth, by those who have done business with you and are willing to recommend you to others. Even better, this kind of marketing doesn't cost you anything! Great news, but for this gift to work you must provide an experience that has value in your customers' eyes. I picked the word experience because I want you to think beyond your product or service and think about all of your interactions with customers. This includes any emails you send, blog posts you write, social media posts, or customer service interactions that happen. Remember: Your relationships are with individual people, not talking wallets. If you talk about what is important to and valued by customers, then you can watch the revenue roll in.


Customers provide reviews that drive sales


Every day when I talk to small businesses, I hear how hard it is for them to reach new people. My secret? Get more voices speaking and saying the things that matter to your customers, not the things that matter to you. What matters to customers? It's what other people are saying and thinking, and generally not your promotional messages. The easiest way get more voices is to actively gather reviews of your business and share them in each of your marketing channels. Sites like Yelp are devoted to reviews and ratings of business, so create your own page and ask your customers to write reviews for your business. Let your email readers know that you're collecting reviews and ask them to write one — or better yet, include those reviews in your email newsletter; that's a better encouragement anyway. How about when your customers are at your business? Since so many people have mobile devices, ask them to provide a review right there, or to tweet or post about you on Facebook. Being great at what you do is fabulous. It's better if people say so.


Engaging with you in social media brings new rewards


The value of connecting with customers on social media is evident in each stage of your relationship, from introduction to advocate. On average, people spend an additional $71.84 on products of which they are Facebook fans, compared to those that are not fans on Facebook. In addition, 56% of customers are more likely to recommend a brand after becoming a fan on Facebook. We've established that in the early stages, it matters more what other customers say than what you say. How actively you engage with your fans increases how many people you reach outside of your own network. If those people see value, your fan numbers will grow and so will your word of mouth.


As you start 2012, look back at all the gifts you've received this season and put some thought into your customers. Make a New Year’s resolution to say thank you to your customers and focus on listening and giving them the content they want.


Do you have a favorite customer that you wish you could duplicate? I would love to hear about how they are a great gift to your business and what you have learned from them. Share your thoughts here or on our Facebook Page.


Head up the team at Constant Contact that produce & present web workshops on marketing for SMB’s. (BtoB,BtoC&NP) I still man the the microphone to keep it real with our users. Love to leverage my real experience and geek cred- WPI, a fresh view on what works and what does not work.