Graphic designer pointing with finger on laptop computer during collaboration with colleague

Years ago I managed PR for a multi-national CPG company. One product in my portfolio was a popular morning beverage many people take with cream and sugar. I was invited to join the team on a three day immersion into their current consumers’ habits, needs, and lifestyle. I was assigned to shadow a woman who busily managed her household of 6 (one husband, three kids, and an obligatory golden retriever), was heavily involved in her community through volunteerism, and had plans to return to her career in nursing after “the kids were out of the house.” She had very specific routines surrounding this morning drink, including how she brewed the pot she shared with her husband, when she reheated a cup mid morning for quiet time, and her beverage choices for the few times a week she met a friend or fellow volunteer to discuss projects at a local cafe. 

I shadowed her for three days…watching how she interacted with family and friends, how she cleaned the house, what she was passionate about, how she made big and small family decisions. All to better understand how she, already a heavy consumer of my client’s product, could be made an even more engaged consumer for additional morning drink offerings. While this might be a commitment of time and resources few companies have, it highlights the importance of gaining and leveraging insights into your current customer base. While getting new consumers was critical, these marketing geniuses knew keeping and increasing share-of-wallet with current customers would yield greater results long-term. And while no one is flying out to hang out in a stranger’s house anytime soon, the good news is that today’s van online data makes understanding your current customers from a distance much easier. 

It’s no secret that expanding your business through organic growth is infinitely easier than acquiring new customers. That said, it seems that new business gets the lion’s share of attention. Too often businesses focus their efforts and budgets on increasing their company’s bottom line through new customer growth. For business leaders, it’s time to shed this old and unproven hyperfocus on new business and instead turn your attention to profit growth already within your grasp — your current customer base. In fact, according to Invespcro, increasing customer retention rates by 5% can increase profits by 25% – 95%. Research also shows that repeat customers spend more than new ones, the probability of converting an existing customer is higher than winning new, and that an increase in customer retention yields a rise in the value of your company. 

To increase retention in the B2B space, you need to understand your customers and proactively offer solutions to their business challenges, both now and in the future. The best thing about increasing your focus on current customers is that you already know a lot about them so uncovering data-driven insights should be well within your grasp. Depending on how long they’ve been customers and to what extent you’ve built relationships, along with the strength of your CRM system and protocols, you know about your customers’ purchase history, use cases, company goals, and their own end users. Leveraging this rich data on a customer-by-customer basis can help increase their engagement. Leveraging it on a more global scale across your customer base can lead to insights that drive your retention marketing strategy. 

Uncovering data insights across your customer base means looking at ways to increase engagement using information. For example, do your customers typically buy your product or service in regular intervals, re-engaging with you on a discernible timeline? By providing them with solutions aligned to that timing, you’ll not only be seen as a valued partner anticipating their needs, but you can mitigate the risk of them turning to a competitor. You can also use cross-customer data to uncover which customers might not be making use of all of your services that they could be. Imagine that 75% of customers in a specific industry or geography buy products or services A, B, and C from you. Determine why the other 25% are only buying A and C and then build a plan to realize potential increased revenue from sales of B. 

Content is a strong tool for lead generation, but it shouldn’t be overlooked as an avenue to increase organic growth among current customers. You’re uniquely positioned to understand your customers and provide them with useful information to grow their own business with your partnership. Engaging your customers with strong content that speaks to their pain points, industry challenges, and current events will maximize their lifetime value to your organization. 

Making sure that content is high quality, comprehensive, and readable are critical to success. Too many digital marketing companies offer down-and-dirty content services that produce low quality that savvy customers – both prospective and current – can spot a mile away. Cutting corners to develop content never pans out; I would much rather invest in a single quarterly comprehensive, creative, and strategic piece that speaks directly to my customers and their needs than have 10 monthly fly-by-night blogs that could pertain to anyone’s customer base. Done correctly, that one long-form piece of content can be transformed into blogs, infographics, social posts, emails, or other short pieces that continue to engage your current customers leading to organic growth. 

Creating strong retention-focused content should start the moment a prospect becomes a customer. Don’t miss the opportunity to begin a deeper relationship right away through onboarding content. A welcome email will engage them on multiple fronts, increasing opportunities for long-term relationships and growth. Also, developing content for your current customers gives you much more freedom to personalize the experience. Consider the way you talk with friends versus how you talk to strangers and apply the same principles when building retention-focused content. Even if you do keep a more high level tone in content, ensure it’s personalized for how your customers work with you so they feel they are getting information from a trusted partner.

While it’s great to make new friends, keeping the old is often even nicer. So pour yourself a hot cup of morning beverage and invite some over to grow your business together.

Originally published by the Rochester Business Journal