Most businesses have a customer database. Are you tapping this gold mine of a resource for “new” business? One of the best things you can do to market your small business is to reach out to former customers and remind them that they are missed. Are you asking for what you want in your business? Do you want your former customers to come back? Then why aren’t you asking them for their business?

To do this, set up a reminder for yourself to review your customer database once or twice per year. Sort your customers by activity and consistently reach out to customers who have lapsed for a certain period of time. This will vary by business-a small grocer might reach out to customers who have lapsed for 90 days, an HVAC contractor after one year or more. Reach out by phone, by letter, or by email. Let them know you’ve noticed their absence and you’d love them back. Offer an incentive and be sure to include YOUR phone number and a reminder that you value their feedback (there could be a legitimate reason why they haven’t done business with you in awhile).

It is also effective (and important) to stay in touch with the top 20% of your customers. When sorting, look for the customers who are the most active and have spent the most with your business. Send them a thank you (and small gift or offer) for being one of your best customers. Let them know you appreciate their referrals, but don’t always ask for more business. A simple thank you is enough to spur them to recommend you on their own.

Use your customer database effectively and remember to market to people you know have done business with you already.

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by Steven Schlagel