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Why your lapsed customers could be your best bet

In your rush to recruit new customers, it's all too easy to overlook the most cost-effective marketing campaign of all - getting back in touch with your lapsed customers.

If you need proof that this works, read on. Mike Yorke runs the Mike Yorke Golf Academy. After reading my latest book he approached me asking for help in growing his customer base and that of the eight coaches he works with. I suggested we look at the lapsed customer base of each coach and make these our first targets.

We asked each coach to set aside a couple of hours to call their lapsed customers; they asked them how they were getting on with their golf and updated them on coaching services that they might be interested in. The coaches were then asked to follow up with a friendly email summarising the conversation. The results were fantastic.

One of the coaches emailed Mike the day after his calling session. Of the 25 lapsed customers he had spoken to, 12 had booked another golf lesson; six paid immediately. And seven asked that coach to stay in touch saying they would have more golf lessons in the future. Just six said they had no plans to return to golf coaching.

So why do so many business owners focus their energies solely on attracting new customers in preference to reopening the pipeline to their lapsed ones?

It boils down to:

  • Fear of rejection. What if they tell me why they stopped using my services and I don't like their answer?

  • It doesn't occur to them that a lapsed customer can become a live one again with coaxing.

So how can you get in touch with your lapsed customers?

  • Make a list of them;

  • What are the robust reasons why each one should come back to you? Have you made improvements to your products and services? Have you launched new products and services? It's time to tell them! Roll out the benefits they will enjoy upon returning to you;

  • You don't have to make an offer to encourage a lapsed customer but it can help. Use your judgement. If your service or product is one they have to continue using you can safely assume they've gone to a competitor so an offer could tip the scales in your favour;

  • Plan a campaign. Write a lovely letter with an introduction along the lines of: "Dear Dee, as it's been a little while since we have been in touch, I wanted to update you on the new/improved products and services we're offering that I am confident will be of genuine interest and benefit to you."

In one lapsed client letter, I began with the headline: "We've missed you!"

Make sure the letter shouts out quality so use 120gsm paper; attach your business card and if you've got a decent quality promotional gift that can go inside the envelope, pop it in! Consider handwriting the envelope. Follow up with a telephone call and find out why they left you in the first place and what their present arrangements are. Then follow up with an email recapping your conversation.

These are simple, powerful and proven tips that should bring some of your lapsed customers back to your business. What's stopping you?

Copyright © 2016 Dee Blick is a Fellow of The Chartered Institute of Marketing and an Amazon #1 bestselling author of The Ultimate Small Business Marketing Book and The 15 Essential Marketing Masterclasses for your Small Business.

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