About 50 percent of the profit generated by the average business comes from a core group of repeat customers. If you’re expanding the scope of your brand or entertaining other strategies to attract new business, maybe you should at least consider refocusing your efforts inward. Business strategists are quick to say that it’s harder to get a new customer than to keep an existing one, and even though the notion of brand loyalty has taken a hit in recent years, developing your existing customer base makes good sense.

Cultivating Your Existing Customer Base

The idea of making the most of an existing customer list isn’t new. It’s what rewards programs are all about. In fact, rewards programs are an excellent example of a strategy that encourages existing customers to buy more while making them feel connected to your business or products. This “connectedness” works for you in a number of ways. It brings customers back again and again, netting you additional revenue. It entices them to buy more in order to reach a specific plateau you set, becoming eligible for prizes and other perks. It also discourages customers from shopping the competition. The customer gets something, and so do you.

It’s no mistake that key chains across the U.S. are sporting discount swipe cards (rewards cards) for everything from groceries to gasoline. Rewards programs can be structured a number of ways, too. You can opt for instant register discounts, mail in discounts, store “bucks,” prizes, and even discounts at venues like car washes or movie theaters.

There are other advantages to rewards programs: As you start to accumulate intelligence about the buying habits and hot buttons of your best customers, you’ll be able to target promotions to those key areas. Instead of casting as wide a net as you would to attract new business, you can hone and cultivate the customers you have today. Better yet, the lessons you learn from your efforts can help you market better in the future — to both new and existing customers.

Here’s another point to consider. Satisfied customers are effective referrers, promoting your goods and services to their colleagues and friends. You can’t buy that kind of rock solid marketing, but you can earn it by providing reliable products and investing in exemplary customer service. In this economy, your goods may not sell themselves, but your satisfied customers can help sell them for you. They’re the voting majority you want on your side because they vote with their wallets and endorsements.

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