Did you know that it is up to ten times more expensive to win a new customer than to turn a regular customer into a “repeat offender”? And that the average revenue per regular customer is much higher than that of new customers?
For that reason alone, it pays to invest in customer loyalty. In addition: Satisfied regular customers like to recommend your company further and thus ensure that you do not run out of orders in the future.
How first customers become regular customers
There are therefore sufficient reasons to strive for the largest possible and loyal clientele. Although customer acquisition is in the foreground during the start-up phase. You should not lose sight of how you can keep your new customers permanently attached to your business.
Your business plan offers you an excellent opportunity to deal with the strategy for customer loyalty in the run-up to your foundation. In it you answer the following questions:
- How do you keep in contact with your customers?
- What are you doing to keep your customers loyal to you and your brand?
There are many possibilities for customer loyalty. Very popular, although not undisputed in their effect, are special perks for regular customers, such as loyalty points or discount campaigns. In addition, you can keep your customers up-to-date on current promotions, new products, or developments in your business, remembering birthday and Christmas greetings, or inviting them to special events. Whether you call them personally, send them a newsletter by e-mail or by post, or even pay for a lavish customer magazine, depends on your business model and your financial and time resources.
Good service is one of the most important requirements to keep your customers from switching to the competition. Good accessibility, quick reactions and always friendly staff speak for themselves, but also free additional services can play a role. Think about ideas that will inspire your customers and how you can add real value to them.
In this context, a special emphasis is placed on complaint management: If you react promptly when a customer complains, and show yourself in a courteous and understanding manner, you contribute a great deal to your satisfaction and a stable relationship.
Whatever you plan in this regard, make sure that the effort is within a reasonable and feasible framework. Keep an eye on your goals and check regularly whether your activities are really successful. You should avoid deadweight as much as possible – any discount will eventually reduce your sales! And remember that exaggerated bonus programs and permanent customer contacts can also make people flee.
Customer loyalty: The most important tips soon
- Do not stick with phrases, but describe as concrete as possible, which activities you have planned when.
- Acquiring new customers and keeping existing customers belong together and should form a coherent strategy for your marketing.
- The topic of customer loyalty does not play the same role for all business ideas. How much room it should take in your business plan depends on how you set up your business.
- Subscriptions represent the strongest loyalty of the customer to a company. However, the acquisition is particularly demanding in these cases.
- If you have different customer groups, you should think about different customer retention measures.
Learn from other founders
When Nico Müller opened his first hair salon in Berlin several years ago, he already knew how important customer loyalty would be for his company. His stated goal was to build “a very loyal customer base” with high quality and comprehensive service. He knew that would not be a self-run. Therefore, his business plan is not only about addressing and advertising new customers, but also about how they should be encouraged to come back with the help of bonus cards and vouchers.
You can read for yourself how Nico has summarized the whole thing for his potential financiers. He is one of over 30 founders and founders who have provided us with their business plan so that the users of our tool can learn from their example. When you register with Catherine Morland, you can see their full business plans, all of which have led to successful financing .
In his business plan, Nico does not limit himself to empty phrases à la “Customer loyalty is a special concern of mine.” Rather, he sets out exactly how he wants to live up to this claim. The reader learns what promotions and offers the founder has planned at what time, and how the marketing changes in the months after the start-up: The customer loyalty is namely compared to the acquisition and customer acquisition more and more in the foreground.
The young founder is aware that maintaining his existing customers is a permanent task. His business plan states: “It is planned not only to limit this customer approach to the start-up phase, but to bind customers intensively and permanently for the salon.”
Particularly benevolent Nicos donors should have taken when reading his business plan to note that he wants to conduct a survey on customer satisfaction. He wants to use the analysis of this customer survey to better meet the needs of his target group and to adapt his services accordingly. A good idea, because a typical mistake of founders is that they believe they know exactly what they want – but never put their assumptions to the test.
Especially with an offer that is very similar to the competition, smart customer loyalty strategies should be used.
Find the right size
It is important in all that you do not overtake in terms of customer loyalty. After all, after starting your own business you will have to take care of many, many things at the same time. Do not try to dazzle your readers with a huge amount of activity. That might make them suspicious, especially if you start as a one-person business. It is better to stay realistic and to limit oneself.
The business plan of Katharina Glücklich , who has fulfilled her dream of owning a café, shows that one can convince his financiers with just a few selected measures. She bets on a discount card for her regular customers. Apart from that, she writes: “The unique offer, the friendly service and the welcoming atmosphere of the Café Glücklich are, however, the central instruments for customer loyalty. In the long term, the most important marketing tool is positive word-of-mouth. “
However, Katharina does not want to leave this to chance. Rather, she intends to support the recommendations of her clients through the use of social media. For this purpose, she will set up a professional Facebook page where she will post information on current offers and events and post photos from her café that her customers can easily share at the push of a button.
The supreme discipline of customer loyalty: subscriptions
The space that customer loyalty occupies in your business plan depends on your business idea. An example of the fact that it can even be integrated into the business model as a central component is the company of Daniel Cremer. He and his business partner went on the market a few years ago with the brand Cremer , which stands for special men’s shirts made of bamboo . In their business plan, the two founders propose that they will sell their product by subscription: their customers will receive new undershirts at fixed intervals and will no longer have to worry about renewing their inventory.
Subscriptions can be described as the supreme discipline of customer loyalty. You have many advantages for you as a founder: your economic risk is reduced and sales can be better planned. However, this form of distribution requires a very high level of customer confidence and a repeated interest in buying, which is why customer acquisition is considerably more expensive than for individual purchases.
This is well known to Daniel and his partner, which is why they also sell their shirts individually, both through their own online shop and via middlemen. This results in different customer groups: the consumers who order in the online shop, and the retailers. For each of these target groups, the founders have considered specific measures for customer loyalty, which they set out in their business plan: While the end customers should be encouraged by e-mail marketing and discount coupons for further purchases, the link to the fashion stores is above all be strengthened by a flexible availability of goods, fast subsequent deliveries and regular personal communication.
Even though you have different customers or distributors for your offer, you should remember that you may need to offer different benefits to each group to ensure your loyalty.
The examples in this article show that there is no recipe for success in terms of scale and type of successful customer loyalty – it depends heavily on the particular sales model, audience, resources, product, location, and industry. You are welcome to get creative and break new ground. Just research on the Internet what other companies are doing to tie their customers. Maybe you can adopt concepts from another industry and thereby create a unique benefit for your target group?
The main thing is that you do not lose this topic out of sheer customer acquisition from the focus. The tasks of customer acquisition and retention are equally important for your success and should play an equal role in marketing. If you do that in your business plan, chances are good that you will find a large and loyal clientele for your offer.