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Five ways to attract repeat customers

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Publisher: Kelly Burkart - Posted on 07/11/2013

The exact statistics vary, but experts agree: it costs more to attract new customers than repeat customers—who will likely spend more. Need more proof? Count the loyalty membership cards in your wallet or the marketing emails in you inbox. Retailers and other companies know that loyal customers are valuable. As a small business, you can use similar tactics to attract repeat customers with an even more personal touch.

Where everybody knows your name

Whether you run a coffee shop, sell used cars or provide legal counsel, customers will notice if you remember their names, birthdays, anniversaries or other special events. If you don’t have a photographic memory, write dates down or keep a database. It doesn’t have to make your efforts less genuine. People want to be recognized and remembered, and for that they will keep coming back.

When there is always a good deal

A large department store chain recently learned a hard lesson when it did away with sales and coupons. Long-time customers of the chain complained about losing the discounts and commented that they liked the challenge of saving as much as they could with the coupons. Eventually, the chain went back to the original promotions. Think about ways that your small business has created loyal customers. Can you give your customers the satisfaction of winning or having special insights? Can you make it fun to do business with you?

Why the more things change the more they stay the same

Make sure your business is firmly rooted in its values before you experiment too much with offers and deals. First and foremost, people want to know where to get service and quality they can count on.

Work from your foundational values to nurture a positive culture where workers consistently deliver excellent service and experiences. Consistent employee training and good examples offered by you and other leaders can help foster friendly attitudes, graciousness and responsiveness to customers as well as among coworkers.

When you’re not the only game in town

With the Internet, virtually everyone has competition, so stay on your toes. Even if you think your product or service is unique, keep in mind how easily a customer can reallocate limited budget dollars: giving up coffee for smoothies or investing in a bike instead of a car.

You know the old saying about price, quality and service? You can’t successfully compete in all three areas, so you have to pick two. So, pick two! Research it. Own it. If your closest competitor beats you on price and service, then you beat them on service and quality.

Whatever your competitive strengths, keep an eye on the competition in case they try to encroach on your market share. Watch their prices and promotions, look for introductions of new services or products, and adjust your tactics accordingly.

Why you should celebrate each new customer with a communication plan

What do you do when you attract a new customer? High-five your partner? Go out for drinks? It’s important to celebrate success, but a new customer means a new relationship, not the end of sales or marketing. Have a step-by-step communication plan in place for each new customer so you remember to do things like:

  • Say thank you
  • Send reminders
  • Cross-sell or up-sell
  • Educate and inform

So many people seek out small companies because they want to form more intimate relationships and have personalized experiences. Big companies are trying to replicate this, so don’t be outdone. This is where your small business should shine.


Kelly Burkart is a freelance writer from Minneapolis, Minn. While she has spent most of her time writing about financial services the past 15 years, she has also explored and written about everything from cardiovascular health to travel, higher education and sustainable energy practices.

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