Much of marketing is about laying a strong foundation for sales, bringing qualified leads to the door and staying connected and top of mind with your existing customers. However, there is one group that often gets neglected when developing a company's marketing plan – the past or inactive clients. We have found that these people can be an outstanding source of business!
Why are your past or inactive clients so valuable?
- They know you and (hopefully) like you.
- They understand your products and services and the value you provide.
- They have paid you money in the past – and they may just do it again!
From Active to Inactive Client – A Smooth Transition
So how can you tap into this valuable resource? The first step is to make sure that you are transitioning your active clients to inactive clients in a strategic way, so they don't simply fade away and forget you. And sometimes this just means remembering to do the simple things. We call this important marketing element "closing the loop." Here are a few ways you can take action to do just that:
- Share the results you've achieved, and ask for a testimonial.
When you wrap up a project or assignment, it's tempting to move quickly onto the next one. But taking the time to do a "debrief" with your client about what was accomplished can reap rewards by ending the engagement on a positive note. If your client is open to giving a testimonial, have someone call him or her for a quick interview and then draft some testimonials. These comments, once approved by the client, can be used in sales letters, in marketing materials, on your website and in customer stories.
- Make sure they subscribe to your newsletter and/or blog.
All prospects (and certainly all current clients) should be asked to become subscribers to your newsletter but if it hasn't happened, make sure it does before your project is over. In the past, we have reengaged with previous clients of our own all because they received an issue of our newsletter that compelled them to get in touch again.
- Interact with them on social media.
Connect to them on LinkedIn, have them follow you on Twitter, or ask them to become a fan through Facebook. Social media outlets are keeping businesses connected round the clock, long after assignments have ended. So take advantage by making sure that clients are engaged with your firm at this level.
Past Clients - Getting Them Back in the Fold
Now that you know what to do when transitioning active clients, let's talk about those clients who may have faded away, who may not have your business top of mind. How can you reengage them?
Luckily, there is no rocket science here. Many of the same ways that you keep in touch with prospects and customers work with past clients, too! They include your newsletter or blog, social media, personal phone calls and emails, sending relevant articles and resources to let them know you were thinking of them, etc. The key to success is to have a process in place and to execute it.
The 3-Step Process for Reengaging Past Clients
- Identify them – and ask yourself if you want to reengage.
Carve out some time to go through the Inactive Client files – ours are located conveniently in our Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. If you use HubSpot, Act!, Salesforce or any other CRM system, it should be easy to locate your inactive clients. Once you've pulled them out, decide whether you want to make an effort to reengage them. While we all have clients we love working with, the reality is that there are some we don't... and we may simply be happy that they are gone. And that's OK.
- Create categories for how you want to reengage.
When we sat down to do this exercise, we created categories for inactive clients that we wanted to take to lunch, those who we simply wanted to make sure were on our newsletter list, and those we wanted to include in a direct mail campaign. How do these previous clients prefer to communicate? Consider the methods and materials they were most responsive to in the past.
- Track your progress.
Make the commitment to revisit the Inactive list to see how you are doing. Have you taken those clients to lunch? Called the ones you said you would? Mapped out that direct mail campaign? Remember to stay organized, monitor every touch point, and hold yourself accountable for the steps you have planned in order to reengage.
With this approach, you can make sure you are leveraging a potentially powerful source of new business. Sometimes, all it takes is a look into the past! Just because your previous customers haven't recently contacted you, it doesn't mean they couldn't use a second round of your products or services. So hop into your time machine, formulate a communication plan, and start reaching out to the ones who still make a great fit for your business.