How to Hold Onto Customers for the Long Haul

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This is going to be one of those “big picture” type of posts. If you're in a hurry, the gist of it is that one of the most important things you can do to hold on to customers long term is to get real good at continually pushing value to them over the long haul.

For our purposes, pushing value is all about making prospects and customers smart about the things that are in your wheelhouse. Meaning helping them find the answers they're looking for and making it easier to do whatever it is they're trying to do. Your past customer interactions are a good starting point for understanding what that is.

When I lived in Killeen, Texas, my grocery store of choice was H.E.B. or HEBs as we used to call it at my house. There were two within a short drive from where I lived and another in Harker Heights, the next town over. The entire time we lived in Killeen, we shopped almost exclusively at the Harker Heights store.

The staff had a much friendlier vibe and for us, it was a more enjoyable experience.

The sign on the building was the same. The items on the shelves were the same. The prices were the same.

Everything was exactly the same except the shopping experience itself.

When you're hauling very energetic kids around, the experience matters. And for our little household, the experience of shopping at the Harker Heights store was enough to get us to drive just a little bit farther.

They kept delivering the experience we wanted and we kept choosing them.

What Causes a Customer to Jump Ship?

You can't control what you can't control. One of those things you can't control is a customer's short attention span.

There are quite a few things in the marketplace that can cause a customer to get distracted and wander away. A recommendation from a friend, something new and shiny from a competitor, even something out of left field like an Instagram post from an “online influencer.” The list of distractions is pretty extensive.

However, you've got an ace up your sleeve if you choose to use it. It's a little thing called persistent follow up.

When you invite prospects into your sphere of influence, you're looking to make sales. You're also trying to hold onto to them as long as possible. When you continually push out valuable information, you're sending the message that you're in it for the long haul. That your goal is to help them solve the problems they're wrestling with and get where they're going.

It would be nice if they'd never get distracted and wandered off in the first place. But the internet is a distraction machine and since it isn't going anywhere, there will be wandering.

The Conversations You Should Be Having

So, what is this valuable information you're supposed to be constantly pushing out? And what is this conversation you should be having?

Information is what you're sending, a conversation is how you're sending it. Remember, your goal is to build a long term relationship.

Can you think of any relationships you've enjoyed where the other party just talked at you instead of with you? I'll let you percolate on that for a later discussion.

Today, we're going to limit ourselves to what you're conversating about.

This part is easy. And when you think about it, it’s pretty obvious. You talk about what your audience wants you to talk about.

For the most part you already know what those topics are.

In your capacity as the owner of a particular type of business, there is a pretty defined number of topics a prospect or customer would want to talk to you about.

You’re not Wikipedia.

If you’re a fence contractor, chances are somebody landing on your website wants to talk about fences or fencing. Doesn't take a master detective to figure that out, right?

What your audience wants to talk about has a lot to do with where they are in the buyer's journey. Those questions can range from very general to seriously in the weeds.

Those conversations are going to be about services you offer, things related to services you offer and other related questions.

You can think of these other related questions as “I don’t know what I don’t know, make me smart” type conversations.

If you’ve been in the business for a while, you’ve already had many of these conversations with past customers and prospects.

Now it’s time to push those conversations out to your audience in the form of videos, blog posts, podcasts and any other form of media that will get you audience’s attention.

That’s drifting more into the “how” of your conversation. We’ll get to that one a couple of posts from now.

In the next post we’ll finish up the “what” part of this discussion. We’ll touch on some of the standard techniques for making sure that, even though you're pulling topics from past customer conversations, you're not missing the boat on new topics prospects want to talk about today.

Talk to you then.

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