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THE THREE TYPES OF CUSTOMERS

Even today I am surprised at the number of companies that do not digitize their client list and do not have a communication strategy to stay in touch with them and be present in their networks.

Most companies I encounter ONLY focus their advertising strategy on acquiring new customers. To defend them, that is what we see out there. We are bombarded with advertisements, and of course when the time comes to do the same for our company we say: if it works for them, it will work for me.

This analysis is an oversimplification as I am a client of several large brands and I can SEE in my inbox and on my social presence that their network marketing strategy is very present. So if imitating the big brands is a good strategy, SMEs should be including these three types of customers in their strategy.

What are the three types of customers? There are of course several ways to categorize customer profiles. Here I will focus on the degree of separation with the brand / company as a definition. With another focus, the typology might be different and but would still be appropriate.

So with our focus in mind, the first customer group would be: the existing customer.  I would define this type of client as one who is already in contact with your brand / company or that is relatively advanced in its purchasing process (if the purchase process is complex for your products/services). So, in terms of return on investment for your advertising efforts, it is with this segment that you will get your best figures. Why? Because they already know and trust you. Increasing the amount of sales should be something relatively simple. A question that I often get asked: if they already bought, what else could they want? All too often, customers who come in contact with you do so for a particular product / service and do not necessarily know all of what you have to offer. In addition, if you have covered the entire spectrum of what you can offer to these customers, nothing stops you from having a cross marketing strategy with a complementary company offering non-competitive products / services which should be meeting your high-quality standards. Do not forget that your name is on this transaction, so you should choose your marketing partners accordingly.

Another thing you should want from your current customers is their network of contacts. In fact, this strategy is as old as people selling stuff. It is called “word-of-mouth” and in the digital age we have tools to get it going faster than it would traditionally take to get this strategy going. Many things go into a successful word-of-mouth strategy: customer experience, social networks, content marketing and so on. But even if executing this strategy is more difficult than the one for your existing customers, it is a lot less so than the one for new customers largely because you are entering through the main gate. You are being introduced by an acquaintance, a friend, a family member. You already have a certain head start on your competitors who do not have such an introduction. This type of marketing is so important that some companies use exclusively this type of relationship marketing: multi-level businesses. How do you go about reaching the network of your contacts? Largely through social media. Social media helps to communicate, exchange and stay in touch with people who know us, and for our brands / companies it's the same thing. But for information to get around, it must be of great worth to the eye of the readers. And we do not mean promotions or important discounts. Well written information that positions you as an expert in your field will do wonders. So when the time comes for these people to buy, they will think of you as they will have read the posts sent to them by their network. And the more the information is good and relevant, the more it will get around in the network of contacts.

Our final type of client is: the new customer. With this type of client, everything must be done because they do not know you and nor did they got to know about you via a trusted person. Therefore they must be found, interested, convinced and satisfied. This in comparison to the other two strategies is a very expensive process.

Is your business starting out? Do you have a limited budget? Do not forget to include the first two categories of customers to maximize your investment. If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

Stéphane Elmaleh-Riel, B.Ed., MBA
Marketing consultant