Thoughts on Retention

Retention is that marketing word for keeping your customers. Is there anything more important, especially in a sluggish economy?

As I stared out my office window at the snow-covered trees, I thought of this analogy, which people in rural Floyd County could certainly relate to. Suppose you have a large woodpile just steps away from your home, as do many folks where I live. You spent the summer and fall splitting wood and neatly stacking it near the door. It’s your heat and comfort for the coming winter.

Now winter has arrived. But instead of drawing from the woodpile, you wander into the woods to collect any other wood you can find. There’s not much to be found, and others are also searching nearby. What wood you do find is cold, wet and not ready to burn.

While off in the woods, you’ve left your woodpile unattended. What’s worse, when you return a significant portion is gone!

OK, you get the point. It can be very easy to overlook existing customers and any additional opportunities with them.

Don’t get me wrong: all businesses should do external marketing and cultivate new customers, even in a down economy. For some, increasing market share is a real possibility. But keeping your existing customers needs to be at the top of the marketing to-do list. If you tend to them, they will see your business through every season.

Loitering Allowed

I saw a new sign the other day at the Floyd Country Store: “Loitering Allowed.”

What a great sign and good business reminder. It lets customers and browsers and time-killers know that they’re welcome. Come on in. Look around. Hang out. We’re not worried about whether you buy anything or not. You’re welcome here.

In fact, the sign could just as easily say: Loiterers Welcome.

It got me thinking about businesses besides retail businesses, whether mega companies or small outfits. Are they—am I—transmitting a service-oriented attitude, a willingness to give clients, customers and prospects as much time as they need or want?

I think it’s important to let people loiter. Some will take advantage of it in a negative way, but most will not. It’s good for business. You may want to loiter with them. It can build better relationships.