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Ask The Expert With Adrian Ulsh

by | Adrian Ulsh, Business Coaching Fundamentals

Q. Hi Adrian, I have a client that has a large database of past customers, but he hasn’t communicated with them in ages. Any suggestions how we can go about reactivating these “stale” customers?

Jerri Ryan


Hi Jerri,

New customers are a business owner’s personal addiction. We can’t get enough of them. 99% of the marketing messages in the world today exist for only one reason, to pull in new customers. Business owners are hammered over and over that they need new customers. But if your business has been around for some time and you have current customers, you can experience serious business growth by target marketing to those customers.

Keep in mind the golden rule for business success. ‘Never let a customer or client forget you!’ It doesn’t take much to keep your happy customers and clients coming back to you again and again. When they do come back, the profit margin is substantially higher than if you have to seek out a new client from a list of cold suspects.

So here are five strategies to bring your past clients back for more so that you fully monetize the value of each client:

Strategy #1 is the Reactivation Letter

This is simply sending all of your past clients who you haven’t heard from or dealt with in the last six months or more a letter to say that you miss them. There are a number of variations on this theme, however, the general idea is just to be back in contact with them, apologize for not being in touch for a while, and let them know you value them as a client and would love to see them back with you. This particular strategy works well in transactional type businesses, but it can be adopted to practically any type of business.

Strategy #2 is the Exclusive Irresistible Offer

You must give them a reason to come back. The easiest way to do this is to create irresistible offers exclusive for past clients. Make them an incredible offer that they can’t refuse and get them back doing business with you. Once they’re back in the fold as a happy paying customer or client they’re far more likely to continue.

Strategy #3 is to offer New Products or Services

Sometimes your customers or clients just simply get bored. They move on because you’re just peddling the same old stuff over and over to them. It’s really important to keep developing new products, new services, new ways of bundling your products and services together. This way you always have a reason to go back to them.

Strategy #4 involves Client Appreciation

You should value your clients and show them that you value them. One of the best ways to do this is to use the Client Appreciation strategy. This can take many different forms, but one of the best ways to do this is to hold a Client Appreciation Seminar or Webinar complimentary for your clients and past clients. Invite them all and provide real value to them. You will be amazed at how they will respond and how their enthusiasm for doing business with you will be re-ignited.

Strategy #5 is to Say Thanks

We live in a fast-paced world where few people take the time to simply say thanks. Most customers and clients feel unappreciated which is why they wander off over time, never to be heard from again. Why not send them a simple handwritten card to let them know you’re thinking of them and to say thanks for their past patronage. At the very least, this will help you maintain top of mind awareness with them.

These are just a few simple ideas to get you started. The key is to maintain regular contact with them, continue to add value to them through the relationship you have with them and continue to offer them different products and services.

Whatever you do, don’t be like the Personal Trainer I spoke with recently at the gym. This guy was complaining about how difficult it is these days to get clients. When I asked him about the number of previous clients he’s had, he told me the number was well over 100. I asked him how he remains in contact with these past clients, to which I heard crickets chirping, stone cold silence. He looked at me like I had lost my mind.

It had never entered his mind to stay in touch with his past clients. I asked him to honestly estimate, based on his past experience, what percentage of his past clients had let themselves fall back into their previous behavioral patterns, which included poor eating habits and a lack of exercise. In other words, how many of his past clients did he estimate were once again overweight and unfit and in desperate need of his help. He told me flat out, at least 70%.

So, think about that for a moment. When was the last time you spoke to all of your past clients or customers? What strategies can you put in place today to reactivate them? If you do nothing, then you’re leaving large amounts of cash on the table that could easily be flowing through your business. After all, there’s no point marketing for new clients if you can’t take care of your existing and previous ones.

Reactivation Candidate

So, who is a reactivation candidate? To reactivate customers, you need to be attentive to the process. First, to determine which previous customers to reactivate, define what reactivation specifically means for your organization. Most companies define reactivation candidates based on their lack of response to previous marketing efforts. The sequential marketing efforts that an organization may follow typically begins with an acquisition, then proceeds to resell/upsell/cross-sell/downsell strategies, then moves to retention, and winds up with reactivation.

So how do you differentiate between customers who require selling and retention efforts from those who require reactivation efforts? First, and most obviously, if you know that you’ve lost your customer’s business, then you’ve probably exhausted your sales and retention efforts and can assign the customer to your reactivation group.

If you don’t know whether you have lost your customer’s business, make inquiries. If you find that it’s too expensive to keep in touch with customers, then analyze their buying history, such as the length of time since their last purchase, their number of prior purchases, and the length of time between purchases and average order size. If necessary, apply industry averages to determine who might be a reactivation candidate.

But who do you select for reactivation?

Before designating customers as reactivation candidates, determine whether you have their correct contact information. Exclude past customers who have outdated information that can’t be updated through third-party sources.

Also, review any customer service or third-party data you have on reactivation candidates and categorize the reasons for lost business as “controllable,” such as those that were shipped the wrong product two weeks after the promised delivery date, or “uncontrollable,” those that have moved from the retail area. If you’re to blame for the failed relationship, determine whether there’s value in re-establishing it.

Once you select your reactivation candidates, segment this group and test offers before spending money to reach them all at once. If possible, use lifetime value to determine which segments may yield a higher return.

Now, when do you conduct reactivation marketing?

Reactivation is not a one-time event you save for when times are tough. Reactivation should be an ongoing activity prioritized among additional marketing efforts.

Once you have customers who meet your reactivation requirements, execute a reactivation campaign.

This is where you want to apply those five strategies to bring your past clients back to you that we previously discussed.

 About Adrian Ulsh

Adrian Ulsh is the CEO for Leader Publishing Worldwide, the largest online provider of coaching services worldwide. Adrian currently works with more than 500 coaches in 24 countries advising them on building 6 and 7 figure coaching practices.

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