How do you market to new customers without upsetting your existing customer base?

I asked on Twitter last week for suggestions for marketing articles that people would be interested in reading on this blog which will I will feature over the next few weeks.   The above title is one of the suggestions that I was given which I have been reflecting upon over the past few days.

It is a really interesting marketing dilemma.   For all of us our existing customers should be our bread and butter and our most important asset.  However in order to build and grow a business it is important that we also market to new customers.  But you want to do so in a way that keeps your existing customer base.

Some people would argue that marketing is not a scientific subject other marketers would say this is not the case it is a creative subject.  I tend to sit on the fence and believe that it is both scientific and creative.  And I fundamentally believe that marketing should be something that is carefully measured and evaluated and that there are some rule’s of thumbs that can help along the way.

Marketing to new customers can be the fun and interesting side to marketing which is why some companies can concentrate most of their efforts on this side of marketing and forget their important existing customers.  As a general rule of thumb if you are a business with an existing customer base I would argue that 80% of your time and effort should be put into communication with your existing customers with 20% of your time being spent on attracting new customers.  Your existing customers already buy from you and as hopefully loyal customers they should help you in your marketing by telling others about you.  Word of Mouth being the most effective marketing there is.

So going back to the question how do you market to new customers without upsetting your existing customer base?  Here are my four top tips on what to do.

1. Thank your existing customers and make them feel special – We all like to be appreciated and thanked and no one wants to be taken for granted.  So make sure on an ongoing basis you thank your existing customers for their business and make sure that they feel appreciated.

2. Communicate with your customers – Make sure that you use as many ways of communicating with your customers as possible.  From face to face to other communications such as regular enewsletters and other marketing communications such as your Facebook page.

3. Tell them your Plans First – Don’t hide your plans from your existing customers tell them about them first, what you are doing and what you hope to achieve.  That way your existing customers feel special and are highly likely to assist you by letting others know.  A recent example is the new VisitScotland TV advert.  VisitScotland sent this out to their database first with a link to the advert on U tube and also added it to their Facebook and Twitter accounts.  Result many people reposted it on their Facebook pages or retweeted it ensuring that it was being talked about not just by existing customers but also reaching new audiences days before the actual TV advert went live.

4. Make sure that the new customers that you want to attract are complimentary to your existing customers.  Sounds simple but it is an important point if you follow the above pointers and the new customers that you want to attract are similar to your existing customer base then as stated above your existing customers may well assist you in marketing to these new customers.  However if this is not the case then you need to consider if the gamble of attracting new customers is worth the business risk of losing existing customers.  And I would strongly advise that before you start you look carefully at the finances of your marketing campaign to ensure that the targets that you set for gaining new customers out weighs what it would cost the business if you lose existing customers.

Finally a big DON’t DO THis.   Please don’t offer your new customers incentives that you don’t offer your existing customers.  It always amazes me that this is done by magazine’s and banks who offer great deals to attract new customers yet once you are loyal to them you are offered nothing!  How does that make me feel?  Worthless, not valued and not at all loyal.  Will I stay with that business?  No.  Will I tell other’s?  Yes but not in a good way.  Is it worth it to offer incentives that will attract for a short period of time?  I would say no.

So my advice is thank your existing customers and make them feel special.  Communicate with them and tell them your plans so that you can work together to attract new customers.

Next marketing topic is “How can small businesses in a competitive industry connect with their target market when the big boys have big bucks?”.  And if there are any other marketing topics you would like me to cover email me on






About fionadranesblog

40 plus mum of two married with a mad cocker spaniel. Along with two colleagues run Bright Light Marketing a rural marketing agency who specialise in getting rural businesss noticed. Live in St Boswells in the wonderful Scottish Borders. Love books, walking and living life to the full here in the Scottish Borders though its sometimes a juggle!
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