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Value of Retaining Clients —Sherburne

February 2010

WHERE SHOULD your company place its emphasis: on customer acquisition or customer retention? Historically, marketers have been more focused on customer acquisition, but increasingly are turning their attention to retention of existing clients.

According to interactive marketing services company Acxiom, this is fueled by changes in customer behavior and the perceived increasing cost to acquire new clientele. Experts have indicated that it can cost as much as five to eight times more to acquire a new customer than to retain and grow an existing one. Whether or not this is true, the pendulum has certainly swung toward retention for many marketers.

Acxiom suggests a marketing lifecycle that starts with acquisition strategies, moving to nursery (or nurturing) strategies to build the strength of the relationship, and then lengthening and deepening customer value with growth and retention strategies. Finally, it is important to identify and address clients who are likely to defect with attrition strategies. This is the type of approach printing companies should consider, as well.

And, it is perhaps a much simpler process to implement in our industry than in many others because of the level of personal interaction that most printing firms have with their customers, whether through the sales force, CSRs or, hopefully, by the management team.

Today, there is a plethora of other means of staying in touch and staying top of mind. Presumably you are already including promotional and other messages with job shipments and invoices. Perhaps you are also following up periodically to ensure that your clients are satisfied with the work you are doing, through phone calls, paper-based customer satisfaction surveys or e-mail/Web surveys.

The Customer Is King

Tracking this data across customers and over time can also provide good insight into trends and issues that might cause customer defection, allowing them to be addressed before the situation becomes too dire. And look for innovative ways to use social media, newsletters and other communications to keep customers informed and make them feel wanted and important—that you are truly a partner and not just after the next order.

In terms of those customer behavior changes, marketers appear to be taking a conservative approach in their priorities and plans for 2010, with print high on the list of places to decrease spending. According to B2B Magazine's 2010 Outlook, published in November, 58 percent of marketers have cut their marketing budgets in response to the economic crisis, with spending on events and print being the biggest losers.



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