Keep your customers engaged and you’ll reap rewards, FSBDC panelists say

 05-25-2021  Ellen Forman

To find a new customer, it takes time, effort and money - all in short supply for most small businesses. Yet in the hunt for new leads, many businesses miss a sounder strategy: growing engagement, and business volume, with the customers they already have.

From social media strategies and maximizing CRM to thank-you notes and cool contests, there are a wealth of ways to keep your customers coming back for more goods and services, turning them into brand ambassadors in the process, explained panelists at “Engaging Your Customers and Keeping Them Loyal,” a virtual panel presented by the Florida Small Business Development Center at FIU Business.

“Customers are the lifeline of your business,” said Orlando Espinosa, co-founder of Emineo Media and moderator of the panel, which took place May 11, 2021. Citing statistics that an existing client spends 67% more than a new one, he said, “Once you convert someone to believe in what you’re selling, you often have them for a lifetime.”

Among the recommended strategies for engagement:

Leverage technology and social media.

You don’t have to engage in all social media platforms, said Karen Vieira, CEO of The Med Writers. She encouraged business owners to learn which channels their customers use, “pick one you know you could do, and stick to it,” she said. “If writing is your thing, do blog posts – write once and put it everywhere.” On the other hand, if you like talking to people, record a video. The key to success, she said: “Do what you are capable of doing consistently.”

And keep it real, said Scott Tubbs, CEO of Emineo Media.  “Stay away from the sales pitch. Give them access to who you are as an individual. Don’t worry about being a professional. Let them see who you are.”

Use CRM to develop targeted customers.

If used correctly, your customer relationship management (CRM) software can speak volumes about your clients, Espinosa said. Use it to remember birthdays, or to send reminders when a previously-purchased product goes on sale.

Above all, don’t let the information get stale. Update it regularly, and use it to reach out with the next product or the next potential engagement for the customer, said Samantha Jade, owner of That’s SMART Business: “It’s the low hanging fruit – that’s the easiest way to explain it.”

Build your online following.

Staying engaged could be sharing small tips or a short video with relevant information on a weekly basis. Jade’s suggestion: write down the questions your clients ask you and address that in your educational content. “It serves a purpose of answering questions on a bigger scale,” and having updated, relevant content will increase your chances of appearing in search engines, she said.

Strategize to build emotional connections.

“Once you get started, your customers and clients will show you what content you need,” Espinosa said. When clients post, “continue the conversation.” Tactics for building connection could include a contest, a loyalty reward or other motivation to spur engagement. Sending thank-you notes, birthday cards – all serve to keep your business top-of-mind for your most valued customers.

The ultimate goal, Vieira noted, is to turn your customers and employees into brand ambassadors.

“A brand ambassador is a raving fan, whether they’re internal or external,” she said. “It’s all about developing those connections with your current customers and team, so they’re developing those connections for you.”

View the full panel discussion on the FSBDC @ FIU YouTube Channel.

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