Creating and Keeping Customers

A Continuing-Education Series from Chalk & Vemilion Fine Arts, Inc.


In our last issue of this series, we offered some tips on how to target new customers. Targeting them is one thing; converting them into a true paying customers is another! Communication, consistency, and caring are three easy words that can help you build your customer base.

Communication: The key to communication is to have and use the information! Seems simple enough, but many businesses are lazy about collecting important data about their customers and prospects. The most valuable commodity you can have is information. Use coupons, contests, a fishbowl on the counter to collect business cards – anything you can think of to get names, addresses, email addresses, and purchasing history. Don’t forget checks – most of the info you need is printed right on them. Once you have this information, use it! Call your Kondakova customers and invite them in the gallery to see the beautiful new Kondakova print you bought at Expo. Do a mailing to your framing customers and offer them a special client consideration during the month of June. Having this information on a computer database really makes this a simple process. Using a sales-management program, like ACT!, makes it even simpler (that’s what we salespeople use here at Chalk & Vermilion). You can also identify customers who have stopped buying from you and try to determine why – you might not like what you hear, but it could be a learning process for you.

Consistency: The name of the game in direct marketing is frequency. There is an old chestnut out there called the Three-Time Rule – a customer will generally only respond to your marketing pieces after having been exposed to them at least three times. Running one ad and not getting the response you expected does not mean that advertising does not work for you, and the same goes for postcard mailings, etc. Gallery owners sometimes get a little pale when considering the cost of direct mail, but consider the impact that you get from a four/color, direct mail postcard (which we can supply for you when you participate in our artist programs!) and the modest price of postage – where can you purchase that kind of marketing punch for less than forty cents! And you’re mailing to a qualified customer! Can’t beat it.

Caring: In as many ways as possible, let your customers know you value them as individuals and as customers. Identify their needs and desires and respond to them. For example, let them know you understand that they’re short on time, by offering (and advertising) extended hours, free delivery, and on-site consultation services. Create a repeat-customer reward program, with a preferred-buyer program, small gifts, or special discounts. Offer your gallery to special customers as an elegant place to hold a function; a business meeting, fundraising event, or upscale birthday party. Pay attention to news stories and demographic trends; more than one fortune has been made by someone who identified and responded to public demand.

With the constant competition for your customer’s attention and dollar, it’s essential that you create a post-sale loyalty program to keep those customers. Smart retailers will build long-term, trusting, win-win relationships with customers, distributors, dealers, and suppliers. Notice the words “build” and “relationships” – it doesn’t happen all at once or overnight. Don’t forget:

The majority of the business of most companies comes from current, satisfied customers

91% of unhappy customers say they will never buy again from a company that failed to satisfy them – and they’ll communicate their dissatisfaction to at least nine other people

It costs five times as much to acquire a new customer as it costs to service existing customers

One single purchase begins the relationship; the customer has acted upon a desire and you have met their needs. Don’t let it stop there – you can grow that one transaction into a whole lot of success!

55 Old Post road #2, Greenweich, CT 06830 (800) 877-2255

backback to top