How to recapture “lost” customers and clients

in On Local Business Marketing

One of my favorite lunch spots is a Mexican chain called Qdoba. Like many restaurants, they have a customer loyalty program. In a nutshell, the more you eat there, the more incentives they give you to keep coming back. It’s a good deal all around. This week, something happened with that program that impressed me, and packs a heck of a marketing lesson for local small business owners.

Let me explain…

I’ve been traveling lately, and had not been to Qdoba in nearly a month. When I returned home from my last trip, I checked my E-mail and found a message from them inside.

Here’s an excerpt:

We’re About To Put Your Face On A Milk Carton.

Michael,

We haven’t seen you around lately.

And we miss you. So here’s a quick reminder about why you
came here in the first place. We’ve got hundreds of menu
options, from burritos to grilled quesadillas, taco salads
and Warm 3-Cheese Queso that has been known to bring taste
buds to their knees. And, it’s all made fast, fresh and
right in front of you from real, fresh ingredients. One
taste will remind you. You’ll never go missing again.

–> GET FRESH FOR FREE.
Buy any entree, get any entree of equal or lesser value FREE.

The “marketing geek” term for this is a lost customer promotion. The idea is bring people who had been good customers in the past, but have not been in recently, back in the restaurant to buy again. These campaigns are astoundingly effective, but most businesses just do not execute the strategy well. This is why I was so impressed by Qdoba.

Most retail, service and business-to-business companies assume that if a customer or client bought once they will be back when they are ready to buy again. This is foolish and flat-out wrong. The most successful small businesses know that customers and clients stop buying not because they are unhappy, but simply because they feel unappreciated and ignored.

A lost client campaign is a cheap and effective way to make those clients feel appreciated and let them know you want them back. It only takes one return sale you wouldn’t have otherwise had to pay for an entire campaign every single month. Here is a simple, 3-step strategy you can use to put one of these systems to work in your own small business.

  • Make sure you capture all client information, everytime, no exceptions – You need a system that will capture the contact and transaction information of your customers, the initial sale and all subsequent sales.
  • Run a report every month of clients who have not bought from you recently – If your business is retail, a period of 60-90 days after their last purchase is optimal. For business consulting, the period depends upon the solutions you offer.
  • Send a personal letter designed to bring them back to your small business – Let them know they are missed and that you want to make sure they have been happy with their solutions. Make a special offer to bring them back in the fold. For retail, a certificate for something free with any purchase works well. Businesses respond well to “technology check-ups” and information about new solutions you have available.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mdf Dtf July 7, 2010 at 9:41 am

client's data base will work for sure. just greeting them on their bdays either thru email or mail will make them feel appreciated and valued. customer wants that… they can even refer you to their sphere of influence with that experience but of course quality service is still essential.

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2 juliacassidy May 17, 2010 at 1:30 am

I personally believe that this article can be very useful if it is used properly. It is not possible to expect these articles to be magic or to do whatever we don't do ourselves. Thanks for sharing,

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3 Anonymous October 22, 2009 at 8:10 am

That is a good example. I think a personal note as well as a free gift or special is important as well. I don't like if I just get a sales letter or pitch letter. Google often sends gifts to their affiliates at holiday time which is a nice touch.

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4 Anonymous October 14, 2005 at 12:10 pm

I love the idea mentioned in the article—-any other suggestions for cute, witty presentations?
——-

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5 Anonymous October 14, 2005 at 5:10 pm

I love the idea mentioned in the article—-any other suggestions for cute, witty presentations?——-

Reply

6 Anonymous August 1, 2005 at 7:08 am

The Carnival of the Capitalists (Mmmmm, Capitalism!)

Welcome to the August 1st, 2005 edition of The Carnival of the Capitalists.

I have a confession…

Each week I visit the COTC, but I’ve been a scanner. I’ll look for titles that jump out at me, titles that seem likely to tickle my fan…

Reply

7 Anonymous August 1, 2005 at 12:08 pm

The Carnival of the Capitalists (Mmmmm, Capitalism!)
Welcome to the August 1st, 2005 edition of The Carnival of the Capitalists.
I have a confession…
Each week I visit the COTC, but I’ve been a scanner. I’ll look for titles that jump out at me, titles that seem likely to tickle my fan…

Reply

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