What keeps you up at night?

That’s a question we asked small business owners as part of a newly formed research panel designed to take an in-depth look at the current state of small businesses.

The results?

  • 76% of SMB owners worry about how to attract new customers
  • 49% of SMB owners worry about how to connect with, and better engage with, existing customers
  • 41% of SMB owners worry about how to get referrals from current customers

If any of these challenges keeps you up at night, customer marketing may be your answer for a better night’s sleep.

In this week’s Ask an Expert, Constant Contact’s senior customer marketing manager, Maureen Plowman, explains how small businesses can use customer marketing to attract new business, better engage with existing customers, and get more referrals.

Here is the transcript if you would rather read.

What is customer marketing and why is it important for small businesses?

When you make a new friend you do so because you share a common interest. As that friendship grows you learn more about your friend and you learn what each of you expect and value in the relationship.

Customer marketing is really no different. It’s all about deepening relationships with your existing customers by providing them with timely, relevant, and valuable information. As you do that, you’ll be able to learn more about what’s valuable to them and what’s of interest to them by the way they respond to your efforts. As those relationships begin to grow and mature, and you deliver on their expectations, you’ll also start to build customer loyalty and advocacy.

How can a small business use customer marketing to build their business?

Many small businesses I talk to say that one of their biggest challenges is finding new business.

By staying top of mind with your existing customers through relevant and timely information, they’re much more apt to come back to you when they have a need for your product, service, or experience.

Your existing customers can also be your best source of new business through referrals. If they’re a customer, client, or member whose loyalty you’ve gained—they’re that much more likely to refer you to their friends, networks, colleagues, etc.

Another great way to use customer marketing to grow your business is to let customers tell your story for you. You shouldn’t be afraid to ask for that testimonial to post on your social networks. Or you can incorporate ways to let customers tell about their success. It gives customers visibility and also adds credibility to your own business.

What is your best advice for a small business when it comes to doing customer marketing?

Be as relevant and timely as you can. Mind share today is precious so make sure you’re presenting your audience with offers and information that are relevant to them. If they’re not of interest to them, you’ll lose their interest very quickly.

Also, like any successful relationship, it’s important to have a balance of give and take. You wouldn’t keep many friends if you were constantly just asking for things and not giving back. It’s very important to make sure that rewarding, thanking, and recognizing your customers are a key part of your customer marketing strategy.

Have you used customer marketing to grow your business? Tell us how in the comments below.