I have heard it takes 10 times more resources to gain a new customer than to serve an existing one.
However, not all existing customers are equal. The 80:20 rule applies here, as with everything else. 80% of your sales will come from 20% of your customers. Which 20% though?
It is important to know. You could be spending valuable resources on a customer who appears important but is not. I’m not suggesting you neglect any customer, because a customer is a customer, but find out the important ones and lavish some attention on them (subtly – let’s not spook them!).
You need to turn your most important customers into established customers. This means establishing a relationship with them, so gradually they rely on you just as much as you rely on them.
Established customers are the best kind of customer. They repeat buy. You can often track their purchases helping you to predict demand. They may even bring an order forward to help you smooth a temporary glitch in sales. If you have a good relationship with them, they may even say nice things about you. This is far more valuable then any marketing communication tool I know.
Just as importantly, once you know who the good ones are, you can profile them and get more of them.