“My goal is to get 80,000 followers on Instagram.”

A recent client comment prompted me to write a LinkedIn post that went viral. Likes, followers, pageviews, downloads: it’s tempting to focus on social metrics when doing social media marketing. The implication is so alluring: Increased brand awareness! New customers! More sales! The potential for my brand to go viral and blow up!

But these social metrics are pure vanity, and they’re disconnected from real numbers that drive growth: conversion, revenue, retention, customer lifetime value (CLV) and customer acquisition cost (CAC). ✨

LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms can be fantastic brand awareness drivers, and can be powerful marketing tools. But what actually converts customers and builds loyalty for your business? You can have great brand awareness, but if people aren’t buying, you’ve got the Emperor’s New Clothes situation going on.

In working with my clients, I counsel them to:

📌 Choose evangelists over numbers. You don’t need 80,000 followers. You need a handful of deeply loyal customers who love your brand so much, they’ll be your voluntary marketing department and evangelize your brand to their network.

📌 Be choosy. Remember that you don’t want brand awareness from anyone; you want it from that segment that deeply and disproportionately values what you offer. You can’t please all masters. Keep your brand broad to accommodate everyone, and you’ll dilute the strength of your offering. This article has more insights into why you want to target.

📌 Hyper-focus. Hone your communications strategy and message to focus solely on your ideal customers as if they’re the only ones that matter – because they are the only ones that matter. Address their acute and specific pain and how your solution helps to solve that. 

📌 Surprise & delight. If you can’t be all things to all people, you might as well be special to someone. Evaluate your best customers and what they deeply value that you offer. Focus your energies on making and delivering a promise so beyond what’s expected, they can’t help but be surprised & delighted.

📌 Build love. Once they’ve become a customer, continue to build your relationship with them. In what ways can you constantly offer value, so that you win them over and they shower you with repeat business?

You want to focus on what actually grows your business. Social media networks want you to focus on social metrics like increasing your followers or driving likes, because it makes their platforms “sticky” and keeps you engaged on their site. But it’s important to ask if those social metrics grow your business and are worth your investment. Many times, you’re chasing empty numbers that don’t materialize into sales.

Net: you want to build a community of customers who appreciate and value your offerings. If that turns out to be a small, loyal base, that’s perfectly fine. Forget the social metrics and focus on the numbers that matter – those that grow your business’ success. 

If you’re trying to grow your business – and who isn’t? – the single most effective way is actually sitting right in your customer database. It’s not rocket science. It’s also not back-breaking or mind-bending work. But it is critical to your business success and can drive increased revenue, customer satisfaction and even new business opportunities. In this post, we’ll look at some strategies that can change up your revenue stream by giving your clients something they love: good old fashioned attention.

Fellow entrepreneurs, I hear you. I know how hard it is to run and grow your business. There’s revenues to generate, billing and overhead to manage, personnel issues to wrangle, insurance and taxes to pay, bookkeeping and accounting to keep an eye on, and the many other aspects of running a business…And then there’s the actual work that you do in your business. It. can. be. exhausting.

And it goes without saying: sales probably accounts for a majority of your focus… and anxiety.

No kidding: it’s hard work getting new clients. First you’ve got to create awareness for your brand and explain why folks are better off with your service in their lives. Then you’ve got to build a connection with them; people have to find you relatable and beneficial on some level. Once you have a connection, you need to work on building preference for your services over the competition. Once they prefer you, you’ve got to close the deal and get them to purchase. And after you’ve done all that hard work, it’s rinse and repeat. As I said: hard work. Is there a shortcut to getting more business?

Beloved by business schools and marketing professors everywhere: the famous inverted Sales Funnel pyramid. Regardless the industry, all brands go through these stages of customer engagement before closing the sale.

Short answer: YES.  From all my years in advertising and marketing, I can tell you the single best way to generate more business is from your existing client base. Building customer loyalty or having a retention strategy is critical to your business success. Here’s why:

  1. Your existing customers already know your brand and your product / service;
  2. They know how terrific your offering is; and
  3. You’ve already closed them.

Boom. You’ve already done all the hard work of building brand awareness and consideration with them. They know what you can offer and chances are you worked really hard to deliver exceptional service. So it’s simply smart and easy business to circle back with them and re-engage with them.

And here are some other reasons as well:

  1. Customer service. If you care about your product – and I know you do – you should want to hear firsthand from your customers if they’re liking your service or offering. If they loved your work: awesome for you! Then you have a testimonial on your hands, which you can use on your website or in marketing materials to get new customers.  But maybe they weren’t 100% thrilled. Then you have an even more important reason to reach out:
  2. Feedback and Room for Improvement. What a great way to make your business better and to find out where you can improve on your offering. Getting feedback is something big global brands do to drive their product innovation and customer retention programs, only they spend thousands of dollars on market research and expensive consultants to get their answers. You can find ways to not only improve your offering, but maybe even expand your offering and develop new revenue streams – for free – just by checking in with your customers.
  3. Pitch new business opportunities. Re-engaging with your existing customer base means you’re opening the door for a conversation into the many other ways you might be able to help them further. They might have hired you to train their dog to stop chewing shoes, and as result: Rex doesn’t chew shoes anymore. But maybe he’s started barking at the mailman. You’ll never know unless you re-engage your customer and find out.

Alright, you say. So how should I go about doing this?  Here are some basic but highly effective ideas you can start doing right away:

  1. Set up a regular feedback schedule. Once a project ends, make a note to circle back with clients in a given time frame. Send a personalized email note or phone call to check in. Remember, this isn’t a sales pitch; it’s a discovery call. Your goal is to discover how they’re liking your services and if they have any feedback for you on your offering.  
  2. Send them something of value.  Whether it’s an article or video they’d be interested in, a newsletter about their field, or some other item that conveys useful information for them: sending your customers a quick note with something relevant to them shows them you’re you’re thinking about your customers and putting yourself in their shoes. And it keeps you and your brand top of mind to them. The key: send them something of value. We all get way too much junk mail and spam, so make sure you’re sending material that’s targeted to them and will appeal.
  3. Create a customer appreciation event. This is a great way to bring together clients in a fun environment that’s pressure-free. The dog trainer could plan a group dog-play session and picnic for families; the aesthetician could plan an after-hours champagne and mini-facial event at the salon. Not only does this have goodwill benefits for you and your brand, but you have the opportunity to interact with your clients, and maybe find out how you could be of additional service to them. Added side bonus: your clients also have the opportunity to network amongst each other, bond and make new connections. That halo effect resonates with your brand.
  4. Take them to lunch. This consistently underutilized strategy is a great way to strengthen relationships and make you top of mind for your clients. Use a quick meal as an opportunity to find out what’s new in your client’s world and build loyalty.

These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg; there are dozens of other tactics you can use to re-engage your existing customers and get more business from them. The first step starts with recognizing that you need a retention strategy and building that as part of your business.

I’m hoping these tactics are giving you ideas of how to grow your business and drive deep customer loyalty. If you have more questions about building your retention strategy and are looking for some help, I would be happy to have a deeper conversation on how I can help your business grow. I run a small agency called Magnetic Current, and we’re dedicated to helping small businesses and solopreneurs become magnetic to the people who matter to them.