Save $150 on the Udemy “Smarter Branding For Startups” online class on how to create a powerful brand – without spending a lot of money.
By Brenda Bence (Instructor, Udemy)

Maybe you’ve heard the saying, “Make new friends, but keep the old… one is silver and the other gold?” Well, when you’re running your own business, these “old friends” are your existing customers. Just how golden are they?

Studies show that it costs six to nine times as much to attract a new customer as it costs to keep an existing customer happy.

This concept can directly impact your bottom line. Think of this way: If you have $100 to spend on marketing, would you rather spend it on a customer who already believes in you, who has had a positive experience with your brand, and who is likely to buy your products and services again? Or would you rather spend $600 to $900 to possibly win over a customer who doesn’t know anything about you, who may or may not like your offering, and who may never buy? It’s a no-brainer.

So, how do you keep your existing customers happy? If there’s one thing social media has taught us, it’s that successful branding is all about building two-way relationships. Gone are the days of the one-way conversation when marketers talked “at” customers. Today, consumers expect a dialogue.

You already know that social media can be a powerful low-cost way to get that dialogue going, but here are a few additional ways you can “go for the gold” and get closer to your customers. Big corporations spend millions on these kinds of activities, but smart small business owners don’t have to. You can get the same big bang for your buck – sometimes without spending a buck at all.

Create a simple survey.

Free online survey creators like let you develop surveys online for free and find out what your customers really think about your products or services. You can ask all sorts of questions that will help you serve your customers better. What unmet needs do they have that you could potentially fill, turning them into customers for life?

Hold a “focus group.”

Invite a handful of your best customers for dinner, and suddenly, you’ve got yourself an informal focus group. Work some questions into the conversation to get feedback on what’s working and what isn’t. Or get a few customers to try out a new product or service for free, and have them tell you what they think.

Keep track of personal information.

To keep information about your key customers, all it takes is a simple, low-cost database using software you probably already have on your computer like Outlook or Excel. What information? Birthdays, anniversaries, children’s names – whatever makes sense for your type of business. If you touch base with your customers on important dates, for example, you’re bound to develop the kind of relationship that creates long-term brand loyalty.

Schedule an event.

If you have a company event, don’t forget to invite your most important customers. Don’t you love it when you’re invited to a party?

Offer unexpected thanks.

Have a “customer appreciation day” where you do nothing but send thank you notes (digital or hand-written) to your best clients, letting them know how much you value their business.

Ask for referrals.

Faithful customers are usually quite happy to refer you to their friends, family members, and colleagues who might benefit from what you have to offer. But you have to ask. And the best time to ask is right after a customer has had a great experience with your brand.

Offer an incentive for referrals.

Show your appreciation with a discount, a finder’s fee or a gift. These incentives might cost you a little money, but you don’t have to spend a lot. Plus, think about what you gain for your investment. If you get new loyal customers out of it, your return on investment is high.

Completely new customers are important, too, but the customers already buying your brand are the lowest-hanging fruit when it comes to brand building. Be sure to go for the gold.

Editor’s note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below.
About the guest blogger: Brenda Bence is the award-winning author of four branding books including Smarter Branding Without Breaking the Bank, the definitive guide to building a brand that is big on results but low on cost. After years as a mega-brander building household name brands for consumers giants across four continents, Brenda started her own company, Brand Development Associates International (BDA). Now with offices in the U.S. and Asia, BDA serves clients across six continents and 30 countries. Brenda travels the world helping individuals and companies achieve greater success through creative yet practical brand development. Visit