When it comes to selling advertising, retaining clients is one of the easiest ways for magazine publishers to ensure revenue stability. As most organizations have experienced, it’s cheaper to retain clients than it is to identify, attract and sell to new clients.
In addition to providing consistent revenue, veteran clients provide publishers a valuable feedback loop on what’s working for them. This, in turn, will help you leverage their successes to win new advertising clients who need a “prove it” when choosing where they will spend their advertising dollars.
And, of course, if you’re getting it right and keeping your advertising customers happy, you will most likely win new advertisers through positive word-of-mouth referrals.
So, what are some keys to retaining your advertising clients? Here are a few best practices.
Say thank you and I’m sorry
We’ll start with an easy one—always say thank you to show appreciation and always apologize when a mistake is made or a miscommunication occurs. These two gestures are not only easy to do, but they also go a long way to show that you’re grateful and to soothe hurt feelings. On the flipside, it’s easy to lose customers if you leave these phrases out of your customer experience loop.
Make it convenient
Whenever possible, make interactions easy and convenient for your customers. Think about the ways that your clients spend their time dealing with you. Is there something that you could do just a little bit differently to save on time or improve your interactions? Could you be more responsive to emails or be more widely available via text versus just phone calls? Is there a way for clients to easily change their ads in your publication without a lot of back and forth? When it comes to working together and building relationships, making it easy for the customer makes it easy for them to continue working with you.
Embrace your brand values
Part of your brand values are tone and voice for external communications. If you’ve chosen to be friendly and approachable, be sure to lead with these adjectives in all of your interactions with your customers. Even the most difficult or frustrating situations can be made better if you respond in a consistent way both in action and in voice.
Leave a positive mark
Every interaction you have with a customer is an opportunity to make a positive impression. Never let an opportunity pass you by, even if it’s a short exchange. Think of how you might make even the most mundane conversations better. Maybe you could add a funny quote to the end of an email, or tell a lighthearted joke at the end of a phone call. Even occasionally asking, ‘Hey is there anything that we could be doing better?’ shows that you’re invested in putting them first and leading with positivity.
Create referral programs
Reward your clients by referring other companies and businesses to you through a referral program. You can choose how to incentivize current customers, but some publishers will offer a discounted advertising rate that is tiered depending on the number of referrals. Other ideas are gift certificates to local businesses or experiences – like a guided tour of a local winery, brewery or a weekend getaway at a popular resort. The possibilities are plenty, so be sure to understand your advertising customer base so you know what would be most appealing and motivating to them.
Know your audience
The better you know your clients, the easier it will be to provide a customer experience that is wrapped in good interactions. Knowing your audience allows you to understand their needs, pain points and interests, which in turn allows you to do most everything better—from changing up their ad copy to working together to drive business their way to finding incentives for your referral programs.
Show them what they get—with examples
There’s no better way to keep an advertising customer happy than to show them how hard your publication will work for their ad. Consider adding digital value to your print advertisements so that the value of their ad space will go beyond your pages. You can even make sure that your website is a place where advertisers are showcased, adding another layer of exposure for their brand. If you have success stories of advertisements that have done particularly well or if you have ways that clients have measured their return on investment with you, be sure to share those as well. In the end, if you have ways to build on your interpersonal connection, it will be hard for clients to discontinue advertising with you.
Surprise them with a smile
Consider a handwritten note of appreciation or a gift for an otherwise un-noteworthy day, like the second Wednesday of the month. If you can surprise your current clients with something that will make them stop and appreciate the relationship they’ve built with you, you’re on the right track. If your publication focuses on gardening, consider sending a starter spring gardening kit with a few of the essentials. Or if you are focused on a specific city, write up a list of the newest and best spots to try around town. There are easy ways to show clients that you appreciate them without spending a lot or going over the top.
Retaining clients allows you the opportunity to focus in on what you have instead of only looking to bring in new business, which can be an exhausting enterprise all on its own. If you prioritize your current clients, you’ll often see a higher return on the investment of your time and energy, a strategy that ultimately leads back to a better bottom line.