To Protect and Serve
By Alan Rosenspan, Alan Rosenspan & Associates

“To Protect and Serve” is the objective of law enforcement agencies all over the world. And it’s more than just a motto; these are people who are willing to risk their lives to save you.

I suggest that in this ragged economy, marketers must adopt a similar motto when it comes to their customers.

Today, consumers and businesses are taking a long hard look at the companies they work with, and asking questions like:

Do we really need this product or service?
Is it worth the money?
Is there a better alternative out there?

So the customers you currently have – the ones you may be taking for granted – are now more vulnerable than ever before. What can you do to better “protect and serve” them?

As you can imagine, I have a number of suggestions.

1. Stay in contact. Not just to sell them stuff, but to keep your name in front of them, and to demonstrate your commitment to their business. A survey is a great way to do this – since you are asking them what you can to improve your service to them.

You’ll get a great response; good reactions even from those who don’t respond (“they really care about my opinion”) and it may even identify customers who may be at risk.

2. Show them you understand. Times are tough for everyone; think of something you can do to make things easier for your customers. Can you offer them a better price? Better terms? Can you add something that may not cost you much, but will save them money? All of these things will be appreciated by your customers.

At the very least, make sure to tell them you understand. You might even begin your next direct mail letter or e-mail with something like, “We’re all under a lot of pressure in this economy. That’s why our company is offering you…”

3. Make them feel valued. Mary Kay built her multi-billion dollar cosmetic business based on a simple idea. “Everyone has an invisible sign hanging around his or her neck. It says ‘Make me feel important.”

The more you make your customers feel important, the more likely they are to stay with you – even during difficult economic times.

4. Don’t run. Don’t hide. Tempting as it might be, this is no time to cut your marketing budget. However, this is the perfect time to weed out things that don’t work, and to increase things that do.

It’s not just smart to do everything you can to hold on to your existing customers; it also makes good financial sense. When I ran the campaign to win back customers who had left AT&T, we found that it cost us over ten times as much to win back a customer as it did to keep them.

So remember: “Protect and Serve” almost always leads to “Protect and Serve and Sell

Ironically, just as your customers are more vulnerable these days, so are everyone else’s. And we’ll discuss how to take advantage of that in the next issue of DM Advisor.

---Source: Alan Rosenspan, president of Alan Rosenspan and Associates. Email him at










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