Use Past Customers to Thrive in Uncertain Times

by Emily Blackburn

Whenever there’s a drastic change in circumstances, it’s always helpful as a business owner to take a step back and evaluate your current situation. Do an analysis of  your business’ strengths and weaknesses, as well as your opportunities and threats; check your financials, review your goals. In doing so, however,  you might miss one of your most valuable assets – your current and past customers.

Far too often, they are one of the more underrated resources/assets in your business. However, now, more than ever, you need to harness the incredible profit potential in your customer database.

Your current and past customers have the ability to deliver repeat and referral business. These are your best leads to close quickly and profitably, which will help your business rebound as the economy opens back up.

Your customers aren’t just going to call you up and start listing off their friends, family and neighbors you should call. You must keep in touch with them. Stay top of mind, develop a relationship with them, and then, when you ask for their help, they will deliver.

Here are just a few ways to nurture your relationships with critically valuable past customers right now in order to generate leads today:


As the easiest and most efficient, not to mention least expensive, way to connect with your customers, email is a no-brainer. Your customers should be hearing from you via email at least once a week. Of course, you don’t want to just email them and ask for something.

Connect with them; let them know how you can help them during this time. Perhaps you can share some sanitizing tips, how they can maintain their home without making a trip to the hardware store, or where to find resources in the local community.

By making this connection, especially during trying times, your customers will be more likely to remember you when they or their friends, family or neighbors have a need in the future.

Don’t be tempted to only use email. Cheap and easy doesn’t do the whole job. Even though right now we are seeing increases in email open rates and engagement, email alone only hits a small percentage of the intended audience.

That’s why a winning past customer strategy must also include direct mail… yes, paper, ink and stamps.


With your customers spending more time than ever at home, it’s a wonderful time for direct mail. Our clients consistently deliver print newsletters by mail to their customer base (at least once every three months). It’s a way of telling your customers you value them while staying top of mind. It also provides the opportunity to ask for referrals in a neighborly way.

Your newsletter shouldn’t be all about you. It should focus on your customers. Give them entertaining content that’s fun to read while eating at the kitchen table – something that will stick around on the counter for weeks, maybe even months. Make it engaging and offer your customers benefits to engaging with you, whether it’s trivia or a reward for referring your company to their friends, family and neighbors.

Remember, your profitability will be in direct proportion to the value you provide your customers. A company newsletter done right can be one of the most powerful tools in your marketing arsenal.

Reactivation Campaigns for Past Customers

If you’re like most contractors, there are customer relationships that have become dormant. They haven’t heard from you in six or more months, and you’re likely one of the last things on their minds. Now is the perfect opportunity to change that.

As mentioned, direct mail is a perfect medium to use right now. It is even more necessary when attempting to “reactivate” those customers who haven’t heard from you in some time.

With this group, just showing up with a generic offer will likely produce poor results. Instead, this audience needs a story that will pull them in. Remind them of who you are, the solutions you provide and how you helped them in the past.

Here, all elements of direct marketing are necessary:

  • a compelling headline,
  • “you and your” benefit copy, and
  • a strong offer.

Make sure whatever you send out has the items above, a picture of a real human being and an offer. Many of our clients are using same-as-cash offers of 12 and even 18 months in their marketing.

By the way, this is a great strategy for demo, no-sale prospects in your database. We’re advising our clients to go back through three to six months of people you’ve made a presentation to and run the same reactivation program on them. Ideally, you would follow up any mail you send out with a phone call. We find that this can increase the effectiveness and profitability of direct mail campaigns by three to five times.

A warning: it’s much harder to reactivate an ignored or neglected customer than one you’ve stayed in regular contact with. Don’t underestimate the work you’ll have to do.

Keep Keeping in Touch

Lastly, don’t let this be a one-time thing. This is your wake-up call. Simply knocking on random doors and chasing new leads every day leaves you and your company vulnerable to circumstances in the marketplace.

Instead, strategically and systematically showing up in your customers’ homes and on their computers and phones regularly will help you build a solid base of customers who will continue to buy from you and market for you. That’s something a pandemic can’t wipe out.

Brian Kaskavalciyan is the co-founder of gFour Marketing Group, the host of The Wealthy Contractor Podcast and the author of The 7 Secrets to Becoming a Wealthy Contractor. Brian will be one of the speakers at our upcoming Top500 LIVE event in New Orleans, November 2-4.



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