It’s no secret that COVID-19 has caused huge strains on businesses around the globe. Over a year and a half in, the seemingly insurmountable challenges of 2020 are still the major hurdles of the day.

From shipping delays to rising operating costs, employee shortages to irate customers, times are tough, and business leadership is even tougher.

In this whirlwind of stress and strain, this central marketing question remains: do you know where your customers are?

As you draw up your growth plan for 2022, here are three customer types to prioritize.

Renewal customers

Do you know those customers who can’t seem to get enough of your brand? Consider your loyal patron a renewal customer.

Renewal customers, or repeat customers, have a substantial impact on the stability of your business. As such, this is where most of your revenue should come from — at least half of it.

In order to ensure that your true ‘brand believers’ keep coming back time and time again, it is essential to identify their patterns. How often can you reliably expect revenue from them, and at what rate? What does that sales cycle look like?

For example, you may have a customer who has just placed a big order and will not be placing a reorder for 3 years. Or you may have a customer you are servicing for maintenance and whose business you can count on month to month.

Whatever your sales cycle is, pay attention to it and tweak it accordingly. Identify and amplify processes that are making your customers happy, and remove processes that aren’t working. Ask your loyal customers for feedback — they may very well know what is and isn’t working. They are on the receiving end, after all.

Recaptured customers

When a client offboards, or a customer walks out the door, do you consider it goodbye… or just ‘see you later’?

Companies lose billions of dollars as a result of customer turnover. The reality is, however, that much of this lost business is avoidable. The trick is to keep former customers close, even when you don’t have a product or service to offer.

Customers who fade away don’t have to be written off as ‘lost causes.’ Once upon a time, these former brand patrons resonated with your brand and trusted you to meet their needs.

If you haven’t burned bridges, you might be able to convince them to trust you again, compared to gaining the trust of a completely new business. Unless you burned a bridge irrecoverably, chances are these former customers still look at your company fondly.

In order to strategize a way to recapture old customers, you must first understand why they left. Do a deep dive with complete honesty.

Ask yourself several questions to understand why customers might be walking away. Here are a few to get you started:

● How is our price point? Is it too high or too low?
● Is our delivery speed meeting the needs of our clientele?
● Do we have high-quality customer service?
● Are we fully meeting the needs of our customers, or only partially?
● Are we clear on who we serve and the value we provide?
● Does our messaging need to be adapted or expanded upon?

Once you understand where the gaps in your business’s systems and processes lie, you can then map out a way to solve these issues.

After you’ve clearly laid this on the table and taken steps to address the issues you’ve identified, present your new-and-improved business practices to your former customers.

Show them how your company has grown and elevated, as they have, and that you’re ready to serve them — better than ever.

Acquired customers

So, you’ve kept your current customers excited and taken former customers back under your wing. Now what? Well, in order to fully hit your revenue goals, you’ll still need to develop a strategy for acquiring new customers.

Here are some things to consider:

● Which channels will you turn to for lead generation?
● What do your marketing and sales funnels look like?
● How does your messaging look in your outreach to prospects?

Each brand is as unique as the customers who engage with it, which is why developing a fully thought-out marketing strategy is key when it comes to transforming cold leads into acquired (and hopefully one day, loyal) customers.

While acquiring customers can put your external marketing strategy to the test, the payoff is gaining long-term customers that can be your future renewal business in the future, which makes the hard work on the front-end worth the effort.

Celebrating a customer-centric 2022

Now that we’ve identified the three customer types to craft a strategy around for the new year, draw up your blueprint for revenue growth. What does success mean for your company? What would hitting your revenue goals (and profit margins) look like?

Start from that ultimate vision, and work backward as you create a roadmap from where you are now to where you want this next year. Figure out where your gaps are and how you will deal with them, and take effective, decisive action.

While the pandemic is still a looming cloud above us all, there are many actions we can take as business leaders to continue to refine, shift, and ultimately improve the way we interact with our customer base.

Start today, and let 2022 be your most customer-centric year yet, as you transform today’s connections into tomorrow’s customers.

Want to plan your best year yet? Listen to my most recent podcast episode on the Business Growth Cafe, which is all about planning for 2022 – and why you should start now!