New Customers are Great, But Don't Forget Your Old Ones


I recall speaking with a client about the launch of their ad campaign. Their business had been doing well and the company decided to ramp things up a bit and become more aggressive. As I reviewed their strategy for their campaign, I began to inquire about their target audience. They indicated that they were going after top earners in some of the most affluent neighborhoods in their area. In fact, they were prepared to dedicate more than 80% of their marketing budget to do so. What will happen with the remaining 20%? They indicated that they would target their core customer with the amount left over.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. This company was looking to grow; however, they thought that growth could be achieved by chasing pie-in-the-sky customers while virtually ignoring their existing customer base. You see, the success for this company was created by its huge cache of “average” customers – not multimillionaires. In effect, these guys pushed their bread and butter customer aside as they actively pursued a huge payoff.

Let’s clarify. It’s not wrong to go after new customers. However, it’s vital to know the value of the “bird in the hand”.

Look at the following and think about how you’re using your marketing budget:

Bonus CustomerYour bonus customer will be the person that shows up out of nowhere and makes a substantial purchase. If you’re like most small businesses, you begin to hope that every customer will be like this one. In response to this apparition, many will shift their marketing from their core to this rare customer – not understanding that this particular buyer may not be back again. Be sober in your thinking; only allocate a small portion of your resources for the bonus customer. After all, they are just a bonus (as the name implies). So place them third in line with respect to your marketing efforts.

Seasonal CustomerSeasonal customers (for most businesses) stop in once or twice a year. Though they may not account for the lion’s share of your revenue, it’s quite likely that they are the very reason you can push past the break-even point. Make them a second-tier priority and reserve at least a quarter of your budget to target this important group.

Bread and Butter CustomerCore customers are easy to indentify; they’re the ones that, literally, keep your lights on. These individuals will most likely account for 50 – 70% of your overall revenue.  If you look closely, you’re likely to find common ground among those in this group. They may share: a certain neighborhood, income level, age range, marital status, world-view, education and more. It’s up to you to figure out who they are so that you can market yourself in a more focused way. Remember, this group is your core; if they go away you cease to exist. No other group should receive more marketing attention than this one.

Walter Dailey is a marketing speaker and proven creative strategist. He’s the lead consultant and executive producer for Dailey Sound Vector Media, a creative services organization that specializes in jingles, radio ads and marketing campaign development for small businesses throughout the US.  Ask Walter your questions at