Al’s Column: How to market successfully after the sale

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November 7/14, 2016: Volume 31, Number 11

By Greg Incardona

According to a Small Business Trends report in 2016, 85% of a retailer’s new business comes from referrals. Most small businesses know it is easier to sell to a referred customer. Despite these statistics, many businesses send only thank you notes and never contact their customers again—unless they have a sale. Their commitment to customers gets lost after the initial transaction.

Is sending a thank you note enough for a customer who has made a purchase from your business? Will it keep her coming back to your store for her next purchase? How will you get consumers to remember or refer you unless you are constantly connecting with them?

These are clearly rhetorical questions. In order to build your referral database, you must stay in front of your customers so they will remember the customer service and follow-up they received. This won’t happen by accident; it will only happen with a well-planned marketing strategy.

Furthermore, independent industry research says 35% of foot traffic will buy on the spot and 65% leave to “think about something” or “talk to someone” (we often refer to these consumers as “be backs”). The real issue to consider is the 65% who leave to “think about it” are buying flooring somewhere. Since it’s possible customers who leave without buying are likely shopping your competitors, it is wise to think of ways to get them into your database so you can connect with them in a timely manner. This may eventually divert them from purchasing at the competition.

I get it—everyone is busy and following up can be sometimes difficult. But it has to start with a plan. How should you segment your database? How do you determine how often to send communication? Should you send emails, cards, postcards, invitations or newsletters? Perhaps a combination thereof? What do you say in your correspondence?

To answer these questions, I strongly recommend you come up with a road map, an action plan to market to your customers. As you develop that plan, keep the following goal in mind: You should want a customer for life. Many times, the only way to achieve that goal is to build a trusting relationship. You’ve heard it before: People buy from those they know, like or trust. They know you because they bought from you, but you must work to get them to like and trust you and turn them into a customer for life.

Before you sit down to devise an after-sale marketing plan, you need to first determine your target customers and why they are important. For example, determine what traits they must have before you can consider them a prospect. After further evaluation, you will understand the importance of your prospect as they are the real targets for increasing your business. Turning your prospects into customers—and then staying in touch periodically with those customers—will go a long way in securing that coveted referral business.


Greg Incardona is vice president of Follow Your Customer, a marketing strategy firm. He is scheduled to deliver a presentation at TISE titled “Case Study: Why After-Sale Marketing Will Save Your Business” on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Visit

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