I'm sure you know by now that increasing your repeat customer base is the easiest way to increase your bottom line. Period.

Smart businesses that are able to leverage their existing efforts generate more income from less work. It's part of working on your business instead of in it.

You've already invested in the customers you have, so it just takes a few simple strategies (that you may be doing already!) to get those customers to come back and buy from you over and over again.

Focus on repeat business and get more for your customer acquisition investment.

When it comes to marketing and generating more revenue, I find that most business owners are focused outward.

They've carefully established and segmented their target market and created specific offers and messages for each market segment. They spend thousands of dollars in advertising and direct mail campaigns in hot pursuit of more leads, more customers, and more foot traffic.

Now, don't get me wrong. This is an effective way to build a business. However, it can be costly and time consuming. It requires constant and consistent effort, which generates great results, but in order to keep generating results you have to keep putting in the effort. Plus, at the end of the day you're spending money every time a sale gets rung through the till or contract is signed.

A repeat business strategy means focusing inward - on the customers you have already converted. You've paid to acquire their business, so it's worth a little extra effort to maximize that investment and get that customer to come back and purchase again.

Cultivating repeat business is a smart move because you're leveraging time and money that you've already spent.

Here's how you can do it for your business:

1. Find out what your customers want.

In many ways, you've already done this step. You've completed some thorough target market research and continue to review your customer's purchasing patterns. You also continuously test and measure your marketing copy so that you are sure to tap into their motivations and emotional triggers.

To go a step further, you need to find out what they need from and think about their experience with your business. You need to figure out what is important to them and what they may not care about.

Here are some ways you can do this:

  • Conduct a survey of your existing customers. Create a short customer service feedback survey and ask all your customers to complete it. You can easily do this through online survey programs or hand out in-store cards. You may need to provide an incentive for customers to fill it out - like 10% off their next purchase, or a chance to win a prize. Keep the survey short – no more than 10 questions.

  • Cultivate meaningful relationships with your customers. If it is appropriate, nurture a social relationship with your clients. Take them out to lunch or dinner, or a sports game. In these relaxed environments, you'll be able to easily learn new things about your customer that will show you how you can go above and beyond their expectations.

  • Go to trade shows and industry events that matter to your customers. This will give you insight into what your competition is doing, as well as what products or services your customers are interested in. Remember that if your customers are keenly interested in a topic - like the environment, for example - that is not directly related to your business, you may also benefit from attending.

  • Keep on top of trends and anticipate needs. Keep on top of trends in your industry so you can stay up to speed and on par with the competition. Also, if you follow what your customers are doing - if, for example, they're athletes or high-powered businessmen - you'll be able to anticipate their needs.

  • Always ask for suggestions and feedback. Provide an ongoing place where your customers can provide their feedback or suggestions in an anonymous form. Review these cards regularly and make changes and improvements where possible.

2. Give your customers what they want.

Now that you have cultivated a greater understanding of what matters to your customer base, you can start giving it to them! Here are some general suggestions for ways you can enhance your customer's experience.

Remember to take their feedback and incorporate it wherever possible. Don't be afraid of getting creative - unique touches will make sure your business will be remembered and revisited.

Here are some guidelines for enhancing your customer service:

  • Everything you do should be customer-driven. The service the customer receives is exactly how they would like to be treated when buying your product or service. It is reflective of your target market, and appropriate to their lifestyle.

  • Make your customer's life as easy as possible. Your customers are coming to you for a solution to their problem or need. They're coming to you to make their lives easier, so go a step further than just providing the product or service they need. Make it nearly effortless for the customer to spend money at your place of business.

  • Be consistent with your products and services. The standards you establish for customer service need to be maintained by every person in your organization. Same goes for every product in your business. Expectations should be clear and followed through on. When customers know what to expect (and are happy with the service), they will choose your business because they trust that you have their best interests in mind. They want their buying experience to be risk and surprise-free.

Ideas for giving your customer more than they expected:

Adding value to your business is an effective way of getting your customers to come back. Every person I know would choose a mattress store that offered free delivery over one that did not. It's that simple.

Value added services generate repeat customers in one of two ways:

  • Impress them on their first visit.