As an economic development organization, you are tasked with the vital mission of attracting and retaining businesses in your community. You work tirelessly to establish your community as an attractive place to do business by promoting the key attributes your prospects need for successful operations.
Attracting new business is crucial, but gaining new prospects isn’t enough—you must actively give your current businesses a reason to maintain continued interest in your community by building and nurturing long-term relationships. To successfully retain existing customers, your EDO should leverage its marketing funnel to create a strategy that not only attracts new businesses but keeps current customers invested in your organization.
Retention is one of the most crucial aspects of the marketing funnel and vital to a successful marketing strategy.
Attraction vs. Retention
It’s important to understand the difference between attracting new businesses and retaining existing ones. While focusing on attracting business means reaching out to and gaining the interest of a pool of prospects, your goal in the retention phase of the marketing funnel is to bring awareness to your organization and community and maintain existing relationships. As we have focused on attracting new business in our previous blogs (link to News & Insights / blogs), we will turn our attention to retaining businesses through continuous communication and outreach, relationship maintenance, personalized service, and ongoing strategic marketing strategy.
Maintain Communication with Your Customers
To retain businesses, it’s essential to maintain an open line of communications throughout the customer lifecycle. Your team should check in periodically—reach out via phone, email, or in-person—to see if there have been any changes or improvements, stay up-to-date on what’s going on within the business, and see if any assistance is needed from your organization. Be sure to ask questions, gain insight, and learn what your businesses need to find continued success.
Having an open-door policy can also help you build trust and allows businesses to feel comfortable reaching out to you when they need help or advice. Personal connections let your businesses know they are vital parts of your community. Speaking to existing businesses isn’t just valuable, it also shows prospects that you are fully committed to their success before and after they have established in your community.
Provide Exceptional, Individualized Service
Another key component of business retention is providing exceptional customer service. Your team should focus on building individualized services tailored to each unique business’s needs while also providing general services such as assistance with financing or resources needed to get started/expand their business. For example, your team needs to be knowledgeable about local regulations so they can guide business owners in understanding what laws may affect their operations in the area. By providing these services, you show businesses, both current and prospective, that you are invested in their success and willing to help every step of the way.
Continue Promoting and Educating Your Businesses
It’s also crucial to continue your marketing efforts by creating valuable and relevant content to highlight opportunities and advantages in your community and remind businesses about how your organization assists businesses. Stay active on your social media channels, create updates in your monthly e-blast, blog posts, and news articles, keep your web content current, host events such as workshops or seminars that provide education and networking opportunities to entrepreneurs in your area, and even create a vlog or video series to feature the successes and developments in your community and host local businesses and entrepreneurs. This will show potential and current business owners that you are invested in their success.
Retaining existing businesses is essential for the success of your organization and your community, so it’s important to have an effective marketing funnel system in place that can help you focus on creating awareness about your organization’s mission, providing exceptional customer service tailored towards individual needs, and maintaining communication throughout each customer’s lifecycle. By following these tips on business retention, you can ensure that your EDO has a successful retention strategy for your community!
Want to build a comprehensive marketing strategy for your existing businesses or looking to create content targeted toward business retention? We offer a range of services to help you speak to your businesses, from social media and digital marketing to copywriting and public relations.