In the ongoing push to attract new prospects, generate leads and nurture leads into new business, firms can fail to exert the proper amount of focus, time and effort on existing clients. But like all relationships, clients deserve ongoing development and nurturing.

Yet, it’s a well-known fact that it’s much less expensive to keep an existing client than it is to gain a new one. And for many firms—especially services firms that sell to other businesses or organizations—existing clients represent a substantial portion of their overall revenue AND future pipeline.

So while attracting new clients is obviously an important goal of marketing and business development, nurturing and further developing existing clients should also be part of your ongoing efforts. Here are a few “client nurturing” ideas that could help your client development:

1. Get out and talk to your clients

Everyone understands how valuable and important it is to have face-time with your clients. But with the busy-ness of the work week and a packed schedule of new business meetings, it’s not always easy to make time to regularly go out and meet with existing clients. And while talking to clients might seem more like a sales or business development activity, if conducted properly, face-to-face client meetings can also strengthen relationships.

In addition to checking the pulse of the relationship and discussing existing projects or engagements, client meetings should also serve as an opportunity to gain valuable intel from your clients. Ask open-ended questions. What’s keeping them up at night? What challenges or opportunities are they facing?  Marketing and business development teams can gain rich insights when you listen more and talk less.

2. Consider clients when developing your editorial calendar

We’ve previous stressed the importance of creating content for every stage of the customer lifecycle. Remember, the end goal of your marketing is not to turn prospects into clients; the end goal is to turn prospects into evangelists. So as you plan your content, consider the topics that would specifically be of interest to existing clients. Make the mission of your blog to be a destination, not just for new prospects and leads, but existing clients as well.

3. Host “clients only” webinars and events

While webinars and other events are often used for new business development, they can also be used to nurture existing client relationships. Take a topic you’ve identified in your editorial calendar and consider developing a webinar or seminar on that topic and extending the invitation to existing clients only. Let your clients know that you’ve geared it specifically for them in an effort to keep them informed of the latest trends, best practices or industry issues. In-person “client appreciation” events are also a great for client development and provide a way to get in front of clients, while showing them some love along the way.

4. Create an on-boarding drip campaign for new clients

Take a page from the B2C world and consider creating a multi-touchpoint drip campaign for new clients as part of your on-boarding process. Similar to how you would plan out a lead nurturing campaign, consider the type of content and information that new clients would find useful and schedule a series of targeted emails. One of those emails could be a brief survey asking them to rate their level of satisfaction so far or to identify any issue that needs to be addressed. No news isn’t always good news, so the more you can engage new clients at the beginning of the relationship, the better opportunity you will have to keep them in the long run.

5. Talk about your clients on social media

This should go without saying, but your clients’ success should be your success. So take the opportunity to brag on your clients (not brag on what you’ve done for your clients) on your social media channels. Share their wins, their accolades and their content. Retweet. @mention. Like. Share. Link to. This will speak loudly to your clients (and potential clients) that you are invested in and energized by their success.

6. Create client-centric case studies

The emphasis is on “client-centric.” Many case studies are so company-focused, they do a great job of telling what work you did for the client, but not necessarily what your work did for the client. But with case studies, there is a great opportunity to emphasize shared success. While highlighting your work along the way, the end goal and the client’s success should always be the focal point. Think about creating a case study that your clients are not only willing to, but are actually eager to, share with their clients. That should a motivating factor.

7. Communicate regularly

To underscore the emphasis on communicating and talking to clients, I’ve circled back to this idea. Regular, consistent, intentional communication with your clients is absolutely critical. This includes face-to-face meetings (remember #1), check-in calls and web conferences, email communication, etc. Just like your personal relationships, regular and beyond-surface level communication is a vital ingredient to the ongoing health of the relationship. And here’s a sobering reminder: if you’re not taking the time to talk to your clients, chances are your competitors are. Don’t be out of their sight, or you may find you’re out of their mind.

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It’s easy to become so consumed with the latest prospect that you ignore or neglect the existing client right in front of you. It happens, but its not going to help you in your quest for long-term, profitable client relationships. While you focus on lead generation and lead nurturing, don’t forget to nurture clients along the way.

The way consumers are researching and buying products has shifted significantly in recently years. Consumers have taken control of their purchase process. With websites, blogs, Facebook updates, online reviews and more, they use almost twice as many sources of information to make decisions as they did in the past. They know what they want to purchase, when they want to purchase it, and they resent any attempt to force-feed them messages. Because of this dramatic shift, the traditional marketing funnel paradigm is being replaced.

The Customer Lifecycle

The new paradigm for marketing is the customer lifecycle that places customer needs, not business needs, at the forefront. The customer lifecycle considers the overall experience that a customer has with a brand and how that contributes to loyalty (or not). It also better reflects the ability of each individual to influence the purchase decisions of others to an unparalleled extent. The lifecycle illustrates the fact that the consumer journey is not a linear path. Today, consumers flow easily across stages in an iterative cycle.


In this stage, consumers discover an unmet need. They begin to think about a relatively narrow set of products and services that might meet this need. Most consumers start their decision process with brands they are already familiar with.


In the next stage, consumers begin to actively explore and evaluate their options. The consumer is intent on purchasing. They begin to explore on the Internet, research options, read reviews, and pay closer attention to advertisements and promotions. In this stage, it is critical for brands to ensure that review and comparison information is widely available.


The third stage of the process involves the consumer’s decision and actual purchase. Consumers tend to make their purchases in the most convenient channel.


In the Engage stage, consumers engage with the product or service they’ve purchased. The experience that consumers have during this stage determines loyalty and whether positive or negative feedback is shared via reviews and social media. They may also engage with customer service or a user community to receive support. Consumer activity during this stage can also help companies identify other potential needs.


During the Advocate stage, consumers share their experiences of the product or service with others. They may do this through reviews, social media or direct word of mouth. Companies can encourage this by providing invectives to consumers to provide reviews.


What do Pandora, Netflix and Amazon all have in common? All three are world-class “segmenters.”

– Brian Halligan, CEO and Co-Founder of HubSpot

Another significant change in marketing is a growing understanding of how consumer behavior is increasingly varied, even within the same demographic segments. This has given rise to the concept of microsegments. Microsegments represent a more precise slice of a market and are typically identified through advanced technology and analytics techniques. Microsegments contain fewer consumers which allows for highly personalized predictive analysis and marketing optimization.

For years, marketers used demographic segments–not because this was the optimal approach but simply because demographic data was the only data readily available. Today, digital touchpoints provide much more information about consumer behavior, and this data can be combined with demographic data to create microsegments. For an example of the limitations associated with traditional demographic segmentation, see the illustration below comparing two individuals with similar demographic profiles.

Customer Analytics

Once marketers have defined microsegments, they can use quantitative and qualitative analysis to understand how each microsegment behaves at each stage of the customer lifecycle. Marketing investments can be allocated where they will have the greatest impact.

For example, consider the hypothetical case of a company that has made significant investments in its website and website content updates. By using data to better understand its most valuable microsegments, the company finds that only a small percentage actually visit the website during the customer lifecycle. Instead, the company finds that these consumers tend to visit online review and comparison sites during the Explore stage. The company is then able to shift resources from the website to content provided to comparison sites. Better product images, information and reviews have a significant impact on the purchase decisions of these microsegments, and the company experiences a near-term revenue increase.

One of the most powerful ways that data and analytics can be used in modern marketing is in helping marketers define microsegments and then analyze the behavior of these microsegments during each stage of the customer lifecycle. The insights gained from this analysis provide a strategic overview and roadmap for marketing that guides activities and investments and helps deliver significant financial results.

The temptation for anyone working on a promotional strategy for a new product or sales campaign is to shortcut the important planning and strategy steps and jump to tactics.

It usually starts with the boss asking something like, “We need more leads FAST. Can we do a [Fill In Trendy Viral Tactic Here]?”

Yes, it’s important for marketers to be agile and quickly pivot when new needs or opportunities arise, but if we only focus on short-term tactics we risk negatively impacting the program’s long-term success.

If you want your promotional strategy to hit a target you need to know where to aim.

Step 1: Start with your buyer, their needs and challenges

It’s important to think about the buyer both as an individual, and how they are impacted by other challenges within their organization. When you understand WHY they are looking for a solution, it’s a lot easier to work on HOW you can attract them.
If you haven’t put together a buyer persona for your target buyer, this is the first place you should start.

Step 2: Don’t skip the creative brief

Yes, it’s easy to assume that everyone understands the project, but too many times this isn’t the case. Be sure everyone working on the project understands a few important facts.

  • What is the quantifiable goal you are trying to achieve?
  • Who is the target audience and what are their motivations?
  • What does your buyer think about the product or service now?
  • What do you want them to think?
  • Why should they, what are the proof points that will back up the message being developed?
  • What is the personality that your campaign needs to bring across

Working with an extended team is always easier when you have a plan.

Step 3: Think across channels and tactics

Sometimes senior leadership will ask for specific marketing tactics. These can be the right ones, but it’s also possible that others are a better fit. Your promotional strategy needs to be channel neutral. Maybe a social media contest really is the right fit, but it’s also possible that other promotions like content marketing or even pay-per-click could be better.

Step 4: Have a plan for engagement and nurturing

Many marketers have trouble thinking beyond awareness and website traffic building. While these are critical, it’s more important to think about what happens next. Be sure your plan includes how visitors can be engaged to become leads and nurtured to become sales-ready conversations. Your management team will be much happier talking about sales pipelines rather than just looking at site traffic stats (as awesome as those may be).

Step 5: Know how you will measure success

This last step may be the most important of all. Understand how you will measure success before you get started with any campaign. This includes taking baseline measurements before the campaign, monitoring throughout the campaign and reporting the results afterwards. Having quantifiable results will do wonders for getting management behind you for your next campaign.

Building out a solid promotional strategy takes a lot of thinking and work, but if you follow a few best practice steps at the beginning, the outcome will provide better results at the end of the campaign.