We all know that, whether it’s a print business or any other type of business (such as your customers’ businesses), retaining customers is critical. But knowing how important it is and being able to develop and execute an effective strategy are two different things. Especially when it comes to your customers, you can’t just say, “Don’t forget to create a customer retention strategy and send us the files for the print when you’re done.” You have to guide them through it.

Here are five tips you can use to inform your customer retention strategy and the customer retention strategies of your customers.

  1. Know why they love you. How do you keep customers if you don’t know why they were drawn to you in the first place? For example, as a print business, if you think your customers buy from you because you offer them an online portal for ordering their jobs, but they actually stick with you because of your technical support, your customer retention strategies will miss the mark. Use surveys. Focus groups. Engage them in personal dialog about what drew them to you in the first place.
  2. Know what matters to them. Customers buy products that resonate with them. In fact, a recent study by Forbesfound that 60% of Millennials tend to “gravitate toward purchases that are an expression of their personality.” You may have a lot of competitors that offer 24-hour turnarounds, web portals, and extended gamut printing, for example, but if you also have a strong environmental story to tell and your competitors don’t, there are certain clients (especially younger ones) who will be loyal to you because they like being aligned with a print supplier that shares their values in that area.
  3. Make it personal. A recent study finds that more than half (51%) of customers say they are more likely to make a purchase when the marketing content is personalized. Guess what? That includes marketers, designers, and print buyers, too. Not only are your customers going to respond to personalized communications just as their customers are, but what better way to know them the value of personalized content than to use it in your own? But do it well! The last thing you want to do is roll out a poorly conceived and poorly executed strategy.
  4. Be authentic. Especially when it comes to the younger generation, authenticity matters. A lot. In the B2C environment, TOMS is great at this—communicating with customers based on their values and with an authenticity that connects. Printers can do it, too. Use natural language (not stilted marketing-ese). Tell real stories about real people. In your newsletters, blog, and your web copy, talk about what you are doing to walk out your company’s values, such as having “volunteer days” to support nonprofit causes or making sure that your employees get health screenings and vaccinations. Let customers see how your company’s values and culture fit into theirs.
  5. Don’t “just sell.” Be a print supplier that communicates with its customers on a regular basis, not just when you want them to buy something. This part of being genuine and authentic and integrating into their culture as well. Make your customers feel that you care about them enough to communicate with them beyond “let us print your stuff.”

It’s easy to talk customer retention when talking to your customers. But how well do you do this yourself?  

This post was initially inspired by reporting in Target Marketing magazine on Lifetime Customer Value (LCV) from a B2C perspective. It’s a great read—check it out