More than just a book-keeper
If you’re thinking that your accounting software is there just to look after your finances, chances are you’re missing out on what it can do to grow your customer base – and improve your profit margins.
The right accounting software is a tool that can be used to benefit your business in a number of ways, and one of the most effective is increasing your customer base.
Really good software will help you harness the power of customer data, that you can use to identify trends such as seasonal fluctuations and items frequently bought together. It’ll also help you to break this information down into profiles, allowing you to isolate different groups of customers with different buying habits.
Identify your best customers
The right accounting solution will allow you to easily pinpoint who your most valuable customers are. You can develop a profile of your best customer and use that to gain more of the same. You’ve heard the 80/20 rule – that 80% of your sales come from 20% of your customers – and if there’s any truth to that, it’s vital you know who that 20% are.
Your software should:
- Help you to view customer data in several different report formats, such as the biggest spenders, the most loyal and the most frequent buyers. You can use this information to hone in on your target market, fine tune your marketing strategies and greatly improve your return on investment in the software.
- Identify customers who pay on time and those that are late or non-paying. Knowing who your most reliable customers are can eliminate time wasted on non-paying clients and focus on those who increase your cash flow. It can also streamline your processes for chasing up late paying customers. You’re looking for accounting software that features customer reporting capabilities.
Many business owners don’t realize that they can use their accounting software to create customer profiles. The right solution will help your business market more effectively and sell greater quantities to more customers.
Gaining new customers
Once you’ve identified your best customers and created a profile of your ideal buyer, it’s time to use your accounting software to get more customers of the same type. What you’ve got is information to help you refine your direct marketing efforts and develop campaigns to target likely prospects. For example, if you operate a fitness club and have recognized through your profiling that most of your customers are between the ages of 25 and 40, you can reach out with special offers to potential new customers in the same age group.
You can also use customer profiles to create more regular customers. Profiling lets you assess spending habits and use suggestive selling techniques to create a customer who buys from you more regularly.
Develop a marketing campaign
Once you’ve got a solid grip on who your customers are and what they want, you can use it to build marketing campaigns.
For instance, if you’re running a seasonal business such as a ski and snowboarding shop, you could use customer profiles to create two separate marketing campaigns:
- One for winter, targeting the people who’re looking to equip themselves for the up-coming ski season.
- Another for off-peak, where you might offer discounts and sales using the inventory of un-sold items from the winter seasons.
You can then use your accounting software to capture all the customer data you’ve gained through your marketing campaigns, which will help you to increase your customer base.
Making use of the data
With your customer base in place, make use of it by developing ways to stay in touch with them and keep them engaged in your business. Newsletters, invitations to industry events, blogs and growing your social media contacts are all great ways you can use the information in your customer database to connect with your customers. What usually happens as a result is that your customers will tell others about you, further increasing your customer base.
So don’t fall in to the trap of thinking your accounting software is there just to keep the books for you. Apart from missing out on the opportunity to grow your customer base, you’re not getting the most out of what it can do for you, thus not capitalizing on your investment. Talk to your accountant about how you can use your accounting solution as an effective customer data tool as well as a financial one.