Bird in Hand | Collective Alternative

The Bird in the Hand Vs. Two in the Bush: Retaining & Gaining Customers Amid COVID-19

Now more than ever before, customer loyalty is being put to the ultimate test.

As the coronavirus crisis continues, absolutely everyone has been affected and many consumers are reassessing expenses they once never gave a second thought.

For small business owners watching revenues recede and facing unprecedented challenges, a natural response may be to focus all of their marketing and messaging efforts on gaining as many new customers as they possibly can.

Casting a wider net won’t always bring in a bigger return, even in the best of times, but especially amid an era of consumers having their guards up higher and wallets tighter than usual.

It might be hard to hear, but not everyone is your customer.

But you know who is? Your current and recent customers!

Their spending habits may have changed lately, but the customers already in your orbit have an established history of trusting your products and services. The allure and potential of proverbial new customers is enticing, but now is the time to make sure you’re communicating to and taking care of your current customers first and foremost — for multiple reasons:

It’s the right thing to do

Your current customer base is the reason you have a successful small business in the first place. Communicate with them often, adjust your products or services if possible and show that you’re putting their needs and interests first. When this crisis passes and some appearance of normal returns, they’ll remember the companies that supported them, listened and understood their circumstances, and ultimately, were humans first.

You’ll remain top of mind

By focusing your communications on customers who have already seen you before, you’ll stay in front of them and hopefully be the first option they think of when looking for an item or service you provide. And if or when you do adjust how you do business or offer new products and services, free or inexpensive social media posts, targeted digital advertising, emails or other campaigns can effectively convey the message to those you know are receptive to hearing from you.

They’re your best marketing

More often than not, your current customers are already your best course available for finding new ones! Consumers are more likely to listen to referrals and recommendations from friends, family, neighbors and coworkers than advertising campaigns that come across their feeds seemingly out of nowhere. If you haven’t already, try establishing a referral or rewards program to give your current customers an extra incentive to help spread the word!

You can get a gauge of loyalty and satisfaction

You know your customers are home more than usual and spending more time on their phones and online — maybe they’d be more receptive to completing a brief customer satisfaction survey for you, too? Whether it’s through structured and data-driven formal questions or just requests for informal feedback, you can gather useful information for the future by prioritizing your past and present customers over ones you haven’t reached yet.

Today’s economic landscape is unlike any our community’s small businesses have ever faced. Amidst new challenges and slow economic recovery, new customers might seem like a golden goose and ultimate prize. But as the timeless saying goes, “one bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” and retaining (or re-gaining) your past and present customers right now is a better bet than focusing solely on attaining new ones.

Interested in even more additional insight?

Our COVID-19 resource center and pandemic marketing library features a collection of free downloads that go into further detail on customer profiles, retention plan strategies, client survey styles and more helpful tips on topics for better reaching and retaining your already built-in audience.


Speaking of great resources, our next Executive Speaker Series event also focuses on enhancing your customers’ experience — from first reactions in the moments after you close a sale to a years-long approach for cultivating long-lasting, mutually beneficial and profitable relationships.

In the series’ past two installments, our own Amanda Parker and Inspire Results business coach Natalie Menke have each delivered insight into lead generation and converting those leads into successful sales, respectively. Now, to round out the three-part mini-series, the duo will join forces to dive deep into customer retention and satisfaction strategies gained over decades of sales and engagement success. Register for free today to claim your spot at our May 19 webinar discussion!