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Keep Calling Your Ex

How valuable is a former customer? According to big and tall clothing store KingSize Direct, very valuable.

I am 5’7 and 165 pounds. My shirt size is M and my pants size hovers near 32. KingSize’s smallest shirt size is L and their smallest pants size is 38. But because I bought one pair of sweatpants, once, from KingSize (as part of a Halloween costume), I’ve been getting catalogs for almost a year.

I tried to tell them to stop. It didn’t matter. I’m on their list.

Think of the cost of that: to design, to photograph, to print, and to mail 76 page catalogs, once a month or more, probably until the end of time.

But the reasoning is simple—former customers are a valuable audience. You have certain demographics you target based on age, income level, hobbies, and gender. These demographics are indirect and speak to probability. Your real goal is finding people who are likely to spend money on your product. Targeting former customers is a huge shortcut. They already spent money on your product so you know they’re the right type of people. Now you just have to pull them in again.

One resort I’ve worked with sends annual Thanksgiving cards to all its former guests. Because people meet with family and discuss vacation plans over Thanksgiving they chose this time to insert themselves into the conversation. (It also doesn’t hurt that most other resorts wait until Christmas to send cards, so they have a first mover advantage). The owner signs the cards in batches while watching TV at night, so it’s a personal touch without much effort, and even one $2,500 booking more than makes up for it.

At our bakery, we put together lists of people who ordered for Thanksgiving and compared them to the list of those who ordered for Christmas. Those who didn’t order got a friendly phone call asking if they were interested and offering a free cinnamon roll. The amount of orders we got offset our employee’s phone time by 7 to 1.

Think of ways to reactive your former customers. KingSize’s strategy of relentlessly targeting past buyers is clearly making them money—even if a few of those catalogs end up going to short guys like me.