What will be different in ’09?

mad customerReady or not, 2009 is here.  By now, you should have your marketing plan for the year completed so you can hit the ground running. But…the percentages say you haven’t even started.

Would you like to know how you can significantly improve your business right out of the shoot?

If you’ve got it in you, here’s a tough but very smart way to jump start that planning.

Make a list of customers who were with you on January 1, 2008 but aren’t still with you today. Then, swallow your pride and pick up the phone.

If you demonstrate a little bit of humility, you’ll find those former clients more than happy to share their perspective with you.

Here are some questions to ask that former client.

  • What was it about our company (product or service) that made you choose to do business with us?
  • Did your early experience with our company match what you expected?
  • Was there a specific event or a series of events that began to make you question that decision?
  • What was the final straw — why did you decide to stop doing business with us?
  • What do you wish we had done differently?
  • How did we handle your departure?
  • Is there anything we could do to re-earn your business?

It might not be easy to listen to but, I guarantee you — if you do this, you will learn something significant.

Why not take the risk and start ’08 off with a burst of insight?

Latest posts by Drew McLellan (see all)


  1. Start 2008 off, you say? 😉

    Otherwise, good post ~ Not something I’d imagine people would think to do.

  2. I could not agree more than simply asking a client or former client their opinion. I think it is a great strategy. However, sometimes, you can’t keep up with the numbers especially when you are in a non-repeat business. If I were to suggest an email survey, you might say, TOO IMPERSONAL. But, sometimes, this is what a client wants when they’ve utilized your service.

    I’m really only aware of what we use which is Constant Contact (http://www.goconstantcontact.com). Who else is using other services to accomplish this? Is it working?

  3. Adam,

    I know…I just caught it too. I’m still dating checks ’08 as well. By February, I’ll get it right!


  4. >>Make a list of customers who were with you on January 1, 2008 but aren’t still with you today. Then, swallow your pride and pick up the phone.<<

    Drew, best advice I read sofar in 2009 – It really pays off to work on reactivating old customers – it brings you insight why they don’t buy anymore (and what you can improve) and also some new sales.

    All the best for 2009.

  5. I like the article – it’s always good to see a little bit of humilty from people in the business world. Another step to starting off ’09 on the right foot is making sure all of your outsourced jobs are in check. Make sure who ever does your accounting, web hosting, advertising and marketing, or anything else out-souced is doing the most efficient, cost effective job for you. For example if you are paying $20 for web hosting consider switching hosts. http://www.TheBlueKingdom.com offers hosting at $3.99. It is the small desicions that add up over time and make your business successful. We can always be better, because no one is perfect. Good luck!

  6. Good business ethics counts. This is helpful especially to those who can’t swallow their pride and not take the leap in winning back their “former” clients. Very informative and very timely – economic chaos is in the offing – got to grab this easy to learn do’s and dont’s.

  7. Honesty and truth with your customers is extremely important to maintain the long term relationship and repeat business. Unless you are a super skilled con artist, most people can pick, even if just sub-consiously, when you are spinning them a line. They then lose trust in you, and don’t return. If you make a mistake, admit it, and bend over backwards to make the customer happy. From my few? mistakes in life, it has been proven over and over that people appreciate the honesty and effort and build trust with you.

  8. Great advice Drew! We have started following up every order with a questionnaire about their experience with our company. Getting lots of great info on how to improve.


  9. I hoping some of you will be brave enough to give this a try and then come back and let us know how it went.

    I promise….you will learn something that will make your business notably better for 2009.


  10. Great post. I’m feeling the love here for those who bring a brand to the Dance: customers (current and former) and employees.

    I love the idea of calling ex-customers. It IS tough, but oh so worth it.

  11. Even though this is a year old, it’s still really valid – we’ve been asking our customers for feedbac just recently, sending out a few questions via email. We keep such a personal relationship with each customer during the ordering process anyway, that they’re always very open to talk to us about things.