By Chris Biscuiti

When it comes to small business marketing, there tends to be a focus on acquiring new customers. After all, customer acquisition is a huge part of building a business. At the same time, however, one element of marketing that often gets overlooked by entrepreneurs who are just starting out is the idea of upselling to your existing customers in order to grow your brand.

That word – upsell – can oftentimes strike fear into the hearts of small business owners … Why? Because the idea of going to an existing client and asking them to spend more on your products and services can make an entrepreneur feel like they are going to the proverbial well too often.

Well, I am here to tell you that when done right, upselling can be a huge key in growing your business. With a little help from my friends at Minuteman Press, who are managers and franchise owners that specialize in providing marketing services to small business owners, here’s how you should upsell existing customers … and why they’ll love it!

Education is Inspiration

Before you talk to existing clients, you should change your frame of mind from that of a seller to one of an educator. Think about what you can teach your customers about your products and services that is relevant to them, and do your best to try and show them the value or ROI that these products and services can render for them.

“You need to continually educate your customers to the products and services that you offer,” says Rich Panowitz, Minuteman Press International Area Manager in Houston. Otherwise, they won’t even have the chance to politely decline – or, even better – jump on board when you attempt to upsell them.

Becoming a One-Stop Shop is a Win-Win

By educating your customers on the full suite of products and services that you offer them, you just might be able to not only grow your business but save them time and money as well. For example, if you handle all of the print marketing materials for a company and also have promotional products and direct mail solutions readily available, you can offer them those additional services or even bundle them together. In doing so, you can make your clients’ lives easier because they can then integrate a segment of their business.

“Upselling to your existing customers using tools such as direct mail and promotional products to showcase items they might be ordering from someplace else is absolutely necessary,” explains Panowitz. This is a win-win because you can then generate new business from a client you already have a relationship with while also helping them streamline their operations.

Capitalize on the Initial Sale and Follow-up Period

While marketing and upselling can happen at many points during customer sales, there are advantages to hitting on the initial sale period and immediately afterwards when following up. During the initial sale, chances to add value are ripe with the addition of relevant services. Complementary products supplement the customer experience and offering support packages or customer loyalty programs — for example, promising a free T-shirt or other promotional item after the first ten purchases — are examples of simple ways to establish upselling and marketing early in the process. The important element is added value, rather than simply adding token options without much thought. Always consider which additional or new products and services they could possibly benefit from and then go about offering them.

After the initial sale is secured another great chance presents itself in terms of upselling and marketing. For instance, when new products and services are released, it is the perfect opportunity to reach out to the current customer base and boast about them and using direct mail is a fantastic way to drive these types of announcements to their homes, where they will pay off. Always review what types of services are currently being offered and then consider things that could be done differently or additions that could come on board to increase their value, perhaps for a small fee.

The main objective is to keep sales opportunities with existing clients “fixed on the radar” while you engage in new business pursuits. “Constant open communication with your client base is key in keeping them informed on new products, latest news, specials and promotions,” says Mark Calis, Minuteman press franchise owner in Washington, DC, who is well-versed in the dire importance of maintaining continued marketing efforts in the direction of the current customer base.

Ultimately, whether a business owner is beginning or continuing to cultivate the great treasure that is the loyal customer base through marketing, upselling and incentives, the investment in long-term growth by doing so is straightforward and lucrative.