From a business-generation standpoint, what is your most valuable asset? Your telephone? Your computer? Your advertising budget? Maybe it’s your dedicated attendance at every networking opportunity in your area? The answer is none of the above.

Your single most important business-building asset is right at your fingertips: your existing client base. There is simply nothing more valuable and powerful for growing your business than the customers you already have.

Taking the time and effort to stay in contact with clients will grow your business through new sales to those clients as well as through referrals to qualified prospects.

We salespeople often think that keeping in touch with past clients takes too much time, effort or money. Considering the return on investment, this really is not true — at least for most of us. The key is finding a way to communicate that is time-efficient, relatively inexpensive and effective.

Studies indicate that in order to keep your name at the top of your clients’ minds, you need to “touch” them a minimum of 14 times per year — more if possible.

What is a “touch?” A touch is any communication from you to your client — an email, a phone call, a piece of snail mail, a postcard, a holiday card or an in-person meeting. And what is the most effective way to touch clients? Studies have shown that there is no “best” way. Rather, the most effective client communication programs enlist a number of different methods.

Sending 14 emails a year would be better than nothing, but it wouldn’t be the best. Perhaps you could set up a marketing calendar to deploy four postcards per year, six emails, two snail mail letters, one phone call and one holiday card. And the content of your communication is also very important. Communicating with a past client just for the sake of communicating is not necessarily a good thing.

If you send junk just to send something, your customer will quickly learn to send your communications on that three-second trip to the trash. On the other hand, if your communications consistently offer something of interest or value, you will train your client to pay attention when you communicate.

The most basic question to ask before sending anything is “Does this add value for my clients?” If the answer isn’t yes, you have a communication that will end up in the trash. Can you offer them a special of some sort or an enticement to refer you? Can you provide them an annual or semi-annual update on their past purchases? Whatever you decide to send doesn’t have to be large or costly. It just needs to be of value.

Marketing to your client database should be at the top of your to-do list, and your campaign should be constructed with thought and care, as if you were communicating with the most important people in the world. Because for you, they are.

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Paul McCord is a best-selling author, speaker and leading authority on lead generation. He has more than 20 years’ experience coaching and mentoring salespeople. For more information, go to mccordandassociates.com.