As we enter 2013, the business world remains in a state of uncertainty. Will the economy recover? Will new taxes be in place? Regardless of what happens, your key to success will lie in one thing: customer loyalty.

Customer loyalty builds your business when times are good and keeps you in business when times are bad.

Customer loyalty makes your revenue both more predictable AND more profitable since it costs far more to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one.

How do you keep customers loyal? Simple:

1. Be more than just a vendor.

Create and market products that make it easier for your customers to sell to their customers. When building your strategies, start with the needs of your customers' customers and work backwards to discover how you can be the most helpful.

2. Be more than just a vendor.

Anticipate what your customers might need from your firm and handle it long before they're aware they need it. Your goal: provide such incredible service that your customers feel like they'd be crazy to even consider buying from anyone else.

3. Be more than just a vendor.

Provide extra value that goes far beyond the customer's expectations of your products and services. For example, find customers for your customers so that they can build their own business and thus give more business to you!

4. Be more than just a vendor.

Whenever possible, meet your customers in social situations rather than purely business ones. Trade shows and industry events are great, but attending a charity event where your customers will be present is even better.

5. Be more than just a vendor.

I think you get the point. Have a great 2013, everyone!

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