As a small-business owner or employee, how do you stay engaged with your customers or clients and remain on their radar?

Building customer or client relationships is important for sustaining any business. You want people to think of you when they’re getting ready to make their next purchase, or when they have a problem that you can help them solve - even if it’s not right now. In order to do this, you have to be “top of mind” with them – so you’re the business they think of first, because you’re a business they know and trust.

A big part of staying top of mind involves regular communication. This is particularly important if yours is a seasonal business, or one in which customer transactions happen infrequently. One of the most common ways small businesses, such as retailers, keep in touch with customers is by sending direct mail to their customer list. These might include postcards, coupons, or menus (local restaurants). Think of the reminders you receive from your dentist, or from the auto mechanic who changes the oil in your car. Email and social media offer additional channels for reaching out, which may work well for customers who are more likely to connect online.

What’s your plan to keep in touch with your customers and clients? Consider some of these strategies:

Use email lists to encourage loyal customers. ACustomers who appreciate your products or services may also want to hear about “newsworthy” changes or updates; plan on helping them stay informed with ongoing information about your business. They’re also sometimes motivated to buy if they receive occasional discounts or other small incentives that reward their loyalty. Distributing this information to them is easy if you keep a database of customer contact information and a basic—and regularly

Interact with online social communities. Many customers appreciate knowing that a business they support maintains a social media presence, because it shows that the business enjoys being an active part of the greater community. But customers also want to feel like they’re getting a valuable online experience—rather than just being inundated with sales pitches—when they visit your Facebook page or blog, or follow you on Twitter or Instagram. So, be creative and show off what makes you unique, have some element of sincere, direct interaction, and plan out a calendar of regular updates.

Give your business a technological advantage. Strategic email marketing campaigns can make it much easier to stay top of mind with your customers and provide them with information tailored to their interests. According to Peter Binder, Channel Enablement Manager, SMB Solutions, at Pitney Bowes, “In terms of cost, time, and complexity, one of the most efficient ways for small businesses to acquire new customers, nurture their existing customers, and then also retain those customers, is through email marketing.” The web-based software tool pbSmart™ Connections is perfect for helping businesses make the most of their existing customer relationships through electronic marketing, he says. You can use this software to build e-mail campaigns with professional templates, integrate your email list with social media and direct mail, and track the success of your marketing efforts - so you can refine them over time. “You can look at that feedback and then adapt your campaigns going forward,” Binder explains.

Never underestimate the value of good old-fashioned networking. Adam Moseley, an insurance agent with Dolliff Insurance in St. Louis Park, MN, does most of his business development himself, and while he does post Facebook and Twitter updates for the agency, he’s still primarily finding success by building relationships in person. How does he do it? “Getting involved is a great way, whether it’s getting involved with community, whether it’s through youth sports—coaching your kids’ teams or sponsoring a team—or just getting out and meeting with various networking groups,” he says. He recommends “joining up with charities, and getting out and meeting people and trying to create those lasting relationships.”

After all, it’s easy for your clients to keep you in mind if they keep seeing you in their local community and regular social circles!