Tactics to Cultivate and Keep Customers

Customers are the support beams of a company. So it is important to ask: How can a business grow a loyal customer base?

A Lassonde for Life workshop titled “Customer Cultivation” answered this question. Lassonde for Life is a University of Utah program providing free support to alumni entrepreneurs. The workshop was presented by Sarah Duke, co-founder of Acrely Farms, which provides high-quality CBD products.

In Duke’s case, establishing meaningful connections with customers helped Acrely Farms succeed. In June 2020, Acrely Farms launched a website in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. Nothing happened. The business had inventory but struggled to find customers. Duke knew they had to enter more markets to reach more customers and launched into different channels, looking into any outlets to serve.

Duke learned about the University of Utah’s Master of Business Creation (MBC) program and decided to join in fall 2021-22. According to Duke, networking and mentorship helped the Acrely Farms team find our true market and find customers that relate and connect with the business.

With the help of the MBC program, Acrely Farms honed in on the ultimate customer base and sell inventory to businesses in the wholesale and resort spa space. Now, the brand is in 120 resort spas across 30 states. The brand has a physical store in Salt Lake City to connect with customers in person. The success of Acrely stems from its commitment to customer experience.  Duke said, “When scaling a business, customers are key.”

Here are more tactics for cultivating customers from Duke’s experience:

Attracting and Keeping Customers

The first step to gaining customers is having the right product. Determine the target customer demographic. Find where they are and how to serve their needs. Differentiate from competitors and decide the factors that entice customers to care about your product or brand.

Once customers are found, implement strategies to keep them. Consider what makes a customer experience remarkable, and shape business plans and service operations accordingly. There is an emotional factor when consumers make a purchase. Wow customers and keep them coming back. Be attentive towards customers. Learn what worked for them and the reasoning behind purchase decisions.

Relationship Building

Relationship building is crucial to connect with consumers. Relationship building looks different for long versus short sales cycles. In terms of business-to-business, it’s a long sales cycle. When consumers enter a store, it’s a shorter cycle – the purchase choice takes place between time entering and leaving. “The big thing is how can you connect,” Duke said. “How can you relate to that person?” Learn about customers and their needs and understand how your brand helps them.

Meet and Exceed Expectations

Conflict arises when businesses fail to meet customer expectations. Always give consumers what they expect and over-deliver when possible. In Dukes’ case, her business began online. Shipping the correct item in time was a base expectation. Handwriting notes, sending free samples, and lovely wrapping were all additions that helped Acrely Farms go above and beyond. Customers are wowed when businesses over-deliver.

Target Messaging

Target messaging is one way to better connect with customers. One message won’t resonate with everyone. Consider how to relate to each customer type and switch up communication strategies accordingly.


Always be ready to inform customers. Buyers want to know they are purchasing the right thing. Allow customers to ask questions, whether through online resources or in person. One way Acrely Farms implements this to their in-store experience is by providing a variety of product options. Store browsers can access all sizes, ingredients, and product options within the physical store.

Get Feedback

Ask questions to receive customer feedback. Engaging with customers is valuable and helps entrepreneurs learn, improve, and perform better. This is especially helpful for retaining customers long-term. Discover how customers found, used, and enjoyed products and services.

Customer Service

Establish trust between the brand and the customer. Consistently provide high levels of customer service. Take care of customers and encourage them to reach out. Thank customers and show appreciation when possible. Something small, like handwritten thank you cards, can go a long way.

The Importance of Customer Retention

It takes more time, cost, and effort to get new customers versus retaining current customers. Customers have lifetime value. Positive experiences encourage customers to stick with a brand and share it with friends.

About the Author:

Abigail Cheney Originally from Connecticut, Abigail Cheney came to the University of Utah for their esteemed entrepreneurship and marketing programs. She is passionate about startups and entrepreneurial exploration. Her enthusiasm aligns with writing and additional artistic endeavors. Connect on LinkedIn.

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