You’ve heard of using other customers to influence the rest of the market. It’s a common element in social media marketing strategies. However, what about old customers specifically? Can they really make a difference in your sales leads? Sometimes differences of opinion can vary across generations of different prospects (especially when you’ve managed to stay in business for so long).

Ever see someone say that they used to remember when “Company Z used to sell this and that”? That’s a mark of a really old customer. These are the people who have done business with a company since its earliest days and could have an unsung status that rivals even investors. Why? Because, like the elderly in general, these are the people who can pass on the story of your brand, your products, and your business.

This is handy when you make moves that don’t seem popular or at least familiar to a younger segment of your target market. Your oldest customers become your asset because they have the historical knowledge as well as the reach to explain your moves when your own marketers cannot. Situations like this include:

Social media buzz

Sometimes unveiling a new product could result in a far more mixed reaction than you wanted. And often times, this is reflected in social media. While your lead generation process will eventually lead you to one-on-one conversations with prospects, they will be carrying a lot of this influence into the conversations. This can put a lot of pressure on your lead generators and sales reps to keep misconceptions under control. On the other hand, your older customers can take the heat off (if not indirectly) by being the ones doing most of the clarifying.

Leading communities

In social network communities, it’s often the oldest members that tend to lead and hold sway. Same thing applies if you’re trying to apply social influence in your marketing strategy. Trying to micromanage and control customer opinion by yourself can be taxing on your resources. Your older customers on the other hand can act as part of an informal chain of command. Influencing them can lead to that influence carrying on to younger, newer customers.

Extra customer service

Sometimes the smallest problems are best solved without running to your customer service. This allows you to have more time addressing the bigger ones. But who is the one solving them? The same people who had the same problem but now know the standard fix. You can see this in online forums as well as Q&A boards.

Every marketer will tell you to never take customers for granted. But your older customers? They deserve an extra special mention for all the work they save up on your part.