If customers were loyal to a particular brand or outlet before the pandemic, the government lockouts turned that on its ear.

When they were forced to shop online, buyers found that pressing buttons on their laptops made it very, very easy to jump from one to the next in search of a better deal. And while the trend has slowed some, it’s probably here to stay.

Which makes the competition for customers and prospects much more difficult.

Now you might have a good idea of how to keep your current customers in the fold, you have to ask yourself, will the old strategies still work? Businesses that do not nurture their clients—and attract a steady stream of prospects–can’t survive, let alone thrive.

Here are four questions to ask yourself that can inform an effective customer-retention and new business strategy:

1. How well do you know your customers? Can you describe your client base by the age range, gender distribution, experience preferences, and other pertinent demographics? This is must-know information. Lacking it leaves gaps in your ability to serve and attract.

Among the dozens of reasons you should have an online presence—the first being that’s where customers are—is its ability to collect demographic information. Websites and social media channels have analytic functionality that will sort it all for you.

Even if you aren’t online yet, you can track sales through your brick-and-mortar retail business to ascertain preferences and needs—types of instruments and/or accessories sold, seasonal demand, customer requests, and so on.

If you haven’t already read “Five Steps to Create an Outstanding Marketing Plan,” it is highly recommended you do so immediately. It’s on the HubSpot blog and includes free templates that will help you integrate a solid online presence—not just for the sake of gathering demographics but because business today demands it. A well-designed, easy-to-navigate website supported by compelling and informative content via social media channels will facilitate your organic and paid efforts in finding new clients.

2. Are you using the right lures to keep your customers coming back and attracting new clients? Everybody loves a special offer or incentive. Introductory discounts on goods and services based on your demographic intelligence can help expand your base. Retailers often do this by offering a one-time percentage discount for new customers. The important thing is that once you’ve “hooked” them with a new-customer offer, dazzle them with exceptional service and continued value ongoing, it’s generally less expensive to keep the clients you have compared to acquiring new ones.

3. Are people talking about you? The best and most cost-effective marketing is still word of mouth. Just ensure you are providing the best service and selection possible. That’s what you want your clients to pass along to their friends and associates. In effect, you are making them your brand ambassador. You can also incentivize your current client base by offering discounts or other rewards when they provide referrals.

4. Are you where your prospects are? Get out into your community. Attend events and participate in local organizations. People like doing business with those who give back. If your business is more wholesale related, consider attending conferences and other industry events where potential business-to-business clients are also in attendance. Technology is wonderful but it’s no substitute for one-on-one interaction when available.

While winning the competition for customers is not easy, it’s not complicated, either. With a little motivation, awareness, and commitment to improvement, you’ll be well on your way to attracting new clients and helping your business reach its highest potential.

And while that is financially and personally rewarding, it’s not a laurel upon which to rest. Competition, like rust, never sleeps.