How do small businesses get new customers?Depending on the type of business you own, the way you go about getting new customers will change. Popular and generally reliable methods include:
- Getting recommendations and referrals from existing customers
- Running competitions that increase visibility
- Increasing social media presence and strategically using content and tags
- Traditional advertising in print and media
- Utilising underused tools such as Google my Business
- Making sure your website is easy to find and navigate
- Creating a persona for your small business – many small businesses have found increased success when there is a face behind the business doing social media updates and offering a personal presence
- Revamping your storefront
- Starting a customer loyalty program
- Offering exceptional after-sales services
- Offering freebies – even free online courses or printables which drive engagement up will get people interested and excited and cost you very little
What are 4 ways to attract customers?Attracting new customers to your business should be seen as an investment. So although you should be looking for ways to maintain a healthy bottom-line and decrease expenses, you should also be ready to put in the necessary capital for marketing. Not all marketing strategies are going to cost, but be aware that not all strategies will work for all businesses either. The four main strategies to consider are: advertising, networking, collaboration, and long-term alliances. No matter the strategy you choose, you will need to put a lot of time, effort, and possibly funds, into making it work. Be sure to understand what your goals are and how your chosen method works. Properly preparing before starting a new marketing campaign or approach will win you half the battle.
AdvertisingAdvertising is usually the first thing people think of when they start to consider widening their customer base. There are several different forms of advertising, all targeting different markets and costing businesses different amounts depending on the extent of the market. If you are wanting to build your business through straightforward marketing then you will need to carefully consider your product or service, target market, and the best advertising match. Television advertising, for instance, usually has a very different approach and target market from Tik-Tok advertising. Some of the typical ways you might advertise are:
- Podcast advertising, including sponsored content and paid promotions
- Physical mail or flyering
- Door-to-door advertising
- Social media advertising (YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest)
- Influencer advertising
- Display advertisements in print such as Newspapers
- Display advertisement in digital such as on websites
- Television advertisements
- Product placement
- Outdoor advertising such as billboards
- Radio advertising, including sponsored content
NetworkingNetworking and referrals can be a much cheaper option of broadening your customer base. Studies have shown that customers gained through referrals are more likely to be repeat customers. Referral customers also fall into the bracket of people likely to refer others. This means that if you can properly network and gain referrals from the right group of people, you may be able to gain a perpetual loop of new customers through ongoing referral. To get referrals right requires careful thought. You will need to understand your target market well and have a product that competes with everything else on the market. Your product or service doesn’t necessarily need to be unique, but it must have something to commend it. Are you hoping to draw in customers for the quality of your product or service, your after-sales approach, your company ethos, or your unique approach? Know what will drive the referrals. Referrals can come through social media contests (follow, like, and share to win), online referral sites (TripAdviser and Google Reviews), word of mouth, or business networking. Think about what method works best for your business. Don’t forget to thank your customers for good referrals. Incentives can often go a long way in getting word out about your business.
CollaborationShort term collaborations with similar brands or businesses can be beneficial to other businesses and if you market yourself correctly, can cut costs. Find another business with a similar target market and use their reach to extend your own. This works both ways, so make sure your existing customers will appreciate seeing the products or services offered by the other business. Collaborations work well if both businesses can offer incentives for new customers. Incentives could include gift vouchers or discounts for new customers, or prizes for people who utilise both businesses’ services. You could also attract other businesses to work with you by offering the business incentives if they already have a wide market and are not interested in advertising to your customers. Options include things like offering commission on sales through their contacts, or offering bespoke goods and services that your business specialises in.
Long-term AllianceShort-term collaborations can be ramped up to long-term alliances if you find that they work well for you. “Strategic alliances” are formed when businesses recognise the benefits of working together. A hairdresser may go into a long-term alliance with a makeup artist, with both businesses able to share premises and customers. Likewise, a web designer might team up with a graphic designer and the two could send referrals to each other. Customer needs often overlap, looking at where the overlap is and who you can strategically place yourself alongside can be hugely profitable for both you and the other business. If you haven’t worked with the business before, be sure to have a trial period before committing to anything long-term. You should also revisit the alliance frequently to make sure you are still achieving your marketing goals and purposes. Ultimately, a long-term alliance could save you a lot of money, especially if you are able to share expenses with the other business. Sharing in office or retail space, or advertising can both help you to increase your profits and decrease overall expenditure.
How do you target new customers?The first step of gaining new customers is understanding them so you can target them. If this is the step where you find yourself getting stuck, start slow and follow some simple steps:
- Survey your existing customers to find out what they are like and how they were initially drawn to your business
- Research your local area and the kind of person living there
- Read your reviews to better understand what your customers appreciate and what they still want from you
- Read competitor reviews to find out what they are offering that you are not
- Use your social media and online presence to identify what content your customers resonate with the most.
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