Five ways to expand your small business customer base

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Customer attraction

Serving customers is the primary reason for any business to exist. To keep growing, you need to not only retain the customers you have, but also entice new ones to try out your products and services. In today’s business environment, consumers have more options than ever, with more suppliers and service providers competing for a slice of their attention and a share of their wallets.

That means you need to be innovative and proactive to break through the clutter. Here are ways your company can attract new customers without growing your salesforce or breaking the bank on expensive advertising campaigns:

  1. Referrals
  2. Promotions
  3. Remarketing to lapsed customers
  4. Networking
  5. Enhancing your online presence

Let’s look at each of these strategies in more detail:

1. Referrals

Who could be a better salesperson for your business than an existing customer who loves your products and services? Your customers may have many friends, colleagues and family members who could benefit from your offerings, but they may not mention you unless you give them a bit of a nudge. A referrals programme rewards them if someone they know becomes your customer, giving them a reason to spread the word about your business.

You can build a referrals programme into your sales process with relatively little cost or difficulty. For example, you could send a referral code to a customer when you e-mail them an invoice or order confirmation. They could get a small discount or free delivery on their next order if someone they know places an order. The person they referred then also gets a discount or other benefit for using the code.

2. Introductory offers and promotions

Many people are reluctant to try a new supplier or service provider because they are complacent or risk-averse. For example, someone might be interested to try kung-fu, but reluctant to pay for a full month of classes because they’re not sure they will like it. Or a client might be unhappy with an existing design agency, but not yet dissatisfied enough to move.

An attractive offer for those using your services or products for the first time could inspire customers such as these to try your company out, hopefully setting the scene for a long-term relationship.

For example, you could offer a free introductory martial arts session to new customers or give a design client a discount for their first project with your company.

3. Remarketing to lapsed customers 

Customers drift away from your company for various reasons. These may range from a negative experience with your company, to finding an attractive competitive offer or just forgetting about you with everything else going on in their lives. Make these old customers new again by reaching out to them with a compelling offer.

For example, e-mail them a ‘welcome back’ discount code for their next purchase or make a quick call to find out if there is any way you can help them. They will often be pleased that you want to win back their business.

4. Networking

Sometimes the best way to get new customers is to venture out and find them at expos, conferences, networking events and community events. Think about places where your customers will gather and try to be present.

For example, if you operate in a business-to-business market, making some time for relevant trade shows and conferences can pay off. If you’re a small, consumer-focused business, why not sponsor a local soccer team or a neighbourhood market to get into the community?

Depending on your business, you can even invite customers and prospects to an event of your own. For example, a braai in the company gardens, a golf day, or a free seminar where you share your industry knowledge. Another way to get leads is by being a speaker at an event. As a presenter, you hold a position of authority so you can expect at least a few leads after your presentation. You can use these connections to find even more leads.

Remember to gather contact details for the new prospects you meet and to follow up after the event.

5. Enhance your online presence

If you don’t already have a website, you’re missing out on one of the most important sources of leads and customers available to your business today. Social media accounts are great but having a website of your own takes your business to the next level. It also makes it easier for customers to discover you and gives your company an air of professionalism.

With a tool like GoDaddy Website Builder, you can get your own domain name and create a slick website for your business in a matter of hours. If you have a website, there are a few simple ways to optimise it to generate more leads, which will hopefully turn into more customers:

 Publish compelling content online: Creating interesting and entertaining blog posts, videos, infographics and other content can help lure potential customers into your sales funnel. Share:

  • Information that is educational or entertaining for customers.
  • Videos that readers are likely to share with family and friends.
  • Upcoming events, the latest trends, offers and so on.

This will this help you attract people from social media to your website and to engage with existing customers. It will also bring new prospects to your virtual doorstep. That’s especially true if you use the keywords people use on Google to find products or services from companies like yours. 

Use a lead magnet: This is an offer such as a free consultation, limited-time trial, e-book or other experience valuable enough to capture the attention of prospective clients. Ask customers to trade their e-mail address for a valuable piece of content or a voucher, and you will be able to add some great leads to your database.

Final thoughts

Today’s most popular strategies for attracting customers often use digital channels such as your website and social media accounts. But you can also get great results by combining old-school sales and marketing techniques (print and radio advertising or trade shows) with digital tools (social media and your website).

For example, be sure to promote your Twitter handle when you talk at a conference or use e-mail to remind customers to watch your presentation. So, what are you waiting for? Use these strategies to generate new leads, close more sales and grow your customer base in the weeks and months to come.

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