Having a large customer base is one way to make sure you’re always busy with enough cash flow. You can’t just expect people to work with you willingly, even if they have before. You need to encourage them, and convince them that you’re a great business to work with on a regular basis. Building up a solid customer base can take time, but these 12 things are all popular ways startups can grow theirs at a fast pace:
Define Your Target Market
Make sure you’ve defined your target market if you want to build your customer base as quickly as possible. You can then base everything you do marketing wise around them, ensuring that they feel inclined to work with you. You can define your target market by:
- Working out whose problems you solve.
- Deciding who will gain the most value from your offer.
- Analysing your product/service.
- Looking at your competition.
Remember, you can’t please everybody, as much as you’d like to. Defining a target market will give you the best results.
Try Lots of Different Marketing Strategies
Various marketing strategies will help build your base in different ways. Here’s a list of strategies and how they can help you:
- Building social media profiles and making sure you stay active on them will engage your target market.
- Sponsoring a sport’s team will increase your exposure as the team plays games and goes on trips.
- Giving out business cards is a tried and tested method that works.
- Radio, TV, and magazine advertising are still widely used by businesses.
- Writing a blog could help you to establish yourself as an expert in your industry.
Don’t knock a particular strategy unless you’ve tried it, and remember to use a mix of offline and online techniques. Switch things up every now and again to make sure your marketing doesn’t go stale. Be open to new things.
Focus on Customer Service
Customer service should be on your priority list right at the top. Remember, it isn’t just about the service or product that a customer is buying from you; it’s the entire experience. If they don’t have a good time shopping with you, regardless of how good your product/service is, many won’t work with you again. News of a bad experience spreads much faster than news of a good experience too, so you should do everything you can to ensure this doesn’t happen. By making sure each and every customer is satisfied, they’ll help sell your service/product for you by recommending you to their friends/family. They’ll also be more likely to return. Retaining customers is much easier than getting new ones! Offer the best customer service by:
- Always responding to issues and queries in a timely manner.
- Do your best to resolve issues and queries.
- Being polite and helpful whenever you can.
- Going the extra mile for your customers.
Offer Some Great Deals
Get your customers through the door by offering some great deals. This may mean you lose out in the short term, but in the long term you’ll be getting returning customers! Always think of the benefits you could get in the long term rather than what you could lose in the short term.
Offer Incentives to Shop/Work With You
Why should somebody shop or work with you as opposed to somebody else? Give them incentives. You could create a customer loyalty card for example, which nearly always does the trick. You could also invent your own points reward system.
Invent a Refer a Friend Program
Make sure your customers are referring their friends to you by inventing a refer a friend scheme. You could offer both parties a discount, a free gift, or something else you deem appropriate. What better reason to send people your way?
Make Sure Your Staff Feel the Same Way as You
If you have staff, they need to feel the same way as you about the business. They must ensure they’re prioritising customer service too, as everybody that works for you represents your business in the same way. Make sure they understand that how they act reflects your company. In many cases, treating your staff well is as important as customer service. If you have unhappy staff, this is sure to shine through in the work they do for you. Happy staff will automatically create happy customers!
Hosting competitions online or offline is a great idea to get people to purchase something from you, or to simply ‘like’ you via Facebook. Get people to like and share a post of yours for this to work online, and if the prize is good enough you should get lots of followers. You can do this regularly in order to help people remember you and continue to follow you.
Give Away Free Stuff
Why not give away free stuff with a purchase, or even just for no reason at all? People love free stuff. You could give away branded pens, coasters, mugs…anything that is likely to be used on a daily basis. You could even give away cups of tea on a cold day to get people into your store, just resist selling to them and let them come to you. Write a list of customer giveaway ideas that you can refer back to. Even if they don’t show an interest, they won’t forget you in a hurry and you’ll get people talking!
Networking online and offline will get your business name and message out there. Make friends with other businesses, especially if they offer complimentary services. You could work together to grow one another’s customer base! Give your business card to anybody who might want it.
Help People for Free
If somebody comes to you with a question, help them for free. Don’t be precious over your expert knowledge; sharing it will only make people come back to you again and again! Whether this is in person or by sharing your knowledge on blogs/blog comments/status updates, it’s a great technique to get customers.
Focus on Customer Retention
As mentioned earlier, keeping customers is easier than getting new ones. Focus on customer retention with the other steps above and you should enjoy both old and new customers regularly!