Helping small businesses get more customers
Bringing new customers into a business is the most important thing to do, but how on earth does a small business actually make that happen?
Customer acquisition doesn’t have to be complicated; it’s just about using common sense in a smart way, like most parts of business. Cost is a major barrier when it comes to marketing and advertising for all the small businesses. Many of the popular methods of Marketing and Advertising (like radio, TV, magazines and newspapers) are often too expensive for small businesses. In a world where a 30-second advert slot on radio and television or a billboard can cost a bomb, it’s difficult for small businesses to survive. That’s why big companies with massive advertising and marketing budgets dominate the billboards, newspapers, magazines, radio and television.
Most small businesses cannot find the customers they need to remain in business; they starve and die because they cannot sell enough products and services. Despite these difficulties, some businesses which start very small but are able to attract enough customers to remain in business. Smart businesses and entrepreneurs use several taken-for-granted methods that many of us have learned to overlook. Some of them are amazingly simple and will cost peanuts. Some of the others will cost you a little, but not enough to cost a hole in your pocket. Thanks to the internet, there are now more and more free, cheap and interesting advertising options for small businesses.
Here are the top nine ways to find new and more customers for your small business which may work very well when used alone. However, it is recommended to combine different methods to get the best results.
1.Word-of-mouth always works!
This is definitely the oldest form of marketing and advertising used by businesses since the start of the world. While it may bring slower results than billboards or television, it still works very well. Paid advertising has increased suspicion amongst people; word-of-mouth remains one of the most trusted methods in the world today. When a customer is genuinely happy and satisfied with a product or service, there’s a natural human tendency that they are likely to share the experience with people in their circle of trust and influence – family, friends, colleagues, neighbours and sometimes, strangers. Word-of-mouth is so effective and powerful that many successful businesses rely solely on this method to market their products and services. Network marketing businesses are a good example of Word-of-mouth advertising.
2. Offer new customers discounts and promotions
Consumers today are still looking for value for money and amazing deals. Lure them into your business by offering introductory discounts, or have specials such as buy 2-get-1-for half-price or free gifts for the first three purchases. Offers like these can attract new customers who have been considering doing business with you but needed an incentive to actually change their shopping habits. Keep a track on what they buy and which offers they redeem so that you can target them with future marketing messages that will cement their loyalty. In fact, discounts and deals usually influence a lot of customers to buy more products or services than they initially planned to buy. They love to ‘take the opportunity’ because the same products may not be available so cheap again.
3. Update your website and make it more interactive
Online search is the main way both consumers and B2B buyers find new businesses. That means their website has to do the heavy lifting so customers can find them. Review your search engine marketing and search engine optimization tactics and techniques, also making sure the site is mobile-friendly. Even the site design makes a difference; too many graphics can slow your site’s load speed, which is a turnoff for customers. Companies can hire a website design company and/or SEO expert to help if there is no in-house expertise. If someone has a question while viewing your website, it needs to be addressed immediately. If you can’t interact with viewers when they need you, they’ll move on to the next option.
There are countless live chat tools available, and most of them make it easy for the website to interact with viewers, and vice versa. So long as an employee is able to man the conversations, these tools helps to create better experiences for viewers, which results in more new customers acquisition.
4. Networking and Referrals
Once a customer’s loyalty is gained, you can ask them for referrals. Current customers are one of the best sources for acquiring new customers. One also needs to be active in asking them to bring colleagues, friends, and family to your business. Additionally, take control and create a systemized approach to actively solicit referrals from your satisfied customers. Build referral-generating activities into the sales process and start with sending follow-up emails to make sure customers are happy with their purchases, and then follow that up with another email asking for referrals. Landing referrals from networking or past business associations is also a way to pick up customers with the highest retention rates. What’s more, referral customers tend to purchase more over time and in turn become main source of additional referrals. Be sure to also find ways to continually thank your sources for their ongoing support of your business. Join trade associations, local chamber of commerce, and networking organizations and attend Meet up events.
5. Social Media is the way to go.
When it comes to social media, the benefits are too huge to overlook. Most of us can handle Facebook and Instagram, but what if you’re not reaching the right audience?
Social media is a game changer in the way business is done in today’s world. Popular social media networks like Facebook, Instagram are some of the top places where your potential customers hang out and it makes perfect sense that you register your business on these platforms too. It makes it very easy for people (both customers and non-customers) to talk about your business and they can share or tweet about your products and services and this allows you to easily engage with them. Daily deals sites like Groupon and Dineout can add a ton of value to your business. Daily deals sites are great for getting first-timers in the door as consumers are much more likely to try something new when it’s a steal, giving you the opportunity to turn one-timers into repeats. Most people now spend more time on the internet and social media; it only makes sense that you follow them there.
6. Partner with complementary businesses
Teaming up with businesses that have a similar customer base, but aren’t directly competitive, and then manoeuvring how you can market to one another’s customers to drive new business is a smart way to attract new customers while not spending a fortune. For instance, if you sell baby care products, working with a business that sells kids wear would be a great partnership. They can attach a gift voucher or other discount offer for your products at the end of one of a newsletter or mailing. Examples of this include: a high-end hair salon and a high-end boutique. To draw in another business, offer to pay for the business owner’s email expenses, or offer the business owner commission on any sales.
7. Crank up the online ratings & reviews.
Most consumers say online reviews influence their buying decisions which mean reviews produce results. Furthermost of us want to avoid bad experiences, and instead have good experiences and online reviews help people understand whether they’ll have a good or bad experience with your business. The more people voting in your favour, the better. Consumers, both in the B2B and B2C worlds, frequently turn to online ratings and review sites before they decide do business with a company, they are not familiar with. So, it’s important to monitor those sites and respond to any complaints. Make the most of positive reviews by linking to them on your website. Social proof is powerful, and new customers are more likely to give your business a try if they see others fawning it.
8. Participate in community events
Surveys show most people like to support local and independent businesses. Raise your profile in your community by participating in local charity events and organizations. Sponsor a marathon, organize a holiday “toys for kids” drive, or supply a Little League team in your city with equipment. All this raises your profile and catch eyeballs for your brand, which helps attract new customers.
9. Print and Distribute Flyers
Flyers remain a simple but very effective way to publicise and advertise small business. They usually work best for target customers within a particular area (such as university campuses, residential estates, offices and industrial areas).It’s best to focus more on the message you want to deliver and not on the pictures, graphics or colours which can make it expensive. In fact, with the help of free templates in PowerPoint on the computer, one can design a simple further cutting the designing cost.