By Rieva Lesonsky
Was one of your resolutions this year to increase your customer base? Here are 10 tried-and-true tips to help you attract more customers.
1. Offer new customers discounts and promotions
Consumers today are still looking for value and deals. Lure them into your business by offering introductory discounts, or have specials such as buy 2-get-1-for half-price or free gift wrapping for the first three purchases. Bargains like these can attract new customers who have been considering doing business with you but needed an incentive to actually change their shopping habits. Then track what they buy and which offers they redeemed so you can better target them with future marketing messages that will cement their loyalty.
2. Ask for referrals
Once you gain a customer’s loyalty, put that to work for you by asking them for referrals. Current customers are one of the best sources of new customers. But you can’t be passive and wait for your them to bring colleagues, friends, and family to your business. Instead, take control and create a systemized approach to actively solicit referrals from your satisfied customers.
Build referral-generating activities into the sales process. Send follow-up emails to make sure customers are happy with their purchases, and then follow that up with another email asking for referrals. Consider offering incentives if the sale price warrants it.
3. Recontact old customers
Go back to your lapsed customers contact list and market to former customers who haven’t done business with you for a while. Create a regular schedule to do this (say quarterly) and select customers you haven’t seen in six months. Reach out to them via email, direct mail, text, or phone with a “We miss you” message, offering some type of deal or promotion if they’ll come back.
There’s no better way to raise brand awareness than meeting new people, telling them who you are and what you do. Join your trade association, your local chamber of commerce, and networking organizations. Attend Meetup events. If you own a local business, even going to PTA meetings can be a good networking opportunity. Approach networking with a “How can I help you?” attitude, rather than thinking, “What’s in it for me?”
5. Update your website
Online search is the primary way both consumers and B2B buyers find new businesses. That means your website has to do the heavy lifting so customers can find you. Review your search engine marketing and search engine optimization tactics and techniques, including making sure your site is mobile-friendly.
Even your site design makes a difference. Too many graphics can slow your site’s load speed, which is a customer turnoff. If you don’t have the in-house expertise, hire a website design company and/or SEO expert to help.
Other Articles From AllBusiness.com:
6. Partner with complementary businesses
Teaming up with businesses that have a similar customer base, but aren’t directly competitive, and then strategizing 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 products, working with a business that sells maternity clothes would be a great partnership.
7. Promote your expertise
By showcasing your industry expertise, you can generate interest and even create buzz, which can help you attract new customers as well as get more business from your existing client base. Volunteering to speak on industry panels, giving a webinar or workshop, speaking at industry events or to groups your target customers belong to, or holding educational sessions are just a few ways you can make a good impression with potential new customers and clients. This technique works particularly well for B2B business owners.
8. Take advantage of online ratings and review sites
Consumers, both in the B2B and B2C worlds, frequently turn to online ratings and review sites before they’ll do business with a company they are not familiar with. So make sure you monitor those sites and respond to any complaints. Make the most of positive reviews by linking to them on your website. Post signage in your store, office, restaurant, or other location encouraging customers to add their perspectives. Social proof is powerful, and new customers are more likely to give your business a try if they see others praising it.
9. Participate in community events
Surveys show most people like to support local, independent businesses. Raise your profile in your community by participating in charity events and organizations. Sponsor a local fun run, organize a holiday “toys for kids” drive, or supply a Little League team in your city with equipment. All this raises your profile, which helps attract new customers.
10. Bring a friend
This idea is similar to referrals but requires customer participation. Offer “bring a friend” deals to get your loyal customers to introduce their friends and colleagues to your business. For instance, a restaurant could offer a “buy one entrée, get a second for free” special to attract more customers.
Think of these strategies as a starter list. Add your own ideas. The key is to get started now so that when next year rolls around, you’re already selling to an expanded customer base.
I am CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow me on Twitter @Rieva, and visit my website SmallBizDaily.com to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for my free TrendCast reports. Read all of Rieva Lesonsky’s articles.
This article was originally published on AllBusiness.