Expanding your customer base is one of the benchmarks of a successful business. At the same time however, the vast majority (76.4%) of small and mid-sized Canadian businesses say they’re feeling pressure to access new customers. To help meet this entrepreneurial challenge, we’ve gathered an assortment of proven methods for attracting new clients no matter what business you’re in. Here are five ways to expand your customer base and increase your business performance.
1. Know Before You Grow
Knowing exactly which customers you’re targeting before you seek them out is critical for growing your base clientele. Most business owners have a fairly solid idea of the kinds of customers they’re after. But the more defined your understanding of who your ideal customer is, the more refined (and attractive) your value promise to them will be. If you haven’t already, spend some time determining what your ideal client needs to make his or her life better – and how your company can give it to them.
2. Offer Your Prospects a Bonus
Rewarding people for trying your product or service is a great way to entice new customers through the door. Incentives may take the form of:
- first-purchase discounts,
- free introductory classes or sessions,
- complimentary consultations, or
- a gift or cash payout for referring a friend
Some companies regularly run fee-free webinars, workshops, or community meet-and-greet events to drum up new business. The bonus for business owners? Many of the costs attached to promotional events are tax-deductible.
3. Get Social to Get Customers
Social media marketing has become firmly entrenched in the business world for good reason: it works. More than a third of internet users claim to visit social networks when looking for more information about a product or brand. And that means platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter can serve as a key driver of new leads to your business. You may also want to consider starting a blog, writing an e-book, or hosting a podcast or YouTube channel to connect with potential new customers.
4. See and Be Seen
Networking is the face-to-face way to engage with new people while pitching your business. You never know where your next client is going to come from, so always have your business cards on hand and your elevator pitch at the ready as you look for opportunities to:
- attend industry functions or join your local chamber of commerce,
- speak at business conferences, educational facilities, or trade shows, and
- offer consultative services or interviews that showcase your area of expertise
Member and industry associations are especially worth joining because they not only serve as a networking venue, they often provide the chance to acquire or upgrade skills that can help differentiate you in the eyes of potential clients.
5. Turn Existing Customers into New Clientele
If it’s not part of your standard business process to ask happy customers for reviews and referrals, it should be. Word-of-mouth advertising is essentially cost-free and requires little effort on your part to promote your company’s qualities. It can also be well worth your while to reconnect with previous buyers to help grow your customer base. Not only is it easier to attract return customers than it is to find new ones, it’s usually a lot less expensive.
Remember, there’s little point in attracting new customers if you’re feeling challenged to keep the ones that you have. In today’s “switching economy”, a lack of good customer service is all it takes for many consumers to adopt a new product or service provider. Make sure you have a customer retention strategy in place before you invest in expanding your customer base.