Was one of your New Year's resolutions to get more customers? Every small business needs a steady stream of new business to keep it going—and growing. Here are six ways to attract more customers in 2017.
1. Reach out to dormant customers. One often-overlooked way to get new business is to contact former customers who haven’t purchased from you in a while. Use loyalty marketing software or customer relationship management (CRM) software to track your customers so you can automatically follow up with them when a certain time period has passed. Depending on your business and the nature of the relationship, you can reach out to them with a phone call, email or special offer. This is also a good time to find out why they stopped doing business with you. For example, perhaps they experienced bad service or poor product quality and never told you about it.
2. Get referrals. Word-of-mouth has always been a great source of new business for entrepreneurs. Accelerate yours by setting up a system for asking satisfied customers for referrals after every sale. For example, when you follow up with customers to make sure they’re satisfied with their purchases or to provide additional training, make it a habit to request referrals. You can also ask for referrals via email, inserts in paper bills or at the point-of-sale. Don’t stop at customers: ask friends, family, colleagues and even employees if they know anyone they can refer to your business.
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3. Offer a special for new customers only. This is a time-tested promotional tactic for a reason—it works. Try offering a two-for-one dinner special at your restaurant, a 30-day introductory membership to your karate studio or a free consultation with your accounting firm. You can either handle the offer yourself, or try using Groupon and similar services, which can help extend your reach. (Helpful tip: if you use such services, be sure to spread the deal over a long enough timeframe that your business doesn’t get overwhelmed. The goal is to attract new customers and wow them with your service so they’ll keep coming back—not to create angry customers because you ran out of product.)
4. Clean up your online presence. A few small changes to your business website and local search listings can make a huge difference in attracting more customers. Start by making sure your business website is mobile-friendly. Most people now look for businesses on their mobile phones, so if your website doesn’t display properly when they find you, they’ll look elsewhere. After that, improve your website SEO by making sure you’re using the proper keywords to attract the right type of customer. SEO can get tricky, so it’s worth enlisting professional help here. Finally, if your business relies on nearby customers, make sure you’re easy to find using local search - this means claiming your listings on local search directories, such as Google My Business, and making sure these listings are complete and accurate. It’s important to be consistent in the spelling and capitalization of your business’s name, address and phone number (NAP) across all your online listings. This means you shouldn’t spell out “Street” in one listing and “St.” in another.
5. Step up your digital marketing. Once your website, SEO and search listings are in order, investing in online advertising can help attract even more new customers. Try using pay-per-click (PPC) advertising—it’s easy to create your own ads that fit your budget. Plus, you pay only when someone clicks on your ad, so you know you’re getting results. Advertising on social media, such as Facebook or Pinterest, can also be very effective if your target customers spend a lot of time there. Social media advertising can target your ads very narrowly to specific customer groups, such as women who have children under age 5, live in St. Louis, and buy organic food.
6. Co-market with related businesses. Other businesses can be a great source of new customers. How? Look for businesses that are complementary, but not competitive. For instance, if you own a pet grooming business, complementary businesses might include a
veterinarian’s office, a dog-walking service, a doggy daycare or a pet-sitting business. Contact these businesses and ask if you can cross-promote with them. For instance, you link to each other’s websites, put the other company’s brochures or business cards at your point of sale, place ads for the other business in your email newsletters, or recommend each other to customers.
These six tips are set up to help you win new customers. Once they’re in the door, it’s up to you to provide the kind of outstanding service that will keep them coming back.
About Rieva Lesonsky
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.
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