NEW Business? NEW Customers!
Building up a satisfied, happy customer base is always a fabulous feeling when starting a new business, but let's face it - more is always more! Successful businesses are always hungry for new customers, but acquiring them isn't always easy. In this article we will show you methods of acquiring those most wanted new customers.
Here at Shore, our mission is to support new businesses with their growth as much as we possibly can, not only via our software but with valuable business advice too. So on that note, here are our seven best practises for acquiring new customers, without neglecting the ones you already have.
1. Use market research to find out what your customers want
You've no doubt created your new business because you feel there's a gap in the market for your products or services - but are you sure that your customers really want what you have to offer? Market research is crucial to a successful new business because it helps you get to grips with the wants and needs of your target audience. Not only can it help to guide the types of products or services you offer, but it will also allow you to shape your marketing strategies to showcase your business in the most appealing way.
Let's say you're a personal trainer. Market research into your local market could tell you things like the age and gender of people interested in your services. It could help you figure out how much people would expect to pay for personal training sessions. You may be able to find out whether people want one-off fitness sessions, crash courses, or ongoing weekly training.
You might learn that potential customers would be interested in fitness and nutrition packages, or that people would like to purchase gift vouchers for training sessions. With all this knowledge in mind, you can adapt the personal training services you offer and create targeted marketing messages along with it that will appeal to the real wants and needs of both existing and potential new customers.
2. Word of mouth
Few recommendations are more compelling than those given by the people you know and trust, so don't underestimate the power of word of mouth when it comes to acquiring new customers. It's important to note though that customers will only talk about you if they genuinely like your business. After all, would you recommend a product or service to a friend if the quality wasn't up to scratch or the customer care was less than perfect?
By being the very best that you can be, not only will you make your existing customers happy, but you'll also naturally encourage them to rave about your business to friends, family or even the whole world via Twitter and Facebook. You can find more detailed tips on harnessing word of mouth in our blog about using customer satisfaction to your advantage.
3. Set up social media
Social media has so many wonderful benefits so if you haven't already created a social presence, make it a priority. Social media gives you an excellent platform to showcase all that your business has to offer. It allows you to really express your brand's personality as you engage directly with both old and new customers. When you get customer enquiries (or even complaints - it happens to every business, no matter how great they are) you have the opportunity to show off your excellent customer service, which will give your reputation a brilliant boost. Plus, it gives you access to huge amounts of potential new customers.
Every time an existing customer engages with your brand publicly on social media, that customer's friends and followers will see it. The more people see and hear your brand, the more likely they will be to think of you when in need of whatever it is you have to offer. To really take advantage of this, you can increase exposure with things like competitions or special offers which encourage customers, both old and new, to share your content. So, get on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or wherever it is that your customers are, and join the conversation.
4. Partner with local businesses
When starting a new business you'll want all the support you can get, not only from family and friends but fellow business folk too. By partnering with a local business which works in a similar industry to your own, you can share in each other's successes and expose each other's products and services to new audiences. If, for example, you just opened up a new hairdresser business, it would make sense for you partner up with a local beauty salon - the two services go hand in hand, and it's very likely that someone who is a regular at the beauty salon would love a recommendation for a new, talented hair stylist.
Partnering with local businesses can go beyond just making recommendations for each other, though. You could create special offers together (such as a manicure and blow dry package offer), collaborate on events to get people down to both your premises, or even swap databases in order to share valuable insights into your customers. Befriend several different businesses in your local area and together you can seek out the best opportunities for harnessing new customers.
5. Optimize your website
A website is always a priority for new businesses, but there's little point in having your own online space if nobody can find it. Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the process of optimising your site and content with key search terms to increase the chances of people finding it when looking for products or businesses like yours.
Be sure to make local search a priority, because that's how you'll be able to target new customers in your area. Compile lists of location-specific keywords and create content which naturally incorporates these terms while remaining engaging and compelling for the reader.
Make the most of online directories too, since many people will turn to these resources to seek out local businesses. Set up a Google Business page relevant to your business.
6. Be creative with your marketing materials
Business cards, leaflets, discount cards, vouchers and your other marketing materials will help you to get the name of your business out there, but only if they stand out among the crowd. Remember that every other business is using similar tactics to spread awareness of their business, so you have to be creative. Think about all the business cards you have collected over the years - could you remember every person or brand just by their card? Are there any that really stick out in your mind? What makes them different?
Your business card should be something your customers and potential new customers remember and keep safe, so have some fun with your design to make it memorable. The same goes with discount cards or loyalty cards too - make sure yours stands out among the pack in your customer's wallet.
7. Set up a referral scheme for new customers
Remember when we talked about the power of word of mouth recommendations in tip number two? Well, to help this process along, you can offer incentives to existing customers and reward them for raving about your business. Of course this could just be a verbal agreement ("Tell them to mention your name when they call and I'll give you 10% off your next treatment!") or it could be done online through your website; each customer could have a unique referral code, and when it is used by new customers their reward will be credited to their online account.
No matter how you set up your referral scheme, be sure to always follow through on your promises for rewards. That means keeping customer data organised and up to date so that you always know who's entitled to special offers or discounts. This could also allow you to offer ad-hoc rewards or messages of thanks to customers who have made an exceptional number of referrals - little surprises like this go a long way in showing customers just how grateful you are for their loyalty.
Starting a new business is tough, particularly when it comes to attracting new customers, but above all else it's exciting, so have fun! Don't forget that common courtesy and friendliness go a long way in business, and with the right communication tools on hand you'll be able to engage with both existing and new customers in a way that makes both of you happy and satisfied in your relationship. Most importantly, be sure to record and file your customers' data in an organised way so that whenever you need to get in touch, you can always have the right information on hand when and where you need it.
At Shore, we make customer success and happiness our priority and in doing so, we can help you do the same - see what our customers have to say about us below. Or, check out our EBooks for more information for new, thriving businesses like yours.
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