One of the questions I am frequently asked when consulting with small business owners is "How can I get more customers?”
I usually respond by asking them what are they doing to maximize their existing customer base.
Many people are often surprised by this response because it is common to overlook their most valuable asset. Whether you operate, own or manage a small business, part of your marketing efforts should be targeted at maximizing your existing customer base. Your database of clients and customers holds a wealth of information that can and should be used to generate additional profits.
A great deal of time, effort and financial resources are often devoted to customer acquisition.
However, I often find that little effort is used to get the most mileage possible out of existing customers. Many small business owners often forget these are people who already know and trust them and are far more likely to buy from them in the future than someone they have not dealt with previously. Therefore it just makes good business sense to develop those relationships and thereby reduce your marketing costs on future sales to that customer.
This can be accomplished in a variety of ways.
Here are a few tips:
• Send out service reminders that tell your client it's time to come back in for their services, or send reminders about upcoming sales and events. This can be done in the form of a postcard, an e-mail, a blog post on your website if you have one or through your favorite social media outlet.
• Use your customer contacts to provide discounts and promotions and keep them coming back for more. Once they see that you are helping them to save money, you will have earned their trust and they'll want to maintain a relationship with you.
• Do not be afraid to ask your customers for referrals. The best time to do this is right after they have made a purchase and their excitement level is probably at the highest. You may even want to develop a customer referral program. It does not have to be anything elaborate. It could be something as simple as offering your existing customers a discount or other small freebie for every referral that they send you. Remember there is always a cost in acquiring new customers and the low-cost of using this method makes it a no-brainer. These referrals are usually much higher-quality leads because they have already been personally recommended by someone they know, so there is a built-in trust factor that is very valuable.
• Put together a newsletter online and e-mail it to your customers. You can include coupons or other promotional ideas in it. An actual physical newsletter can be mailed to customers as well, but it may not be cost-effective depending on your business and client base characteristics. A postcard can carry a message and be used as an inexpensive way to reach out to your existing customers. The postage is relatively cheap and despite the fact that this is very low-tech, it can still be quite effective because everybody is using e-mail and customers get bombarded all the time. When I receive a physical postcard in my mailbox, that business stands out in my mind because not many people are using this method.
So remember next time you're asking yourself how you can get more customers, look at those you are ready have. Develop creative ways to build additional trust, provide greater value and increase your local community presence. You will find a greater sense of satisfaction by strengthening your existing followers while reducing your overall marketing costs in the process.
Barry Craft is the founder and CEO of Your Marketing Crew, LLC. Please visit their website and download a free copy of their Small Business Survival Guide and discover what it takes to survive in this tough economy.