Last week, in the article Growing Your Business, we talked about how to do a check-up on your business to make sure you are running it in the best possible way to realise its full potential. Defining yourself, identifying your customer base, and analysing your flaws and good points are the three ways identified for the check-up, but there are many more steps to growing your business. Increasing your sales is the most obvious, but in many ways it can be the most difficult. Here are some tips and ideas for boosting your sales and bringing in new customers.
Debut New Products or Services. After you brand yourself, a good thing to do is brainstorm new products or services you can offer to customers. Having more to offer brings old customers back in to peruse and buy more items from you. More options also help guarantee that you have something for every type of consumer. What may appeal to one customer won’t necessarily appeal to everyone so the more variety, the greater breadth of interests you can cover. Another thing to consider is that customers always want the latest and greatest products on the market, so even just reinventing a product you already have will bring in some new customers (think the Iphone- each new model brings in old customers who must have the newest phone available). Whatever you do, just remember to keep your products or services consistent and in line with some theme and your customer base. The goal is to have people think of your company when they think of something within that theme.
Market Yourself. As we’ve discussed here numerous times, well-defined advertising and marketing are very important to the small business owner. The small business owner doesn’t necessarily have the funds to run huge marketing campaigns on television and in magazines, so targeted advertising gets the business’s name out there while allowing the business owner to focus the available funds where they are required.
There are three main ways to advertise: print, social networking, and online. The easiest way to decide which method is best for you is to look at the products or services you provide and the customers you typically have. For more traditional fields of industry or older generation consumers, print marketing will be much more beneficial. Listing yourself with trade associations and writing articles relating to your industry or field will help get your name out there and that will go a long way towards bringing in new customers. Many trade associations continue to publish print newsletters and journals so look into publishing with them. Mailbox flyers or mailings are also good ways to reach out to consumers and make them aware of your business. Posting these flyers in places that your consumers might frequent will further increase your company’s presence.
If you appeal to a teenage/young adult crowd, social networking may be a good choice for you. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, these are all virtual marketplaces where your customers are gathering. Having accounts with these sites allows you to create a page where people can find out more information about you and “follow” you. Facebook also allows companies to do advertising with its site, further increasing your presence in the social media scene. Another way of reaching out to your consumers is through a phone application created specifically for your company. A phone app could allow customers to purchase your product through the phone or to browse through your products.
Online marketing is a good catch-all for all types of consumers, and if you don’t have a website already, creating one should be a top priority. Many people look online to find companies in their areas before setting out, and if you’re not online, they’re not finding you. Having a website with at least your contact information allows customers to find you and come in to your establishment. Another way to make yourself visible online is to ensure you are listed with popular review based type websites, such as yelp. Many people now don’t bother with searching for websites, they go straight to these review websites to find the information they need. If you sell a product, giving your customers the opportunity to shop and/or order online could also be a huge bonus to your company. Just remember who your customers are and shape your marketing around them!
Take Advantage of Happy Customers. Word of mouth is one of the best forms of increasing your sales and it’s all free! You should already be identifying customers that have had good experiences with your business and trying to learn what made the experience so positive for them, but if you’re not, a quick customer satisfaction survey is convenient to institute and very beneficial for you. Out of these responses, find the people who really had the best experience (9 or 10 rankings on a 1-10 scale) and target them as your advocates since these people will be the most beneficial for you and are typically the most inclined to pass on good comments. Then, take your targets and encourage them to tell customers about your business. One of the prime examples of this is to offer discounts to a current customer when new customers come in and say they’ve referred them. Also, encourage your satisfied customers to write product reviews by having forums for your advocates to share their good experiences with interested customers. One customer’s good experiences is very persuasive in bringing in other customers.
As a business owner, you can never have too many customers. The business owner’s focus should always be a little bit on how to encourage old customers to come back and new customers to come in for the first time. These are three ways of bringing in new customers, but there are a variety of other methods to consider. New and interesting is always key!