Growing Your Business with YCN Series – #1: How to expand and improve your customer base with 2 key strategies
Growing your business means more cash for you now, and a higher sale price in the future when you decide to eventually sell your business.
At Your Consultancy Network, we’re here to help – over the next week, we will be providing 4 articles full of ideas to help you grow your business.
The 4 key areas covered in this series are:
- Expanding and improving your customer base (what this article will be focusing on)
- Finding new markets – with existing products or services
- Developing new products or services – to open new markets
- Improving profit
The overall approach to improving the customer base of your business involves focusing on improving your relationship with your existing customers and finding new customers (within the current market conditions).
FOCUSING ON EXISTING CUSTOMERS
- Target your best customers with offers. Identify the customers who generate the most profit for your business or who have the most potential for additional sales. Then, by actively engaging with these customers, you’re bound to significantly increase sales whilst working smarter, not harder. Find out how you can utilise the 80/20 rule in business.
- Research what else you can sell. Conduct online surveys or ask customers directly to discover what other products or services they might be interested in. For example, if you own a convenience store, ask staff to informally question customers at your checkout and to take note of what else they would like to be able to buy. Add some of these suggestions to your product or service line.
- Investigate creating a customer loyalty scheme. Building a loyalty system using points or loyalty cards is a great way to encourage more frequent purchases and track your customers’ buying habits with the data you collect. For example, if you run a winery, keep a record of your customers so each time they visit they can gather credit towards a free bottle of wine. This can also help identify sales opportunities.
- Create a customer database to target offers. Collecting customer emails or addresses enables you to contact them with special offers, new items or useful information. For example, if you had your own taxi business, you could email discounted fares to customers at slower times of the year. You can use a marketing platform to help create this database and distribute targeted information to your market segments.
- Train staff on ways to improve sales conversions. Ensure your business has friendly, helpful staff that are well trained to take advantage of converting enquiries into sales. Ways you can do this is by running in-house sales sessions or employing a sales consultant.
- Offer incentives for your staff to sell more. Help your staff on-sell to existing customers by offering incentives. For example, if you operated an adventure tourism business with multiple activities you could offer bonuses for selling certain products or increasing the average sale.
- Build a community through social media. Start a social media campaign (using whichever platforms are most relevant and used by your business) and talk about your business and its customers to increase the profile of your business and encourage additional purchases.
- Identify any cross-sell opportunities. List the products or services your customers have previously bought and then match complementary items that you could sell to them and contact them with relevant offers. Always encourage customers to consider buying a higher net margin product or service.
- Review your business plan. Go over your business plan to evaluate and update anything that’s recently changed. Check you’re still on track for your growth goals and make any necessary adjustments. At YCN, we can assist with reviewing your business plan and provide feedback tailored to your business needs.
FINDING NEW CUSTOMERS
(WITHIN THE CURRENT MARKET)
- Use direct marketing that gets results. Measure the response rates to each area of your direct marketing campaign, whether it be email advertising, direct mail, or online click-throughs. Invest more of your marketing budget into what gets results – for example, if you’re an electrician, consider doing a mail drop in your local area, advertising your services.
- Find ways to generate word of mouth. Build up positive word of mouth referrals by getting testimonials from customers, encouraging regulars to refer their friends or family to your business, speaking at events, and networking inside chambers or business associations. For example, if you own a travel agency that offers escorted tours to Europe, get feedback from your customers and ask to use some of their quotes on your website.
- Create exclusive offers. Create an introductory offer for new customers only. Sacrifice your regular profits to gain loyal customers that will buy again on a regular basis.
- Increase your profile through online directories. To increase your online presence, list your business on the most popular online directories, such as Yelp. Alternatively, use these resources to uncover potential new customers (especially through industry directories).
- Increase web traffic by improving your search engine optimisation (SEO). SEO will help increase your website’s traffic leading to a growth in your customer base. Spend some time determining your site’s keywords and keyword phrases so it attracts the right traffic for your business.
- Purchase search keywords to improve your online exposure. Consider paying for search engine marketing (SEM) so that when customers search for your business products your web address is more likely to come up than others. For example, if you’re a Lawyer catering to small businesses, you might find there’s a lot of competition so think about paying for an ad that appears on the first search page.
- Use Instagram to display your business. Instagram allows you to visually tell the story of your business and its offerings through images. When potential customers like your product or service images (which can be linked to your other social media accounts), you might get an avalanche of views.
- Create regular blogs. Keep your content fresh and updated by writing regular blogs (like we are at YCN!) about your business, your people, and successful case studies. Regular blog content can be important for increasing your SEO and driving traffic to your website.
- Run demonstrations or workshops to educate clients. Run demonstrations, workshops or events to showcase your business to existing or new customers. For example, if you’re a martial arts instructor going it alone, create a series of workshops to show potential clients the skills and benefits of learning through you.
- Network by joining business associations. Networking with like-minded business individuals is crucial to managing the right business contacts in your industry. Uncover potential customers by attending industry events.
- Create a targeted marketing plan. Outline a specific marketing strategy that’s aimed at new customer segments. Then develop a precise advertising plan to build awareness and encourage purchases. For example, if you’re targeting truck drivers, create a billboard theme that plays on words and back that up with occasional radio adverts.
- Why not book in for a 30-minute meeting with YCN to help you with brainstorming the above ideas and create a tailored Action Plan to help you expand and improve your customer base – leading to higher profits and increased value of your business!
- Also, keep a look out for the next article in this Growing Your Business with YCN Series! We’ll be providing tips on finding new markets with your existing products or services.