By Tallat Mahmood.
Every business needs a sustainable influx of customers if it wants to be successful.
In reality, there are literally hundreds of potential ways in which you can win new customers, but I want to highlight seven of the most practical, applicable and impactful.
1. Know your customer
If you have a clear understanding of who your customer is (and is not), then you can target engaged, interested prospects and improve your ability to win new customers.
Understanding the age, geographic location, education level and job title of your customer base also allows you to speak in the appropriate language that resonates and strikes the right chord. This is known as creating an avatar and will give you insight into where your customer hangs out, either online or offline.
I would encourage you to spend some time to think through who your most likely target customer is; what would they look like and what problems would they have that need solving? Be as detailed as you can so you can clearly imagine who will most likely buy from you.
2. Incentivize existing customers
The best ambassadors for your business are existing customers. They have already bought from you, and there’s no greater stamp of approval than when people put their money behind their opinions.
Incentivizing existing customers — through discounts on products in exchange for referrals, for example – works so well because those customers can tell their friends, who trust their taste, about you. This leads to quicker and higher conversions of prospects to paying customers.
Even in the digital age, effective networking remains one of the most powerful ways to bring in new customers and grow your business.
Networking in your niche is powerful not only because it allows you to understand changes in your sector, but it also puts you in touch with people who serve same customer base in one form or another. Hence, you can easily get introduced to new customer groups while developing a better understanding of exactly what it is they are looking for.
4. Explore different sales channels
Too many businesses fail to take advantage of online opportunities. For brick-and-mortar businesses, these opportunities could come in the form of online sales of their associated products. For example, if you are a local coffee shop and brew particular brands of coffee, then you might be able to sell globally via the internet.
However, for many businesses that sell exclusively online, selling offline can provide invaluable customer feedback in real-time and introduce you to a totally new customer base, typically on your doorstep.
5. Secure high-quality public relations
The right public relations (PR) strategy can be like stardust for your business, leading new customers directly to your door.
The appeal of the right PR is that it can reach thousands (or even millions) of prospects. Just make sure you identify the right forum on which to seek PR. Identify key publications in your niche and reach out to the editors to see if you can talk as an expert in your field and add value to them while, at the same time, raising the profile of your own business.
6. Explore different pricing models
Within your target market, there will always be prospects at different stages of their buying life cycle. In addition to those who are ready to buy, there will be those for whom what you offer is too expensive.
In such instances, figure out how you can acquire these customers: Having a lite version of your product, with less functionality and a smaller price tag, could help achieve this objective.
Deploying different pricing models can be a simple way to increase your overall customer base relatively quickly.
7. Paid advertising
In addition to the traditional TV, radio and press advertising, there are also online options such as pay-per-click and social media marketing.
Paid advertising can guarantee new customers to your business, but it comes at a cost. Hence, you should always start by identifying your objective from any paid advertising campaign. Is it to sell a product straight away? Add a prospect to your email list? Get people to engage with your website or content?
Once you have the objective identified, it is easier to allocate a budget and create realistic expectations for campaigns.
Whatever the size of your business, rest assured the companies you admire have utilized at least some of the above tactics. They can certainly help you as well.
Tallat Mahmood is the founder of The Smart Business Plan Academy, his online course on building powerful business plans for small and medium-sized businesses to help them grow and raise capital. Tallat has worked for more than 10 years as a small and medium-sized business advisor and investor.