From small start-ups to established corporations, all businesses have one thing in common. They rely on their customer base to grow. Today, it takes a multi-faceted approach to marketing to remain competitive. Even local businesses must compete for their share of the customers. Inspiring customer loyalty motivates your base to stay with you. But before that happens, you have to make them aware of your product or service in the first place. Your strategy for increasing your customers should start well before they make their first purchase.
What Is a Customer Base?
Your customer base is the lifeblood of your business. It’s made up of the customers who buy your products or services. Every type of business has a customer base, no matter what products or services they provide. That includes retail stores, medical or legal practices, landscaping companies, and swimming pool installers. The larger your customer base, the more revenue you have coming into your company.
Today, most experts agree that brand awareness plays a big role in building your customer base. Brand awareness results from customers recognizing your brand and recalling it later. Once a customer has a need for a product, they search for a product that meets their needs. If their research leads them to you and your business, you make a sale. Their happiness with their purchase determines whether they’ll buy from you when they have the same need again.
Your brand name and logo lead to brand recognition. Most of us buy the same brands regularly. We get the same soft drinks, jeans, and even automobiles. When we go out of town, we look for our favorite restaurants. We know the brands and what to expect from them. That’s what you want to accomplish with your customers.
Identifying Your Customer Base
Whether your business caters to local customers or those around the world, most products and services appeal to people within certain demographics. You must understand who the customer is and how they make their purchases. Sometimes the answer isn’t what you’d think! For example, a business that offers dementia care focuses on seniors. However, it’s usually the adult children or another family member who makes the decisions for their loved one.
Why does it matter? Knowing the age, sex, income, and social position of your target customers tells you what kind of information they want. Children of dementia patients want to know if dementia care is the best thing for their aging parent. They want to know how much safer they’ll be with supervision.
In contrast, a business that caters to retired seniors would take a different approach. They would provide information on their property’s luxury features and activities. Although both types of businesses offer senior care, the seniors looking for a new carefree home are the target customers. You can’t increase your customer base until you know who you’re dealing with.
One advantage of serving customers in a physical store is that you see who your customers are. Online retailers have to make a little more effort to connect with their customers. But there are some online tools you can use to identify your target customer. Once you have a profile, it’s time to start growing your numbers.
Some simply brilliant ways to increase your customer base are…
1. Build a Good Website
One of the biggest mistakes businesses make today is thinking they don’t need a website. This is especially true for local businesses that serve only a percentage of local customers. Many take the advice to get a social media page and stop there. Without a website, social media visitors have nowhere to go.
It’s true, Google has impacted local businesses by replacing local search results with their own interfaces. There’s even talk that Google is the new “homepage” for local businesses. Without getting into the technical details, these changes make having a strong website more important than ever. Some factors that make a website strong are exceptional usability, relevant content, and onsite optimization.
Very few businesses today have the market on the products or services they sell. Almost everyone has competition. It’s a business’s ability to stand out and get noticed that determines how much of the pie they get.
If you have a small grocery store, a local dry cleaner, or a bakery, your onsite presence matters. That’s because most people use their cell phones to find the local services they want. Without a website, they’re going to pass you by. They’re also going to look at any reviews that pop up. Your website is the foundation for everything else you do to grow your customer base. Whatever your marketing strategy, “all roads lead home.”
2. Offer a Free Newsletter
A newsletter provides your customers with valuable information. Sharing quality content helps build confidence in your knowledge of your industry. It also helps build trust. A newsletter is a valuable tool if you take the time and effort to get it right. But what is right for your business?
Most of us have signed up for newsletters to get a discount or to enter a contest. Often, we delete the newsletter when it arrives in our mailbox and are not really interested in any of the featured topics. Sometimes businesses stay too close to their operation to make the content interesting. If you repeat information they’ve heard before, your recipients will send the newsletter into the trash.
That said, you don’t want to stray too far from the main idea, either. The goal is to make it interesting enough to engage readers without getting away from the main topic. For example, a veterinarian who talks about every animal species on the planet is getting away from the animals most people bring into his practice. A veterinarian who specializes in small animal care might focus on dogs and/or cats. These are the most popular pets and there’s always exciting news about their care.
People are interested in content they can learn from. Try to strike a balance of 90% educational and 10% promotional. Even if your product really is the best thing since sliced bread, they don’t want to hear about it every time they receive your newsletter.
Another example using the small animal veterinarian: Flea and tick prevention becomes a big issue when the weather turns warm. With a wealth of products to choose from, pet owners don’t always know which ones they need. Instead of promoting their entire line of dog and cat flea prevention, vets might provide information on the types of parasites in the area. Some carry dangerous diseases that are harmful to pets and their owners. Don’t just tell them how well a product works. Tell them why it matters.
Don’t forget to implement your brand into your newsletter. Get customers used to seeing your name, logo, and colors that identify who you are.
One of the great things about newsletters is that they don’t take away from your marketing budget. It’s one of the most affordable branding tools available to any business online.
3. Interact with Your Customers
One piece of advice that’s grown more popular alongside social media is to build relationships with your customers. Check out the tools that help you connect with your customer base. Ask for their opinions and show your appreciation for sharing. Customers like to know you’re really listening to them. Thank them for sharing their positive experiences. Tell them what you’ll do to improve any negative ones. Consider using customer surveys to gather data on how customers see your business.
4. Keep Adding New Content to Your Website
You know that really great content you added to your website a few weeks ago? It’s already obsolete! You can’t expect customers to keep coming back to read the same information over and over. Keep new and interesting topics coming. Stay up on industry news and share new findings that will impact your customers’ lives.
People have short attention spans. If they visit your website and don’t find something of interest, they’ll go to the next one.
5. Create a Strong Social Media Presence
Although using social media isn’t enough on its own, it is an important part of a multi-faceted branding strategy. People use social media for everything these days. They share their activities, the menu for dinner, and their kids’ accomplishments. They also share information about the businesses they like and don’t like. Facebook is one of the most popular social media sites where users search for businesses and share what they like with hundreds of friends with the click of a button.
6. Always Give Excellent Support and Service
It isn’t just the quality of the product or service that grows your business. It’s also the quality of service you provide. Increasing your customer base means growing your business one customer at a time. That means treating each customer with respect. Take action when it’s required and always strive to keep them happy. They’re going to share their experiences whether good or bad. If every customer tells three friends about the service you offered, you want it to be good.
7. Divide Your Time Between Supporting Existing Customers and Looking for New Ones
Providing good customer service and listening to clients is one way you can help keep the customers you already have. Most businesses rely on both repeat business and an influx of new customers. You can’t increase your customer base if you’re just replacing old customers with new ones.
Sometimes businesses lose customers in spite of their best efforts. If you’re doing everything right, it might be due to factors beyond your control. When the economy changes or new technology comes along, people start spending their money differently. Think about ways you can adapt your business so it thrives when changes happen.
One of the most pertinent examples of this is the increased use of smartphones. It didn’t take long for cell phones to grow in popularity. Today, nearly every person has one and they use it for everything. Businesses had to adapt their websites to accommodate smaller screens. They included their listings in local searches and catered to the ways cell phone users do business.
8. Expand Your Product or Service Line
Some businesses have a lot fewer target customers available than others. Those that sell products around the globe literally have the world at their fingertips. Businesses that provide local services have the fewest potential customers. For example, a swimming pool installation company or hair salon is limited to customers within a confined area.
If you already have your fair share of the local market, you can still grow your customer base. All it takes it expanding your product line. A pool installation company might begin carrying pool care items, deck construction, or pool cleaning services for example. A small beauty salon might carry a line of cosmetics or hair care products that appeal to a broader customer base. Nearly every type of business has support products and services that they can expand on.
Another option is to “pair up” with another business. A reputable business in a related industry will instantly add to your offerings. It also expands the customer base for each of you. For example, that small animal veterinarian might partner with a local pet groomer. They could offer their services onsite during certain days and times. Pet owners will appreciate the convenience of getting their pets medical care and having them groomed in a single trip.
The same strategies don’t always work best for all types of businesses. Sometimes it takes some trial and error to find what works best for you. Start by increasing awareness and making your brand as visible to as many customers as possible. Make the internet a part of a multi-faceted marketing approach. Don’t forget the importance of using bold, highly visible signage to let your customers know what’s in your store.
Inflatable Gurus has a diverse range of products to help get your business noticed. Contact us for solutions that will help grow your customer base. Our range of inflatable product replicas, inflatable costumes, helium balloons, and vendor tents include everything you need to get your customers’ attention.