There comes a point in every business’s journey when you need to think about increasing the awareness of your brand and bringing in new customers. On the other hand, focusing on the people that already buy from you is sometimes a more efficient and sustainable way to increase revenues, and will keep your business resilient in the long run.
Understand what your customers like about you
Your existing customers buy from you for a reason. Maybe it’s because your products are cheaper than your competitors’. Maybe it’s your excellent customer service, higher quality products, or your beautifully designed space that they want to spend time in. Ideally, it should be a combination of several things.
Take some time to fully understand why your customers come to you and not a competitor, and then build on that throughout the customer experience in your business. Imagine you own a coffee shop in a convenient location like a train station; can you offer even more convenience for your customers by adding breakfast foods to your range, or with contactless payments to keep the queue moving quickly?
Engage your audience
Letting your customers know that their voices are heard and you value their opinions is an effective path to fostering loyalty. And, fortunately, it’s also relatively inexpensive for growing businesses. Developing a content marketing strategy using a blog on your website and social media platforms is a cost efficient way to start raising your business’s profile, and to get your customers to engage with your brand on a deeper level.
You know what your customers like about you, so your content should reflect those qualities as well as include other things that might appeal: if your customers visit your cafe because they like the beautifully designed space, feature images of other design work that share a similar aesthetic.
Developing your content marketing also provides you with an opportunity to encourage a dialogue with your customers and receive their feedback. Is there a new product or service they want to see added to your line? Are there ways they think you could improve their experience of your business?
Social media channels provide plenty of opportunity to benefit your business, but there’s also potential for individual complaints to get public, quickly. Nip negative reviews or comments in the bud by apologising and asking to take the conversation private, and resolve the issue as best you can. A personal touch and excellent service when handling complaints can avert the damage of a negative review and might even persuade the customer to return to you.
Capitalise on word-of-mouth
Your best marketing tool is your customer base. Research by Engagement Labs cites word of mouth as the most trusted source of information by consumers when making purchasing decisions.*
Gaining the trust of your existing customers and incentivising them to recommend you to their friends can be an easy way to encourage new business through your door. Consider offering a referral incentive, such as a discount for customers who recommend a friend to your business (after the friend has spent money with you). But plan it carefully, making sure that it’s ultimately still beneficial for your business model, and not something that can be easily exploited by people looking for freebies.
When to spend on marketing
There is a wealth of ways to market your business, from traditional print advertising or PR campaigns to social media. And the best strategy will vary hugely from business to business. Make sure you’re being consistent in your branding. The tone of voice, specific words you use and aesthetic style of images on social media should be consistent with your website and physical store.
If yours is a business that needs to reach scale quickly, you may want to consider investing in advertising to get your brand in front of new customers. If you’re trying to target a more specific or discerning market, PR might be the route to go down. If you are planning to roll out a mass marketing campaign to significantly grow your customer numbers, be sure that your business is ready and has the capacity to meet the demand – lack of preparation could lead to a poor experience for new customers, which is unlikely to see them return.