Building Your Customer Base (Part 4): Acquiring new customers

Acquiring new customers

When it comes to increasing the size of your customer base, the first people you should look to are your most loyal customers. They are your best salespeople because they are more likely to recommend your business to others.

However, if you take the time to learn about them through profiling and communication this will help to tell you who you should be targeting next. Ideally, you should aim to get more customers that are just like the best customers that you already have.

Targeting prospects

You will find that when you are marketing well to your existing customers, you will very quickly start to pick up new ones. To get to this stage, you will have had to learn not only who your customers are but where they are. You will also have discovered what they like about your product or services, when they buy and what communications channels they use.

You then use this exact same information to deliberately target fresh customers through offers and promotions and through generating referrals from existing customers.

 

How and when to run special offers and promotions

Potential customers are much more likely to take the plunge and buy from you if you offer good incentives for them to do so. The classic ‘Buy-one-get-one-free’ is great if you have unsold stock to shift.

However there are many other incentives you can use, and understanding customer preferences is crucial when making offers and promotions.

For example:

  • Offering a product or service at a discounted rate when a customer buys a popular related product or service will increase your average sale value.
  • Selecting popular products as prizes for competitions and challenges will increase engagement and referrals, particularly online.

Getting the timing right is equally important. When do your customers most likely want to hear what you are offering?  Seasonal sales and external events such as national holidays can offer good hooks for promotions. So, too, can the release of a new and improved product or service.

Don’t just do it randomly: Have a reason to make the offer and stress the value and benefits your customer will gain by taking this offer up.

 

Use your customers themselves to increase your customer base

Nobody knows the other players in the marketplace better than your existing customers so find ways to get your customers to promote what you do, such as a financial incentive in order to find you new business. Companies like Amazon do this very well by creating an affiliate program; individuals promote your products and get paid a commission on every sale.

Referrals are always a really effective way of getting new customers.  76% of consumers cite word of mouth as their main influence when deciding on which product to buy.

The internet makes it particularly easy for businesses to find get referrals because more than a third of social media users have talked about brands online, and four out of five online retailers reported increased sales after adding comment features on their websites and product pages.

If you are selling or marketing online it makes sense to enable ‘social sharing’ on your website landing pages. You can even ask customers to leave a testimonial if you advertize in online directories.

Your aim is to be certain that wherever new customers are likely to encounter you – online or offline – they are able to read something positive about your business that’s been said by another customer.

To encourage feedback offer customers incentive schemes to refer you. For example you could offer a discount when someone introduces a new customer or an invitation to a product launch. Some businesses now use group buying as a way of encouraging people to share discounts with friends and family on social media sites.

There is always something you can offer your customers as a reward for helping you grow your customer base.

 

Missed the earlier posts in this series? Check out: Customer ProfilingLeveraging Existing Customers, and How To Engage After The Sale.