Without customers, you don’t have a business. They’re the lifeblood of your success and that’s why generating leads and retaining current customers is essential.
But how do you keep generating new leads? It’s something many small business owners worry about. We’ve got some top tips for lead generation to help you boost your customer base.
Understand your customers, both current and potential
Gaining customer insight is such a worthwhile strategy. Finding out and understanding the needs of your customers will give you the knowledge you need to meet – and even exceed them.
Gaining a reputation for understanding your customer base will also help you to stand out from the crowd. Being one step ahead of their needs allows you to target them in a profitable way and personalise your customer offering. This is particularly true of small businesses which can provide a fully personalised service.
This approach works equally well for business partners and consumers, leading to balanced relationships.
Time management: look for new business and support current clients
Simply put, there are two ways to increase business. One is encouraging your customers to spend more, and the other is getting out there and winning new business.
Split your time wisely and focus on both. If you find yourself concentrating more on one of the two areas, then re-evaluate and redress the balance. Both are important to increase your customer base, your reputation, and your bottom line.
Always provide great customer service
The only way to get customers to return again and again is to deliver great customer service – every time. Research shows that 78% of people are prepared to walk away from a sale if they feel they are experiencing bad customer service.
Getting it right has a hugely positive affect on your customers. Keep evaluating your customer service and work with social media so that you can do the same online.
Network, network, network!
Word of mouth is a powerful thing and recommendations are invaluable. With the proliferation of online customer reviews and public appraisal by customers, this is more important than ever. Talk to your customers, deliver great service and products and the word will spread, both on and offline.
Partner with other businesses
It is inevitable that your customer will have ongoing relationships with other businesses. This is an opportunity for you. Partnering with companies that offer services that complement yours can help you to reach out to new customers and please existing ones. Keep your eyes open for opportunities and be flexible and open to new ideas.
Use social media wisely
There’s no doubt that social media has revolutionised our world. It now affects not only social interaction but shopping, banking, health, fitness, and pretty much everything else. There are endless ways to get new business and customers through judicious use of online tools such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and online blogs.
Tie them in to your ongoing PR and marketing plan and invest time in making the most of the new conversations and connections they can bring. They can pay off hugely.
Always think big
As a small company, it can seem intimidating to approach a large one with a view to collaboration. But building this into your networking can be extremely worthwhile. Many big businesses recognise that small companies can offer real value and are often cheaper to work with. This level of interaction can affect your customer base and the longevity of your business in many positive ways.
Work with your strengths
Every business is unique. What works for one won’t necessarily work for another. Take the time to experiment with various marketing techniques and adapt your strategy to what works best for you. If you’re finding certain approaches aren’t working them don’t worry about dropping them. Being flexible and evolving your strategy as opportunities present themselves is a good way to stay relevant and increase your customer base.
Be prepared to adapt as you grow
Trying new ways to interact with your customers should be an ongoing venture. Even if something hasn’t worked in the past, be prepared to try it again under different circumstances. As your company becomes more established, it could be that your customer focus changes and you need to interact with different areas.
Keep monitoring what works – and what doesn’t
Don’t become complacent with your outreach strategy. Keep monitoring, checking and analysing so that you can shift focus when you need to. Sources of value may change along the way, and constant refining of your approach is vital to ongoing success.