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Cheap and simple ways to attract and grow your customer base.

Without customers, any business is as good as dead.

One of key drivers in any business’ value is the value of its customers and the more customers one has, the more sales and profit they will make. No matter how great your product or service, your business will not make any money unless customers are willing to buy them. No customers, no business. Period!

However, growing your customer base is much easier said than done.  Most businesses experience hard times or fail, not because customers do not want to buy their products, but because customers don’t even know their products/services exist in the first place.

For of these businesses, marketing and advertising is a huge problem. The traders fail to identify simple, cheap and highly effective ways to market and advertise their products and services.

Remember, your key focus and time should be split between keeping existing customers happy so that they keep coming back, and identifying opportunities to attract new customers.

To increase your customer base, it is necessary to stay in constant contact with potential and existing customers and the more value your business can offer, the more likely they will remain loyal.

Below are some simple ways to bring in more customers and increase your customer base.

1. Get out of your comfort zone.

If you are having trouble expanding your customer base, you may be inadvertently narrowing your focus—and with that, missing the mark with potential new customers.

If you are pitching your business in the same way that you always have, it’s no surprise that you’re having trouble reaching new customers.

You need to “go against the grain and defy expectations,” Selling is the transfer of trust, so instead of relying on a sales pitch you are comfortable with, focus first on building a relationship with the potential customer.

Building trust is one of the key ways to reach new customers. Once you have earned their trust, you have also earned their ear. At that point, you can begin to educate them on recognising the superior value of your product.

2. Know what sets you apart.

The secret to a successful business is to understand what attracts customers towards your business in the first place. What is it about your business that sets it above the competitors? What are your unique selling point (USP)? Whatever it was that initially wooed your customers will keep them coming back for more.

Once you know that, it’s far easier to build a customer base and to keep it loyal. It could be price, quality, reliability or responsiveness to problems when they arise (and they will).

3. Be seen.

Visibility is key. Whether it is signage, online presence or a social media profile, you have to be easily found.

After that comes the price (and how competitive that is) linked to quality. People will pay more for better goods – it’s all about value for money. Finally is the feedback from other customers.

If you are seeking repeat business – and to stimulate word-of-mouth recommendations to attract new ones – it’s essential you offer the best service and make sure social media comments are good. If there is a complaint, put it right straight away.

4. Get Social.

Social media is changing the way business is done in today’s world. There were more than 6.7 million social media users in Kenya in 2017, up 31% from 2016 – and growing.

Advertising your business on platforms like Facebook and Twitter is a great way to keep your existing customers engaged and to tell potential customers about your offerings. When you use social media to drive customers back to your website, it can also help to improve your search rankings and, therefore, your organic growth.

When you create new content, launch a new product or run a new campaign, be sure you share this across the social media channels you are active in. There is no easier way to grow your customer base than providing value and then having your customers promote your brand for you.

5. Leverage your existing network

Never underestimate the power of word of mouth and referrals in organically growing your business. Authenticity, relationships and trust are powerful currencies in today’s over-saturated markets. 

Attend networking events and trade expos in your area. Your existing network may be the best place to reach out to, as their good word of mouth will help grow your customer base.

Develop a core group of customers, especially within your target market, that can make referrals; referrals are strong leads. For instance, if you have set up a sports equipment shop, then you should try to join as many sports related groups as possible.

Also join your local chamber of commerce or business associations. Get out there and meet new people.

6. Continue expanding your network

While relying on your existing network to expand your customer base is great, you may eventually wind up out of new leads. When you find yourself in this situation, you may need to look to expanding your network.

You can have a great idea and a great business structure, but if you do not have contacts that might be interested in helping you, it’s impossible to succeed.

How do you go about growing your network?

Attend networking events, join organisations, form partnerships and also take advantage of popular social media platforms that will assist you grow your network.

Form strategic alliances with businesses that offer complementary products or services to instantly access a new audience. For instance, if you offer a device repair services, consider partnering with a company that sells accessories.

7. Try offering free trials to new customers.

One very practical tactic to acquiring new customers is by offering them a free trial of your product. People love free stuff. Giving away some of your products and services for free does three very positive and interesting things for your small business:

First, it lets people out there know that you exist.

Second, it gives you a chance to prove the value of your product or service and show that it really works.

Third, it provides your future customers with a risk-free way to try out your products or service without spending any money. And if customers find value in your products or services, they will be 
willing to pay money for it.

For instance, if you own a bakery, invite passers-by into your store to experience the smells and sample some treats. The experience might be enough to convince them to buy a whole cake.

Delight customers with ‘no strings-attached’ experiences and there is a good chance you will convert them into paying customers. But try to get something in return, like an email address for your marketing database.

Free trials are a great way to market, since they attract new customers and garner good reviews and testimonials. By offering free trials, you can show them the value of what you have to offer and convert them into paying returning customers later.

Instill in this potential customer the value of your product, and make it clear that your product or service is truly exemplary. Offer great service, and you will likely be able to convert them into loyal customers.

8. Offer discounts and deals.

Just like free stuff, discounts and deals work well too. They are another creative and low cost way to attract more customers to your business.

People often see discounts and deals as a huge opportunity to save money and enjoy a product or service for a whole lot less.

In fact, discounts and deals usually influence customers to buy more products or services than they initially planned. They love to ‘take the opportunity’ because the same products may not be so cheap tomorrow.

Offering deals and discounts are also a powerful way to publicise your brand. For a little cost, small businesses can reach thousands of potential customers through the good discounts and deals they offer.

9. Showcase your expertise.

If your expertise can solve a problem for customers or help them do something faster, why not give it to them for free?

Set up a YouTube channel for your bakery, share baking tips and tricks on social media platforms and take your audience behind the scenes into your kitchen.

Humans are naturally curious and want to know how things work. Show them and you will have a captive audience, ready to buy.

10. Increase your customer base by asking for opinions

People are happy to express themselves and often enjoy telling you about their online and offline experiences.

You can prepare some survey through simple questionnaire to conduct industry research, customer experience or measure customer satisfaction.

11. Target your marketing.

It’s a bit like job-hunting: a one-approach scattergun tactic rarely works. So it is with winning and retaining customers – you have to target.

One of the most common mistakes businesses make is that they take a far too generic approach. Producing literature and blasting it out to potential customers won’t work even if your product is standardised. You have to know who your customer is and the reason they will buy.

Do your research and find out who, in reality, is the decision maker. You have to understand what the problem is in your customer’s life that you are attempting to solve. What value are you adding?

12. Keep your website/Social media content fresh.

Fresh and informative content is one of the main elements that pull in new visitors and potential customers. Keep your content fresh by publishing a blog that reports the latest business news, key-takeaways from whitepapers and hot topics within your industry. Your social media platforms should also be up-to-date and a real source of information to your target audience.

Fresh content will also help your website be found in search engines and make your social media platforms relevant and attractive to so many people.

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