Any business owner will want to see their enterprise grow and prosper: for the small business growth must be achieved organically. There are many ways to drive organic growth, such as selling more goods and services per customer, increasing prices and upselling. However, your focus should be on increasing the number of customers. If you can do this, then your other strategies for growth will be all the more effective because they will be working from a larger customer base.
Exactly how you intend to win and retain more customers should be a central component of your marketing plan. Firstly, you will need to decide on your demographic. For example, are you targeting a particular age group or social class? Do you intend to appeal just to your local area or a wider geographic spread?
Once you have identified your target customers, you should give some thought to market research. This needn’t be expensive or time-consuming; it might just mean a few hours spent strolling round your competitors’ shops. However, it is often worth the effort to gather information using some kind of survey. This could be a physical feedback form, or perhaps an online survey using social media may be more appropriate.
Having better identified your customers’ needs, there are many different ways to increase your customer base. One option is to use local newspapers or radio to advertise. Another possibility is to sponsor local events such as marathons or bike races. Even throwing an open day at your premises with the offer of free samples and balloons for the kids can bring in a whole new group of customers. Any activities of this kind will increase public awareness of your business and enhance your reputation.
Remember that winning new customers is only half the battle – you will also need to work hard to keep both new and old customers coming back time after time. In a market place that is increasingly crowded with online competition, you should look at ways to make your customers feel valued as individuals. Fortunately, most local businesses have a lasting business relationship with their customers, but it’s getting harder to do in the current environment.
One popular strategy is to contact customers directly and offer some kind of discount to revisit your business. Ask your customers what they would like to see you provide in terms of new and different products and they will feel that you really care about their needs. Consider offering some form of loyalty scheme, such as the loyalty cards offered by large supermarkets, as these can also work effectively for small businesses.
Hopefully the advice above will help you grow and retain a thriving customer base. This is just a start, so don’t forget to search online regularly for further marketing tips.