7 Ways To Win New Customers!

7 Ways To Win New Customers!

Every Business needs a little inspiration from time to time - so here's 7 Ways To Win New Customers | www.bigthinkingonline.com

New customers, clients or patients are the lifeblood of any business.

For small businesses in particular, keeping a steady flow of new clients coming through on top of serving existing clients and tackling the day to day running of your business can be a constant struggle.

 

So, for any business that needs an injection of inspiration as to how to continually attract those new faces, here are some of the best tactics to add to your toolbox.

 

  1. Ask Your Customers To Refer Other People They Know.

Asking for referrals is definitely something that you should be doing. If you have given a great service to someone and they are happy, the chances are that they will know more people in a similar position to themselves who may also need your services.

 

If you ask every customer you work with to refer 3 people you know, you then get a “warm” introduction to a new group of people who will already have heard good things about you from their friend.

 

  1. Follow Up With Old Leads

We’ve all lost out on a few customers in our time, but getting a no doesn’t have to mean that you’ll never get a yes. It’s always worth keeping up a good relationship with anyone who you have never quite done business with, because as circumstances and requirements change you could find that you have another opportunity.

 

Similarly, just because that person wasn’t the right client for your business doesn’t mean that they won’t know someone else who might be – referrals can come from anywhere, but they typically come if you ask for them!

 

  1. Build Up A List Of Email Subscribers.

A list of email addresses allows you to stay in regular contact with a huge number of people cheaply and simply and in a non-intrusive manner. An email list is a great way to send out updates about what your business is working on, offers that might entice people back to you and most importantly, it’s a great way for you to build your authority by offering incredible value and be seen as the thought leader in your niche.

 

The next time that person needs something along the lines of what you do, they’ll remember your details because they see your emails and know that you can help, and that you want their business.

 

  1. Be Active On Social Media. 

No matter what your business is, social media is the main place where all your customers will be online. For many people, social media is their main experience of the Internet, it’s where they see recommendations to buy, read their news and chat to their friends.

 

The trick for businesses to do well on social media is to be friendly and conversational rather than sales focused. Asking and answering questions on Twitter is a good way to join the conversation there, try searching using relevant hashtags to find topics related to your business.

 

  1. Join And Participate In Relevant Facebook Groups.

If you manage a Facebook page for your business you’ll know how hard it is to reach more than a few of your fans with any given post. That being said, Facebook is still an incredibly powerful tool for businesses and shouldn’t be ignored. Try joining some of the millions of groups there are and joining in conversations, offering relevant advice and sharing appropriate updates from your business.

 

It might take a little searching to find the right groups for you, but it is worth it. Try searching for local groups if your business is location dependent, or groups geared at business owners, women, or groups for certain hobbies and interests that your business may align with.

 

When one of your page updates does well, consider boosting it as an advert. Typically if one of your posts gets a far higher than average engagement Facebook will ask if you want to boost it. It’s worth considering, because if your core customers and fans like the update, then the chances are that an extended group of people would also like it and you can raise your profile relatively cheaply to a much larger audience.

 

  1. Write Every Blog Post As Though It Is Directed To Your Ideal Customer.

Posting regular updates to your blog is a fantastic way to be seen as an expert, and to stick in people’s minds as someone they can turn to for advice, information, and eventually when they need your service, as a paying customer.

 

The thing to remember about blogging though is that you need to be consistent, not just with the frequency of what you write, but the actual content itself.

 

If your blog topics are vastly different every time you post then it will be hard to grow a regular reader base as they will be put off by the fact they never know what they’re going to get.

 

For example, readers of this site know to expect updates about Internet Marketing related topics, such as SEO, Social Media, Web Development and Online Reputation. What you won’t see on this blog are updates about holidays, family life or what I eat.

 

  1. Make Sure Your Website Is Search Engine Optimised. 

SEO is a great tool, and you should use it to your advantage. If your site is correctly optimised, then it won’t matter if people don’t know your business name, because when they search for the service that they need, your business name will appear.

 

It’s particularly powerful for locally based businesses, because if someone searches for a Dentist in their town you only have to compete against those few other Dentists near to you in order to show in the Top 3 of the Search results. A well optimised website can help attract a steady stream of new customers.

 

So there you have it, 7 ways to get new customers! I’ll even throw in a bonus number 8… Cold Calling! It may be unpopular, but it still works.

 

Have you tried any of these tactics for customer acquisition? What has been most effective for you? 

The Most Expensive Thing in Your Business is a One Time Client

The Most Expensive Thing in Your Business is a One Time Client

Businesses of all sizes could do well to think more carefully about customer retention. Acquiring new customers is not only critical to ensure your business grows; it also satisfies your need to move on to the next thing and provides a fresh start and a blank slate. Unfortunately, acquiring new customers comes at a cost, which some sources suggest is around 7 times as much as reselling to your existing customer base.

 

Although acquiring new customers is a necessary and very important part of any business, it shouldn’t be your only focus. Once you have done the hard work of getting a customer on board you need to make sure you keep them! After all, how can you expect to grow your business at all if you can’t keep your existing clients happy?

 

Without repeat business from an existing client base you are constantly trying to plug the gap. A great month in terms of new business needs to be repeated month in month out if you have no steady income from your existing customer base. In short, running a business solely on one off sales does not make good business sense.

 

Some sources have suggested that it’s possible to increase your profits by up to 95 per cent just by improving your customer retention rates by five per cent. This seems like a pretty bold claim, but even an increase in profit of 20 per cent would seem like a huge win to most businesses!

 

So why are existing customers worth so much more than new ones?

 

With new business you are likely to have a longer lead time. The prospect has to be convinced that you are the right company to work with. Their doubts have to be addresses, whether they are about your product, service, price, quality, location, personnel or anything else. For every prospect that eventually buys you have to factor in not only the cost and time you’ve spent selling to them, but also to all the other prospects who haven’t bought anything.

 

Once a customer is on board you are likely to have overcome most, if not all of their concerns. The benefit to you, and the reason they’ll become easier to sell to in the future is that you will have built an element of trust with them. They are likely to be less sensitive to price, less likely to shop around and likely to buy from you more readily than go elsewhere. This again means shorter lead times, meaning less time, meaning you can focus more attention in other areas (like winning new customers!).

 

That doesn’t mean to say that existing customers are worth less of your attention, far from it! If you don’t give every customer the respect they deserve then they will leave you and go elsewhere. What I mean is that if you do your job right from the start, the process of retaining customers should be far easier than the process of attracting new ones.

 

Happy customers means you are also in a position to benefit from additional customer referrals. Good old word of mouth marketing is still a great tool for any business, especially now that you utilise the internet. If you have dozens of satisfied customers talking about you online, and possibly sending out referral offers to their friends it means that those friends who approach your business aren’t a “cold” customer. They already know about your business and have had a personal recommendation from a friend.

 

Existing customers should be at the heart of your marketing strategy, without a strategy to retain customers you leave yourself open to losing customers unnecessarily which puts you right back at square one, looking for new customers who cost you seven times more to win than retaining existing customers costs.

 

Given the recent economic turmoil (even the weather is being blamed for a potential triple dip recession!), frankly we could all do with whatever help we can get in order to reduce spending and increase efficiency. Our customer bases are one of our best assets and most valuable resources, make sure you’re getting the most out of yours!

 

Leave your comments below, we would love to know your thoughts are on customer acquisition vs repeat business!

Build Your Reputation then Grow Your Reach

Build Your Reputation then Grow Your Reach

Build Your Reputation then Grow Your Reach.

reputation managementLetting more people know about your business today than yesterday is part and parcel of being in business, growing a business and ultimately making a success of business. Without a continued drive to reach more targeted clients with an attractive and relevant proposition, customer acquisition will grind to a halt.

But what if the product and service that you are driving people’s attention back to is below par? Are you wasting your advertising money? Are you simply glossing over the bigger problem?

In Forresters Customer Experience Index 2013*, top ten customer experience leaders have a three year growth pattern better than twice that of the top ten U.S. advertisers. So does it not make sense that rather than working hard to get a million people to know about your business, would it not be better to focus on the product and service to:

  • make a product that is worth shouting about!
  • provide an experience that is second to none!
  • build a brand that is synonymous with excellence!

In an age where the customer has so much buying power thanks to the internet, businesses are no longer competing with the 1 or maybe 2 other firms in the same location. They are dealing with every firm across the country and beyond, many of whom share similar if not the same advertising messages.

The internet means that barriers to entry in some niches are greatly reduced, companies like Amazon and Google shopping mean that you can have a virtual shop open in a matter of hours, trade from your back bedroom and have next day delivery to clients.

Look at the legal sector, a market that was for so long dominated by long time established local firms who would quite literally handle all legal matters; family, business, wills and probate for an entire family is now challenged by internet companies that can offer the advice online for a fraction of the cost. Even Google has got into the legal game by backing Rocket Lawyer in the UK which will closely be followed by Legal Zoom who are partnering with the Quality Solicitors franchise to offer traditional legal services via the internet.

The main thing that happens through increased competition is commoditisation, lowering of costs and ultimately reduced profits. However, if your reputation is second to none, if you are associated with delivering great service, on time and on budget then why should you lower your cost? Your USP is the fact that you are great at what you do, you are experienced, you are trustworthy and more importantly other people think so and publically endorse you too.

When firms go after increasing brand awareness and targeting greater numbers this can be a complete waste of time if you don’t have that USP in the first place. All the advertising investment in the world cannot make up for the fact that when people search for your business in Google, once they have seen your advert they are met with a torrent of negative comments and testimonials from past clients of your business. The vast majority of those clients will NOT deal with you, they WILL find the next service provider who has a good reputation and choose them, even if it costs a little more because they will have more confidence in the fact that they can deliver over you.

So, before you go and invest thousands on your online marketing take a long look at what people are saying about you online and ask yourself honestly if you were a potential customer would you work with yourself?

If the answer is yes then put together a campaign based around your offer and get it out in front of targeted potential clients and track the results. If the answer is No, then forget advertising until you can honestly and truthfully answer, “Yes I would work with this firm”.

*Source: Forresters Customer Experience Index 2013

You Are What Ever Your Clients Say You Are!

You Are What Ever Your Clients Say You Are!

You Are What Ever Your Clients Say You Are!

With the ever increasing amount of messages that each individual customer is exposed to, buyers’ expectations are rising and it is becoming harder to earn audience trust. Without trust there is little chance of building long term profitable business relationships. That is why being customer focused should not only be at the heart of your marketing but also at the basis of everything that you do.

This next sentence may shock people; in fact it might even offend some business owners!

Nobody cares what you think about your product, your service or your business because to all intents and purposes that is a canned and measured response.

What people want to know about your company is the stories people tell about it!

The sooner you accept that what other people say is far more important to the success of your business than what you have to say, the better for your business and the easier it will be on your finances.

If the word surrounding your business is positive, then great! Capitalise on that buzz and attract as many targeted people as you can to witness that buzz for themselves so they too can become interested in what you do, how you do it, how they can become a part of it and share it with those that they know.

On the other hand if the general consensus is that your business is poor and does not deliver on what it says it does then STOP!

stop sign

Take a step back, listen to what people are saying, assess where the problem is and put things right. Then ask people again to judge you on how you are doing?  When the feedback comes back positive then you can look at growing once again.

People need to see for their own eyes what others are saying about your business before making a commitment to become a business partner. To help people make up their mind you should think about the following steps that can improve the return on your marketing investment:

Know your customer – The more you know about your customer, the easier it will become to provide that personalised message. If you have an image of what your customer looks like, what books they read, what makes them happy, where they live, or what industry they work in, then attracting that prospect to become a lead or a customer will be far easier and over time will cost less as conversions will be higher.

Consistency – When a prospect is considering joining your business there is no doubt that your sales and support staff will be there to allow that person to feel a part of how your business runs. If this changes, i.e. the point of contact is no longer available, support staff are currently always engaged or not available at all, then your client is soon going to be disgruntled.

Be consistent with your offering to the client and manage expectations from the outset as to what the client can and should expect from your business and stick to it.

Communicate – Don’t just talk to the customer, make the relationship a two way street. Many people don’t like the idea of giving power to the customer. The truth of the matter is that the internet has given the power to the customer anyway, so deal with it by giving them great things to say about you, and often.

Businesses are now more transparent than ever, honesty and openness is expected so embrace it and allow your business to thrive on it.

Always be listening – Review sites have given the consumer many more options to get their opinions heard. It is no longer in the power of the business to send out a periodic questionnaire as a customer can now go on Yelp, Google+, Qype, Touch Local, Twitter or Facebook and express an opinion. This can happen 24/7/365 and the results mean that  anyone searching for information about your business will see consumer generated content, comments, opinions and real life experiences of working with you and your business.

listening

Have a system in place where you can constantly monitor what is being said about your business and your online reputation, and be prepared to deal with negative criticism when they arrive.

You cannot please everybody, but how you resolve the situation with those that are unhappy when the eyes and ears of the world are on you can impact how prospective clients view your business both in a positive and negative light.

Act Decisively – In the past if you had a problem with a product or service you would go to the customer service desk, ask for the manager or perhaps fill out a customer complaint form to get an apology and a promise from the manager that the issue would be investigated and resolved. What would happen after that is anybody’s guess!

Now it is a completely different kettle of fish. The public nature of the social web means that when somebody has something negative to say about your company you need to act decisively as in the digital world things can quickly escalate.

By embracing the voice of your customers in the digital world your business will be available and responsive to your ideal client’s needs which are essential to building great customer relationships.

If you don’t treat your customers with the trust, respect and care they deserve and bought into when signing up with your business, there is a string of eager and dedicated competitors that will be more than happy to take those clients from you.