Just because your business is small, it doesn’t mean that your customer base has to be small as well. You can expand the size of your pool to include some pretty big fish; you just need to have a plan.
Ground rule: Customers are the foundation for any business. You can’t get around it, nor should you try. Your success or failure depends entirely upon your ability to attract and retain customers. Let’s take a closer look. When starting out, you may find that your organization is stuck fishing in a small pond, catching enough customers to stay afloat, but never quite enough to expand. Remember, you don’t have to be a small business forever. By placing your focus and resources on key marketing areas, you can actually increase the size of your customer pool and catch new and better leads.
Here are eight ways small businesses in small ponds can attract an ocean’s worth of “big-fish” customers.
1. Grow your bottom line by growing online
In the past few decades, it’s become common knowledge that for a business to succeed, it needs to have an online presence. However, what isn’t as understood by certain businesses is just what that entails.
Move beyond the paid advertising, and focus on creating an online identity that is natural and alluring to customers. This means creating interesting and useful content and posting it free of charge. It means becoming a dedicated user and follower of social media, and using it to connect with customers and potential customers socially on a regular basis. It means keeping your various sites and pages looking their best, and updating information regularly and quickly. It does not mean spamming your prospects with advertisements and constant reminders that they need to give you money. Businesses with 31 to 40 landing pages get on average seven times more leads than those with only 1 to 5 landing pages, so more landing pages means more leads.
Customers will receive information that is targeted towards their specific interests, rather than just funneling all your prospects to the general information on your homepage, or worse, straight to an online order form.
For many, who your company is online is who the company actually is. So, if you haven’t taken the time to evaluate your online presence, do it! If you have already evaluated it, reevaluate it and see what you could be doing to optimise it.
2. Partner with other businesses—even competitors
Develop alliances with other businesses—even potential competitors. If you can prove to your customers that you always have their best interests in mind, then once they have a need that you can fulfill, they’ll be sure to come to you first. Think about how to create symbiotic relationships with the businesses around you, and yes, competitors can also work together for the benefit of both businesses. Referring and receiving referrals from other businesses will allow you to increase your customer base, while also showing those customers that you care about them enough to help them get what they need—even if you don’t end up closing a sale in the process.
3. New leads with old customers
When you do your job well, the natural result is a happy customer. Happy customers are rewarding, but it shouldn’t be the end of your interaction. Instead, do a bit of follow up with your satisfied customers. Check in with them a week or a month later. Ask them to review how you’ve done, and to give you honest feedback on everything. Referrals are responsible for 65% of all new business, and customers who are referred to a company by a friend are four times as likely to make a purchase. (Nielsen) If you’re not following up on your sales by asking for reviews, you’re ignoring low-hanging fruit.
4. Good reviews. Good reputation. Great revenue.
Going hand in hand with the concept of referrals, reviews are an inexpensive way to promote your brand online. By providing a space on your website for customers to rank their experiences, you’ll be able to show interested parties just how valuable your products or services are, which will help you acquire more customers, due to the fact that 90% of buying decisions are influenced by online reviews. (Dimensional Research)
You might be concerned with bad reviews, so what’s to stop customers from posting negative reviews? Well, nothing, actually. If customers are having bad experiences, then that’s an issue that you need to address with your business.
Look at negative reviews as valuable feedback that you might never have had access to otherwise. Once you’ve gotten your house in order, you’ll be able to enjoy the exposure that comes from positive reviews. Whatever you do, don’t delete negative reviews. A Harvard Business School study showed that for every one-star increase on Yelp usually boosted business revenue anywhere from 5-9%. Good reviews ultimately equal business growth.
5. Manage your customer relationships like a big fish
No matter the size of your business, every customer counts, but they’re even more crucial when you’re a smaller business looking to grow. This is why you should always make sure to keep the personal details and information regarding your leads, prospects, and buyers safe and accessible. After all, when you’re getting ready to close a sale, you don’t want to have to rely on a Post-it note, or email attachment to retrieve the customer data you need. Mobile CRM can change the way you do business, with not just mobile access to data but also – and more significantly – the possibility of using your CRM as a platform on which to build your entire mobile strategy, from branded customer-facing apps to distributed customer service and support.
This is where customer relationship management (CRM) comes into play. If your business isn’t already enjoying the advantages of a CRM tool, then it’s well past time to get on board. Studies from Salesforce show that businesses that use CRM increase their sales by 25% on average, especially when a business is doing CRM the right way. The question isn’t can your business afford to invest in CRM? But rather can it afford not to?
6. Become an expert
Customers want to know that you aren’t simply a salesman trying to push a product; they want someone who really understands that product and believes in it. So, if you can demonstrate your knowledge and your confidence in a way that is accessible to customers, they’ll have faith in what you’re offering. Share personal insights on company blogs, speak at events, host seminars, etc. Basically, any way that you can increase your knowledge and demonstrate your expertise will result in increased profits in the long run. You’ll be able not only to solidify your relationship with existing customers, but you’ll also strengthen your reputation in your industry, and through that reputation, you’ll attract more buyers.
7. Be ready
All of these tips are designed to help you draw customers in towards your business, and to help you identify promising leads from among the crowd.According to a study by Insidesales.com 35-50% of sales go to the vendor that responds first, so once the pieces are all in place, don’t hesitate; be ready to close the deal at all times, so that when the customer is ready to start the sales process, you won’t have to run to catch up.
To ensure this is successful know your customers, and your potential customers. Know what motivates them. Know their needs. Learn how to recognize the signs that say that they’re ready to purchase. It also means that you should have access to their information at all times, because if they decide that they’re ready, but they see that you’re not, they’ll probably take their business elsewhere.
8. Think like a customer
By empathizing with the people who make up the foundation of your business, you’ll be able to lead your organization in a direction that benefits them the most. And once you master that, you won’t have any trouble catching all the customers you need, whether you’re fishing in a small pond, or fishing in the ocean.