If your venture is to succeed, it’s vital to let customers know about your new business and develop a strategy so they spend money with you, says Christopher Allen
Let’s face it, without customers your business will not be able to operate. This is why it is important to have a clear and focused plan detailing how you intend to attract them to your business. It is also important to understand their needs and concerns – otherwise they will go to your competitors.
Customers are important for the survival of a business, but how do you identify them? For example, do you know the age, gender, social status, spending habits and the platforms of your target audience? Obtaining this information will enable you to understand how your customers think, where they shop and their spending habits. This can be done by doing research or speaking to potential customers and other businesses to identify the most effective ways of targeting them.
A marketing plan will assist in attracting new customers, and will detail how you intend to target them. The plan should include your unique selling point, target audience, list of goals, platforms you intend to use and your budget. It should also identify your main competitors. As with any plan, it is subject to change and should be reviewed on a regular basis as the business develops and takes shape. A plan does not guarantee results. However, as the saying goes: if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
A good starting point is to ask your family and friends to promote your products and services. It is also worth building relationships with other businesses that are similar or that complement yours, as they could assist you with obtaining new referrals.
Using social media can be valuable, as it is low-cost and allows you to engage with a wider audience.
Identifying which social media platforms to use is important, as each platform has its own features such as photos, videos sharing or instant messaging. Understanding the best time to post content can assist in customer engagement. Typically the best times to post are weekdays at 8-10am, midday and 4-8pm.
It is also worth using web analytical tools to provide valuable information on how customers engage with your page. These will help you understand how many people have visited your website, the visit duration, their location, areas of the site visited and any issues faced.
Using promotions to attract new customers is a simple but effective method. It can assist with customer engagement – targeting new customers outside your network and helping to build a database of potential customers.
Promotions can be used in several ways, such as price reductions, special offers, competitions, free gifts and loyalty cards. The key to running a successful campaign is to make the customers feel valued and that they’ve secured a bargain. This effect can help with repeat business and referrals to friends and family.
A good marketing campaign I witnessed was on Instagram, where a start-up business gave away a free pair of trainers. But to be considered for the prize draw, you needed to share the post on your profile page, tag 10 friends and use a special hashtag. This approach worked well – it gave customers a chance of winning but, more importantly, it allowed the start-up to reach a wider audience.
Putting yourself in your customers’ shoes provides an opportunity to view your business in an objective way and should highlight any areas that need improving. Your customers are the lifeline of your business, and without them your business will not be able to survive. Conducting regular surveys on areas such as customer service, your website and products can help with improving the overall customer experience.
Creating a forum or feedback section on your website gives you the opportunity to converse and discuss different topics related to your products or services. This can help with establishing your profile, building relationships and reassuring customers they are valued. It is also worth contacting customers via telephone or on a face-to-face basis – a simple but effective way of communicating.
Something else to consider is that if your business model is based on price, beware, as larger companies can enter the market and outprice you. It is a good idea to base your model on loyalty or service. A well-known department store provides customers with an additional year’s warranty on all electrical goods – an approach that has helped the store retain customers.
If you determine your strategy and goals in advance of rolling out an awareness campaign to new and existing customers, you can measure your success. Write your strategy and goals down, and regularly check on progress.
Lastly, identifying customers is only part of the solution. The main question then is how you can retain them. Retention is crucial, as it can save time and money and allow you to focus on your core customers to create discounts and rewards.