Adding customers to your ever-mounting list of responsibilities and expenditures doesn’t have to be another dreaded task that requires hours of research and uncovering that hidden stash in the backyard.
If you are like most new store owners your day is filled with devising a budget, hiring quality employees, ordering stock, organizing your inventory, solving complex business issues and in the remaining hours of the day you may manage to sneak in some full-blown selling to your host of prospective customers. But don’t forget that there’s trash to go out, floors to clean and working hours to fill when your third employee quits this month.
With all of these responsibilities mounting up, oftentimes, marketing and maintaining a solid customer base for your new store is miles down the priority list. But, if you hope to keep those shiny, clean doors open, devising a solid marketing plan is crucial in helping you attract more new customers and maintaining the ones you already have. If your budget has been sliced dramatically due to start up costs and mounting unpredictable expenses, don’t panic. Here are a few ideas that will help you increase your customer base on a relatively small budget.
Increase Customer Engagement
Most business put a lot of focus on bringing in new business and attracting new customers, but according to Bain and Co., it costs six to seven times more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one. Word-of-mouth reviews are one of the most powerful marketing tools you have as a new business entrepreneur, a marketing tool that can make you or break you quickly. With this in mind, it is vital to show value to your customers.
One way to assure this is to provide a loyalty program where customers receive rewards, perhaps discounts or free gifts, based on the amount they spend and the frequency with which they return. Email your loyal customers, attaching an incentive to return to the store. Send out “special” discounts to several of your top customers. They will jump at the chance to be one of the “chosen” to receive benefits from your store. However you do it, just do it.
Continue to reward your returning customers in tangible ways. Marketing Metrics says that’s what’s going to pay off. According to them, the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%, while selling to a new prospect is 5-20%.
If you require employees to wear uniforms, you should be sure that your business name and logo is blatantly obvious on the shirt, hat and anything else that is worn outside of the store. If employees travel throughout the work day consider putting the company name and logo on the side of the car or opt for professional prints to be placed on the car windows. Nothing better than a good old traffic jam to promote business.
Make Your Business Card Count
If you make a special connection with a customer, the first thing you should do upon closing the sale is to distribute your business card to let them know you enjoyed your interaction and that they can personally count on you the next time they choose to shop in your store. Most of those may get tossed before they get in their car or washed in the laundry, but if you use that card as a marketing tool, it will find a special place of security when that special customer takes possession.
If you close a sale, or just land a valued customer, write down your company website on the back and let them know they can receive special discounts if they enter their email or take a customer satisfaction survey (if those provisions are already in place), or simply just write 20% off your next purchase on the back and suddenly that card has value and is less likely to make friends with a drooling soda cup.
In addition to the traditional methods of advertising, you should look for ways to partner with other organizations and charities. Charities and not-for-profit businesses are always on the lookout for volunteers and input from other businesses. When an organization has a major event like an auction or a raffle, consider partnering with them and promote your business by providing a service that will be raffled or a product that keeps your name in writing. The more the event is advertised, the more often your business will be mentioned if you donate something memorable.
Businesses that align themselves with a philanthropic organization not only increase their exposure to the public, but also boost their image in the eyes of their customers.
Remember, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to market your business and begin reaping the rewards. Of course, as time goes on ramping up your marketing strategy to increase and improve brand recognition will be crucial. But, if you begin with a plan and attack it vigorously, you may be able to cross marketing off your “to do list” for a bit and maybe even hire someone else to tackle those bathrooms.