The holiday shopping season may be over, but that doesn’t mean the opportunity for growing your small business’s customer base is done for the year. If you’re looking to reboot in 2018 and start reaching current or new customers using some different methods, then here are some tips to help.
Use what you've got.
When most owners or managers think about marketing their business, they often turn efforts towards reaching new customers. Depending on the line of business, this isn’t necessarily a poor strategy, but it’s often substantially more work than focusing on enhancing your current relationships and the spending habits of existing customers.
The barrier to simply getting a new individual to visit your store or website - let alone make a purchase - are significantly higher than getting your current customers to purchase or use more of your business’s products or services.
What types of customer data do you currently have - phone, email, physical address?
Are you using this information to reach them?
Sending an email newsletter or coupon deals to your customers once a month is significantly cheaper than buying advertising space on the local radio station or newspaper and will likely give you a higher (or at least easier-to-measure) return on your investment.
Be data driven.
How much do you know about your customer base – email, age, gender, profession, preferred shopping time and day, who spends the most? If you don’t know these questions – then ask! But be creative, not creepy, about it.
Host a giveaway where your in-person shoppers can enter to win a gift card. To enter, customers simply need to complete a form asking for their email, age, gender, physical address, etc. Then, use this information to reach out to your customers later and determine where you may want to advertise.
If your customers can make purchases online, then simply make these fields required fields during the checkout process. (Note: You’ll want to be sure you review your state’s marketing/outreach regulations before you start any new marketing campaigns. Some states have laws about how you can use information provided by customers for marketing/sales purposes.)
You may also want to consider a customer survey, asking your customer about their profession, number of kids and preferred shopping days and hours. Why? This information will be invaluable as you identify where to advertise, how to focus your outreach, and determine any key shopping times or days that you might be missing.
If you’re already doing these things, then it’s time to take it to the next level. Consider implementing a customer identification process so that you can track buying habits. Many companies do this via a loyalty card, i.e. the Safeway Club Card. When customers use their Safeway Club Card, the company can track when how much specific households are spending and on what.
You don’t need to be tech-savvy or have a large advertising budget in order to use social media to market your small business. On Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, you can feature specials via free posts and tweets or create targeted ads that will only appear to your most likely shoppers.
Unlike traditional advertising, with social media ads, you can specify gender, education level, zip code, age, etc. (This is a good example as to why it’s important to know WHO your customers are.)
More importantly, get your followers to do your advertising for you. Enter customers that “share” or “retweet” your content in a drawing to win a gift card, try giving $5 off to customers that “check-in” at your location, or create a trivia contest by asking customers to take a picture of their answer and tag you. All these will ensure that your business is shared with your customers’ followers, and in a positive and interesting light.
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