How to Get More Customers to Visit Your Small Business
For a business owner, finding your ideal customer can be a difficult yet rewarding journey. In general, your marketing strategy should include target customer development actions that fall into three categories:
- Fostering current customer relationships
- Building brand awareness
- Converting your target audience from prospects to happy customers
Read on to learn about 15 ways you can maximize repeat business and earn your next loyal customer.
1. Create a Referral System
Your current customers have a broad network of friends, neighbors, and co-workers who they can funnel to your business. You just have to provide the right incentive. Experts recommend being proactive and building a formal system to solicit and incentivize customers. Follow up with customers after sales, and once you confirm they’re satisfied, introduce them to your referral program. Be prepared to offer an enticing incentive like a commission or discount code.
2. Dual Discounts
Everyone loves a good deal. In just four letters, BOGO creates an excited potential customer ready for savings. Create multi-person promotions that will encourage current customers to bring in a friend or coworker. Need help brainstorming your next business ads? How about:
- Bring a friend, and you’ll each receive 10 percent off.
- Buy one product or service, get a second for free.
- Visit the store in a group of two or more to receive 20 percent off.3 Focus on Customer Service
3. Focus on Customer Service
If you want your customers to be your salespeople, emphasize customer satisfaction. Make the in-store shopping experience clean, enjoyable, and stress-free. Additionally, build a comprehensive customer service plan to triage any potential issues and train your employees to always put the customer first.
4. Communicate with Current Customers
Are you staying in touch with current customers? Keep in contact with current and past customers so they can stay up to date with new products and promotions. Ask for their feedback so they feel valued and heard.
To ease your communication efforts, set up a system during the sales process to capture customer contact information. That way, you can reach them through a regular email newsletter. Also, consider providing value on your social media channels in the form of industry expertise and promotions to incentivize customers to follow you and stay up to date with your business.
5. Research Your Current Customers
Once you’ve created an organized inventory of current and past customers, you can begin market research to understand your audience better. This research doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as analyzing your current customer base to identify trends that will help your business tap into future leads.
Once you’ve begun your market research, you can explore new customers to target. Do you want to pursue the same demographics as current customers or expand to a new audience? Who is the audience, and what do they want?
6. Reconnect with Old Customers
Once you have a systemized inventory of past and current customers, you will be able to pinpoint which customers haven’t stopped by recently. Try creating a standard schedule for contacting old customers—for example, customers who haven’t visited in six months. Offer a discount or promotion to incentivize them to return. Consider also surveying them to determine why they stopped visiting.
7. Research Your Competitors
Research customers and competitors to understand your community’s demands and how your competitors are attempting to meet those needs. Take this as an opportunity to get inspired in your business and services and ask yourself:
- What kinds of marketing campaigns are my competitors using?
- What kinds of customers are they attracting?
- Are there product or service offerings that differ from mine?
- What is their digital presence like? Could I do more with mine?
- When a customer walks into their business, what is the experience from start to finish?
For example, Susan Weiand of Susan J Weiand Photography was inspired by other photographers who were doing porch portraits during the pandemic. When Weiand offered the service herself, new and old customers reached out to procure her services.
8. Define Your Target Market
On your search for new customers, you will need to define your target markets. As you consider branching out to additional markets and customer groups, try to identify these three key players in each market:
- Gatekeepers – Gatekeepers are the authority who you must win over before you can reach your final audience. For example, parents would be the gatekeepers for products targeted to children.
- Influencers – Influencers have the power to sway customers. If they like your product or service, customers will follow.
- Decision-Makers – Decision-Makers are your primary end-user. If a parent is a gatekeeper, the child is the decision-maker who is deciding which of the two toys they want for their birthday.
As you consider new markets and the key players within each, you will need to establish the following points for your product or service:
Which of these will resonate with which market and which players? A parent might want to hear about a toy’s safety features while their child will be drawn to bright packaging. As you define potential new customers, you can refine the value proposition you will pitch them.
9. Create an Advertising Plan
Once you have established the new markets that you want to target, you will need to develop an accompanying marketing plan. Your first decision will be to decide between traditional marketing and digital marketing, or even a combination of both. Ask yourself where your customers spend their time. Are they constantly online, or would they be more likely to notice a billboard?
There are four key digital marketing tactics for small businesses to understand and explore:
- Inbound Marketing – Inbound marketing attracts customers by providing them valuable content.
- Video Marketing - Video marketing takes advantage of the visual nature of social media and sales. Forbes found that 64 percent of consumers are more likely to make a purchase after watching a related video.
- Email Marketing - Email marketing delivers news and promotions directly to customer’s inboxes. Sprout Social reports that 59 percent of marketers highlight email as their biggest ROI.
- Social Marketing – Social marketing utilizes online platforms to connect with new and future customers. A survey found that followers were almost 60 percent more likely to buy from the small business they follow.
Try a blend of traditional and digital marketing techniques, including:
- Cold Calling – Browse local media and directories for contact information of potential customers or purchase it from third parties to use for a telemarketing strategy.
- Networking – Connect with community organizations like the local Chamber of Commerce and attend events like trade shows and dinners to build relationships with other businesses in your area or field. Don’t forget about online networking through social media platforms.
- Affiliate Marketing – Partner with individuals or businesses and offer them an affiliate commission or discount to funnel sales your way.
- SEO – Search engines like Google sort and organize all of the data on the internet. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the way that you can maximize your digital presence so new consumers can find you. Utilize free tools to make sure your website and social media are SEO-friendly.
You don’t need to commit to all of these marketing strategies. Choose just a few to focus on as you develop your marketing skills. If you don’t see results, transition to another tactic until you find the perfect way to connect with new customers.
10. Connect with Local Media
Another free marketing strategy is to get attention from local media. Contact radio, newspaper, and TV stations about your events and business news. Pitch them a compelling story about you or your business. Offer your industry expertise and write a guest blog.
11. New Customer Discounts
A tried and true technique to convert your new audience into customers is to offer new customer discounts. These promotions will help them make the leap from shopper to buyer. Get creative with your offerings. If you can’t afford to offer a coupon, can you add in a free gift? Free shipping? A discount on their next purchase? Put yourself in their shoes. What kind of promotion would make you open your wallet?
For inspiration, look no further than Portland-based window company, Renewal by Andersen. This business started using Nextdoor’s Local Deals feature and saw incredible growth with new leads.
“The ROI with Nextdoor [Local Deals] is better than we’ve seen with other channels. We get warm leads from people who are already interested, and we’ve found that those leads close at a much higher rate than other channels,” said their marketing manager.
A Local Deal can make a big difference in attracting new customers to your retail store.
Build partnerships with complementary businesses that share your customer base without being directly competitive. For example, a nail salon might partner with a hair salon. These partnerships are mutually beneficial. You can offer partner commissions and discounts to capture your shared audience.
13. Community Events
Meet your neighbors and give back to your community by taking part in local events. Consider sponsoring a nonprofit or having a booth at the local fair. Get out from behind the counter and mingle with your community. You’ll learn more about your audience, and they’ll learn more about you. It might just be the push potential customers need to turn to you for their needs.
For example, New York real estate agent Jeffrey Goodman decided to show his local expertise through an innovative community event idea—a local neighborhood tour. Goodman takes community members and potential customers through his listings area to showcase architectural beauties, favorite neighborhood spots, and insider secrets. These events are favorites for the whole community and showcase Goodman’s professionalism, warm personality, and knowledge of the area.
14. Online Reviews
Online reviews are effective and free advertising. Ask current customers to post reviews or leave a Nextdoor recommendation in follow-up messages. Incentivize them further by offering a discount or promotion if they submit a review. Link to these reviews on your website and social media so that new customers can feel confident about making a purchase. Respond to negative reviews politely and try to remedy the complaint to mitigate any potential damage.
15. Build a Customer Loyalty Program
A rewards program will both attract and retain new customers. Some programs use point systems while others offer rewards after a certain dollar amount is spent. Customers will also love holiday and birthday specials. If you choose a point system, you can have double point days to drive even more traffic. The possibilities are endless.
Find New Customers in Your Neighborhood
As you search for how to get more customers, you have three key strategies:
- Retain current customers
- Reconnect with old customers
- Find new customers
Each of these channels can be reached through your marketing and customer satisfaction strategies. As you undertake market research to find new potential customers, look no further than your neighbors. Your community members are your best advocates and best customers.
Forbes. 10 Great Ways To Attract New Customers To Your Small Business. https://www.forbes.com/sites/allbusiness/2020/02/28/attract-new-customers-small-business-tips/?sh=4563d51a4d1a
Lea Winters. Ideas for Cheap Ways to Attract Retail Customers to a Store. https://yourbusiness.azcentral.com/drive-foot-traffic-retail-store-3506.html
Elizabeth Wasserman. How to Find New Customers and Increase Sales. https://www.inc.com/guides/find-new-customers.html
Sprout Social. Small Business Marketing 101: Using Email, Social, Video and More. https://sproutsocial.com/insights/guides/small-business-marketing-101/#small-business-marketing-with-video
William Craig. The Growth Of Video Marketing And Why Your Business Needs It. https://www.forbes.com/sites/williamcraig/2018/04/24/the-growth-of-video-marketing-and-why-your-business-needs-it/?sh=61cd70397c2d
Rieva Lesonsky. 10 Ways to Get New Customers. https://www.sba.gov/blog/10-ways-get-new-customers
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