March 22, 2017

7 WAYS TO GROW YOUR CUSTOMER BASE

Let’s be honest…being a founder and an owner of a business is complex. As the business owner, expectations are set that require you to be skilled in your trade or service, manage people well, plus sell and improve the bottom line. What a daunting list for one (or even a few) people!

It’s not a surprise that marketing falls to the bottom of the list, particularly if mapping results to the bottom line is a grey area. And accurately tracking every single marketing activity back to the bottom line is simply not possible.

But it is important to determine what your greatest opportunities for growth could be in order to know if your decisions are welcoming your customers and ultimately prompting purchases. Effective marketing tactics are done with strategy as compared to randomly trying things and hoping it will work.

Here’s a few quick tips for you to implement to grow your customer base :: 

1. Start with Your Tribe:  Simply put, your current - and happy - customers, are your best marketing tool. As a business owner, you know your faithful followers / fans well, so start with one or two opportunities to nurture this relationship. Get creative! Some ideas could be a monthly email newsletter, thank you cards following completion of services, or coupons for new services. Understand how this investment impacts your bottom line through calculating the Lifetime Value.  Doing so allows you to see how many customers you need to grow and ultimately what you could invest to see a return on investment.

  • Lifetime Value of One Fan:  (Average sale per Fan) x (Average number of times a Fan buys per year) x (Average tenure in years for a typical Fan)
  • Example:  $50 sale x 10x per year x 3 years = $1,500
 

2. Look at past customers:  Spend some time reviewing your database to determine why some customers are not faithful followers and are no longer using your services. Is there a trend? Consider reaching out to this group with an inexpensive email or postcard offer.  You will be able to track results by monitoring new purchases from this group.

3. Change Your Perspective:  Certain business items previously categorized as marketing are now necessary business expenses. For example, having a website is as vital as a new piece of equipment or the telephone system. Current customers use your website to find your phone number or research new services. Prospective customers measure the authenticity of your business through your website presentation, as well as research pricing and services. As a bonus, applying Google Analytics (it’s free!) to your website enables you to set up and track key goals.

4. Use Google Analytics:  Designate a block of time to set up and learn about Google Analytics. Or invest in a digital partnership to complete and manage this for you. Learning and using Google Analytics will provide you with key insights into your customers that will both drive operational and marketing decisions and provide trackable results. Google has set up multiple YouTube channels for resources. Check it out here.

  • Example of using Google Analytics:  You observe customers are now primarily using their iPhones to connect with you. Knowing this, you can now ensure that your website is optimized for mobile devices and track calls with a trackable phone number. Using your customer database, you will be able to match the traced calls to actual sales.
 

5. Avoid Quick Fixes 

Building a brand and a marketing plan takes much time, thinking and intentional investments. Before you start, determine how you will measure success and what your goals are. For one business, its success could be using their website to minimize phone calls to the store. For another business, it could be increasing foot traffic by 20%. Be realistic and seek professional guidance in areas where you have limited expertise.

6. What to Invest

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, plan to spend 7-8% of your gross revenue on marketing and advertising if your sales are less than $5 million a year. Opinions differ on these percentages because so much depends on what your business goals are and if you are looking to maintain or grow your business.

7. Understand What is No Longer Working Life is ever changing. A common oversight we see with business owners is not being aware of - or willing to change - what connects with your target market. Advertising on the local radio station may have worked ten years ago but it may no longer be the best method for customers ages 18-30.

Ultimately, knowing who you are and what your brand story is, is the foundation for success.

The right marketing communication built on a brand story will increase profits by both earning more clients AND saving wasted dollars on ineffective marketing tactics. With this foundation, making decisions on where to invest and measure your marketing dollars will become clearer. 


words by heather - chief operating officer

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