Customers are the lifeblood of every business. As a small business owner, you want to attract and keep good customers. But competition is fierce out there and you have to cut through a lot of clutter to grab customers’ attention. Your business could get lost in the clutter if you haven’t taken steps to stand out.
Today’s consumers are also discerning and they can take their pick when it comes to where they take their business. So how can you ensure that they pick you?
Develop your customer value proposition
Your value proposition is at the very core of what differentiates your business from another that offers similar products or services. It is not only about defining your product or service. It is that X-factor that addresses a need or solves a problem more efficiently or more attractively than your competitors. It is about creating and delivering real value so that people see the value in doing business with you. Think carefully about your value proposition – define what it is that sets your business apart in addressing the real needs of your customers.
Consider carefully what do your customers need and think strategically about how you can deliver this to them more seamlessly and at a fair price. Focus on the little things such as optimising your levels of customer service, making it easy for people to source and pay for your products and services, getting to know your customers better and personalising their experience with you and your business. Adding value is one of the easiest ways of ensuring that your customers do not stray.
Build your brand
Your company should have a distinguishable brand identity that defines your business and helps people to recognise it. It encompasses your logo, tagline, signage, the messaging in your advertising, your value proposition, beliefs and what your business is all about. Using the power of branding and emotion, you can attract customers that identify with your brand personality and promise. You brand image will influence how people respond to your products and services. People align with brands that have the same aspirations and attitudes that they have.
Professionalism is critical to building a strong and credible brand. Think carefully about how you portray your brand personality and attitude to your desired target audience. The choice of colours in your logo and the wording you use in your advertising will speak volumes about your brand and what it stands for. People are less likely to align with brands that come across as tacky, unprofessional, cheap, illegitimate or insincere.
Identify your pain points
Figure out what is making you feel lacklustre about your business. Write them down and try to find a solution for each one. Could your task list be too long? Are you working too many hours? Is your work life impacting your home life? Could it be that staff morale is low? Do you have equipment that keeps failing and causing you unnecessary stress? Could it be time to shake up some negative employees? Are customers placing undue demands on you or your staff? Could it be time to cut them loose?
Being visible helps keeps you top of mind. You should be using a diversity of channels to engage with your customers and potential customers. The channels you use would depend on the nature of your business. Social media has become an absolute must for businesses.
In this digital age, you must have an online presence. A well designed and easy to navigate website is a must. For the majority of consumers, the internet is their first point of call when searching for a product or service to address a need. Use social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to market your brand, profile your products and services, and direct potential customers to your website.
However, make sure that if you are on social media, you have the capacity to deliver timely responses on comments and queries. Use paid social channels to grow the reach of your posts to a wider audience of relevant potential customers. Growing your followers on social media channels takes time but it is worth the effort.
Make sure that everything you put online is aligned with your brand, your values and what your business is about. Regularly engaging online with well planned and relevant messaging will help you to establish a credible voice.
Another way to stay visible is to take a stand at relevant exhibitions or market days. These offer an invaluable platform to engage with potential customers face to face while offering them the opportunity to see, touch and try your products. Make sure that you have business cards or flyers with contact details for your visitors to take away with them. Take contact details down of interested customers and make sure that you follow up on every lead soon after the expo is over.
Other ways to increase your visibility could include visuals such as signs on your building with your logo and a slogan, signage on delivery and services vehicles and if you own a restaurant or a shop, you could use sidewalk signs and eye catching window displays. You could also consider sponsoring local community events, running races or school sports teams.
Loyal and satisfied customers are also one of your best marketing channels because they will talk positively about your products and services, refer their friends and leave positive customer reviews that will help your business win new customers.
So, provide opportunities and invite your customers to submit reviews on their experiences with your business. You can make this functionality available on your website, on Google and on social media. Consumers will often read reviews on products and services before they make the decision to purchase. Online reviews will also help to improve your visibility in search rankings.
Importantly, the reviews and feedback you receive from your customers will also assist you in analyzing your customer service levels and how people experience doing business with you and using your products. This is invaluable intelligence that you can use to resolve issues, improve customer service and refocus your products, services and energies to address your customers’ real needs.
Keep your loyal customers engaged by keeping the lines of communication open. Take advantage of the immediate and two-way communication that social media platforms provide. Make sure that you reply to comments on social media. Regularly post interesting and relevant comments and news about your business, product or service. You can also use direct emailers to communicate with your customers on a regular basis.
Keep it personal
Strive for a high degree of personalisation in your dealing with your customers. Personalisation encompasses designing services and products around your customers’ individual requirements. Watch your customers’ purchasing behaviours and make the effort to get to know them. Talk to them, listen to them and remember them. Use what you know about them to create personalised offers or promotions to reward them for their loyalty. Regardless of the type of business you are in, there is always a way to personalise the customer experience. Remember, you have to give attention to get attention!
Deals and discounts are a great way to grab attention because people see them as an opportunity to save money and enjoy a product or service for much less. In fact, discounts can influence a customers’ decision to buy now or by more even if they weren’t planning to buy anything. You don’t have to wait to Black Friday to offer attention grabbing deals. You could consider offering weekly or monthly discounts or deals to build anticipation and create a “want” amongst your customers. Use your social media channels and direct mailers to advertise your deals to your customers.