Almost every other element needed to run a business is under your control. You choose the products, the prices and the infrastructure needed to deliver. You raise the working capital, either from private sources or corporate lenders.
But getting customers is harder. You need to persuade people to walk into your premises and make a purchase, or visit your website and press that button which says ‘buy now’. Here are some suggestions to help get people through the real, or virtual, door.
1. Know who your customers are.
Many start-ups make the mistake of aiming their marketing at everyone. They’re so worried that they’ll miss an opportunity that they try to target every possible purchaser at the same time. The truth is that some people, or businesses, will be much more likely to buy your product than others. It will pay to invest time in working out exactly who they are.
2. Use the right marketing channels
You have never had so many ways in which to reach potential customers. Traditional advertising, online advertising and social media all offer lots of options. Once you’ve identified your target market, you can work out which methods of advertising are most likely to reach them.
3. Learn all you can from every customer
Every person who buys from you can be a rich source of information. Don’t be afraid to find out all you can about how they heard of your business, why they chose to buy from you, how they found the experience and whether they’re willing to recommend you to others. All that information can help you better understand what’s working and what isn’t, and how to focus your marketing more effectively.
4. Turn a one-time customer into repeat business
You make more profit selling to existing customers, because the overall cost of sale is much less. So you need to find ways of bringing customers back for more. This could be a loyalty card, sending them regular emails, offering a purchasing experience that they enjoy, or a combination of all of these.
5. Never take your customers for granted
Their business is being sought by your competitors, so never assume that they’ll keep coming back to you. You’ll need to work hard to retain their loyalty.