There are some New Year’s resolutions you stick to—and many more that fall by the wayside long before we reach Spring. And, If you’re a small business owner, you undoubtedly share at least one common resolution with the 28 million other small businesses currently operating in the US that will be with you all year long—the goal to increase your customer base and grow your business in 2018. It’s a noble aspiration, and it also happens to be an attainable one, if you can just find the right approach.
Of course, every small business is different and has it’s own unique challenges when it comes to reaching new customers and achieving growth. However, there are a variety of tactics for new customer acquisition in 2018 that can apply across regions, target markets and demographics if applied correctly. With that said, here are several approaches to consider when looking to grow your customer base in 2018 and beyond.
Content Marketing—If you’re looking to draw in new customers in 2018, you’ll need to resort to new(ish) tactics to do so. Content marketing is quickly outpacing paid advertising as customers’ preferred method for learning about products and companies.
There’s good reason for content marketing’s growing popularity, particularly in the business-to-business (B2B) community. For small businesses, content marketing generates leads, boosts sales, and builds brand loyalty. For customers, it’s an effective way of becoming engaged and educated on new or unfamiliar topics.
Whoever the benefactor, one thing’s for certain: content marketing is working. Today, more than 60 percent of B2B marketing programs are more successful than a year ago, according to a Content Marketing Institute study.
Customer Feedback—Yesterday’s customer feedback can be tomorrow’s golden ticket to success—with the right approach. Small businesses can bolster sales in the New Year by assessing, and responding to, the feedback they received in 2017.
If numerous complaints were lodged about high prices, for example, a small business would be wise to consider marking items down. And if customers were inquiring about a product your store didn’t yet carry, consider taking steps to meet that demand.
After all, most customers give feedback with the best intentions in mind. A recently-released survey shows 70 percent of customers want to help companies improve the products they build and carry.
Although you didn’t close every sale last year, that doesn’t mean you’ve closed the door to the opportunities ahead in 2018. You may still be able to make those sales, if you find a way to meet prospective customers’ needs.
CRM Investment—As you prepare to start the New Year off right, begin with your business’s customer relationship management (CRM) strategy.
The new lead information your CRM contains has never been more valuable. This tool can tell you whom you’ve reached out to, when and how often, and which products they’ve expressed interest in. The right CRM will provide your sales team a tremendous head start in meeting customer’s short- and long-term needs.
An effective CRM will blow the socks off your bottom line. It can boost revenue by 41 percent per user, according to Trackvia. Utilizing your CRM strategy will put your business in a strong sales position as it charges into 2018.
When you launched your business, you probably put a lot of thought into its location. You considered which areas would generate the most foot traffic, and which areas would best serve your customers.
When launching this year’s online advertising campaigns, give the same degree of thought to your marketing strategies. Take a close look at location-based marketing (geo-targeting), which helps businesses take a personalized approach to sales.
Each geographical region has its own set of needs, and customers love it when businesses recognize and respond to those needs with targeted ad content.
Location-based marketing is an effective strategy. According to one study, 60 percent of advertising professionals say geo-targeted ads deliver a stronger return on investment than other sales methods.
Today’s customers expect to reach a business when they want—and how they want. To stay competitive in the New Year—and beyond—ensure your business opens up its lines of communication on multiple fronts.
Encourage your employees to be responsive online, on the phone, and in person. If you can, offer a live chat service on your company’s website, which will give customers instant access to the information they’re seeking. Stay plugged in to your social media channels, too.
The majority of today’s shoppers expect to receive real-time assistance, regardless of the communication channel they choose. And remember, if you’re not readily accessible to your customers, they’ll likely give their business to an easier-to-reach competitor.
Each year brings with it an onslaught of new ideas, products, and types of services. As you move into 2018, take the time to reevaluate your business’s offerings. Inform yourself about new and emerging products and technologies.
Is it time to upgrade to newer products or more advanced services, or perhaps enter into an emerging market you hadn’t considered before? Experimenting with new products, services and sales tactics will open your business’s doors to a new world of customers.
2018 promises fresh opportunities for new ideas, strategies and, ultimately, small business growth. It’s a chance to strengthen customer relationships, build new ones, and push yourself and your business to reach new levels of success. Making one of your goals to significantly increase your customer base in order to grow your business is an excellent starting point. Experiment with different approaches and tactics and you’ll find what works for your customers and your business.
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Author: John Oechsle