Customers are the lifeblood of any business. Your customer base therefore is your treasure store for without it you are finished!
How do you build your customer base?
The quantity of customers required for any business varies considerably and the businesses that generally need thousands of customers may be selling a product that make it easier for them to find customers than for example a specialist consultant who may only need one or two customers a year.
The principles generally though for both extremes are very similar for building your customer base. There will be some differences and each business will need to apply what is best for their business.
Look after your customers
Once you have a customer you do not want to lose them and you also want them to be your ambassadors. Satisfied customers will recommend your business to their family friends, work colleagues and just about anyone else when the opportunity arises. This will naturally grow your customer base.
Their are a few things you can do though that will enhance this process. Always have a method of keeping in touch with your customers. This can be post as this works well in supplying customers with business cards, flyers and brochures that are not only a reminder for them to come back to you but can be passed on as referral tools. Emails and telephone calls are also good to have as part of your customer contact system.
Network for new customers
Networking really does work. It enables you to get out into the business community and let others know about you and your business. It takes time to build a bond with others and I recommend you read about networking to make sure that you do it right. Too many people get it all wrong! Here is a link to an article that will help you.
On your website or blog offer people the chance to give you their name and at least email address. You can do this best of all by offering a monthly prize, free ebook, online course, discount or a multitude of other things so that people will be motivated to part with their details. Signing up for your newsletter is not very effective these days unless it comes with a bonus as mentioned.
Once you have these people on your customer base take time to build rapport with them. Don’t bombard them with sales emails. Let them know when you have published a new article on your blog for example that contains information that will be of interest to your readers. Bringing them back to your website out of interest is far better than sending them a product to buy in the email.
If you have a shop where you would not normally gather names of customers you could have a competition where customers have to fill in their name and address to enter. Once you have this customer base you can use it to send out special offers.
Use Twitter, facebook and other forms of social media to generate a following and invite your current customers to follow you. You will then be able to generate a club atmosphere amongst your customers that will help you grow your customer base as others want to be part of the club.
If you advertise make sure that you spend your money wisely as many traditional forms of advertising are waning. Listings in telephone directories such as Yellow Pages are not very popular with the general public as they are switching to searching the Internet for businesses. This certainly affects some types of businesses more badly than others. Less newspapers are being sold and read. Specialist magazines could still be a good area to use along with local community magazines. Keep in mind though that even if a magazine or newspaper sells well your type of business may not be one that the majority of readers would be interested in.
When you do advertise in this way make sure that your advertisement gives the potential customer a call to action. Why should they come and see you or pick up the phone?
Manage your customer base
As you build your customer base you will need to make sure that you have an efficient and effective way to manage it. You will need to know not just their basic details but also when did you last contact them. What do they buy? What are their interests? What will you try to interest them in the future?
You may want to consider buying a Customer Relationship Management System (CRM) for your business to help you manage your customer base.
How do you build your customer base? Please leave your comments in the box below.