⏱ 5 min reading
We all know that as a small business owner, it can be hard to actually attract customers and to make sure they will stick with you. Ultimately, in most cases you want customers who will be loyal to you rather than having customers that change very often. But where the hell do you even start if you want to attract more customers? Worry no more! We’ve got you covered on this one.
Know your business (no joke)
First things first. And yes, we know that this one may sound really obvious. But honestly, it does happen that small business owners (or even larger businesses) don’t really know their own business completely. If you’re a small business owner and you’ve never heard of Simon Sinek, please read his book “Start with Why” or if you’re not much of a reader, just watch his 20-minute TED talk. Simon argues that companies that really succeed in the long haul are companies that first started with the WHY. When people ask about your business, in most cases you’ll probably answer by saying WHAT it is that you do. But for communicating an effective message that people engage with, you should start with WHY you started your business in the first place. And this WHY comes from you and your past. It’s the sum of your values and beliefs (just watch his example on Apple to understand better). Then your HOW communicates how you will achieve this (so this essentially means your differentiating factors). The last part, then, is the WHAT, which will tell about the products that you sell. When you start with the WHY and then work your way to the WHAT, the whole communication message is much more clear and much more effective and this will engage people more. When people believe in the same thing that a company believes in (the WHY), they will feel connected to it.
Who am I actually selling to?
Once you’ve really determined WHY you started your business, HOW you make a difference with your business and WHAT it is you actually offer, it’s good to have a look at your target group. Because if you don’t know the people who you’re selling your product or offering your service to are, this will make it difficult to get and retain customers. Determining your target group might be easier or more difficult depending on your business, but it’s one of the most essential elements you have to undertake. An important thing to keep in mind, just like you can’t be friends with everyone, you cannot have everyone as your target group. Sure, your target group might be really big, but keep in mind that not everyone is the same and that it’s thus impossible to make everyone happy with your product or service. Figure out who your ideal customer is and then figure out what they want, need and like. Remember that your customers are such a valuable source of information so once you have a customer base, ask for their feedback! And maybe even more important, when you have a negative experience with a customer, listen carefully to what they have to say because you might learn a lot from it.
The game you’re in is infinite
Let’s stay with Simon Sinek a little bit longer. In his latest book, he talks about there being finite games and infinite games. In a finite game, the rules and the players are clear and everyone who’s in the game knows what’s expected of them. You’re in a finite game with the goal to win. However, in infinite games, the rules and players are not so much set in stone and more importantly, the goal is not to win. The goal of an infinite game is to stay in it as long as you possibly can. And running your business with an infinite mindset means that you are focused on staying in business for the long haul, and not just for the purpose of making profit. I can hear you wondering, but how does this attract customers? Give me some practical tips please! Well, okay here we go. When you’re in an infinite game, you focus on the future and this comes with a Just Cause. This Just Cause defines where you will go and because it’s so much focused on the future and a better version of it, we can constantly strive to do better and we can always keep playing the game and always keep attracting customers who also believe in the cause.
Market your product
It’s true that there are companies (such as Zara) who became well-known without a traditional marketing approach and advertising strategies. However, in most cases a clear marketing direction and the efforts that go into it will result in much more brand awareness. And this is precisely what we want to attract more customers! More brand awareness will lead to more people knowing about your company, which will increase the chances of them becoming a customer.
It’s also about the place
Besides the fact that it’s important to look at your ideal customer and how you want to target this customer, the geographical market that you’re in will also influence how you can best attract customers. Because cultures vary a lot, and when attracting customers you most definitely do not want to offend anyone. When you’re in your home market, this is probably a piece of cake, because you already know the culture and customs. But when you’re entering a new geographical market because you want to attract more customers, really take a look at the specific market. Setting up an export plan is an excellent way to do this.
Retaining & Referral (R&R)
Lastly, it’s not all about attracting customers but also about keeping your customers. You will get so much more value out of recurring customers. They will keep your business alive. And once you have that solid base of customers who believe in the same thing you believe in, they will be so excited that they will spread the message across their friends and family. Word-of-mouth promotion might be one of the most reliable options to attract more customers. Simply because people believe their friends and family so much more. They believe them because they trust them and much the same as with Rome, trust isn’t built in a single day. Think about it for a second. If you had the choice between buying a shampoo after a friend recommended it to you and all of the positive changes it did for their hair, would you then leave that shampoo in the store and instead buy one that you just saw some commercial from earlier in the morning? Didn’t think so.