Despite some sceptical business owners claiming the contrary, it is actually possible to double one’s customer base in a single month. For some reason, people seem to only expect growth in line or slightly about the rate of inflation, so they believe it is possible to obtain a 5% increase – or maybe 10% – in their customer base but they think 100% is simply not achievable. However, if you change the way you think, you’ll realise that such success is in fact achievable.
Daniela Grendene introduces the first 5 of the top 11 ways to kick-start that growth chart off the scale…
- Build a loyalty ladder and create a fan base
Loyal customers are ideal customers, and so coming up with some sort of formal loyalty programme, either via a loyalty card or VIP membership can be key to keeping them. If you can incentivise your preferred customers in order to make them feel special, you can then ensure each interaction exceeds their expectations. By rewarding them for repeat Business, it can encourage them to become cheerleaders for your organisation which, in turn, creates self-perpetuating referrals.
- Employ clever direct mail campaigns
Direct mail can be very effective, somewhat paradoxically now that its overall popularity has waned in recent years. Campaigns work best for reaching a specific consumer demographic, rather than a ‘spray and pray’ approach. Unlike broader methods of advertising which tend to hit everyone within a given geographic area, Direct Mail works best when it arrives at the doorstep of consumers who are already known to be great candidates for your product or service.
Campaigns should be to-the-point and include a call to action, whether it’s ‘bring this voucher into the store for a 15% discount’, or ‘take advantage of this offer available before it expires.’
Likewise, it is also important to only send out as many mails as you can follow up on, and then to make time to do so.
- Create a formal referral programme
Design a referral programme that rewards customers for attracting others. For example, if you run a spa, you could offer your client a discount off their next treatment if they bring in a friend with them (the friend pays the normal rate). Referral rewards can be in the form of discounts, gifts, invitations to special events, or closed-door sales events where only certain customers are invited to participate and take advantage of savings, exclusive products and other preferred-customer perks.
- Ditch the chaff and take care of your top clients
Many business owners balk at the thought of letting go of any customers and yet most operators could benefit from weeding out their worst clients. You know the ones – those who always complain, don’t pay on time and give you 80% of your headaches but only 20% of your income.
Rank your clients from A to D, with A being the best and D the worst. Put simply, if you get rid of the Ds you’ll have more room for the As. Begin by identifying your best customers by applying the 80-20 rule, which states that 80 percent of a company’s business comes from 20 percent of its customers. Invest extra energy in your A customers while extending service above and beyond the call of duty. Next, try to identify which of your B and C clients you could foreseeably promote to A-class clients. Once this has been achieved you can ditch the Ds altogether.
- Create strategic business alliances
I find that many business owners say they do this, but don’t actually formalise the alliances. By partnering with other businesses with which there is a common customer demographic but no actual direct competition, a company can expand its customer base quickly and easily. Those customers who trust other businesses and have proven their loyalty to them will be inclined to follow their recommendations or perceived endorsements of an alliance partner. As an example, a stock broker and a luxury car dealer may share a similar target market, and can send each other referral business. The stock broker might be able to send his top clients an invitation to the exclusive launch of a new vehicle, while the car dealer could offer his top clients a free first consultation with the stock broker. Both are offering value to their clients and sending the partner potential business leads.
The final six steps to doubling your customer base will be published on Monday 6th May.
Daniela Grendene is an executive coach with 25 years’ experience who teaches directors about business results and making money. For more information on how they can help you and your organisation to reach the next level, visit www.actioncoach.co.uk.