Growing your business presents challenges such as how to keep current customers while still finding ways to get more business. It requires a delicate balancing act that divides resources in a smart way. It costs at least five times as much to gain a new customer as to retain a current customer, so it makes sense to first ensure that existing customers are well cared for and happy.
Here are nine ways to get more business and still keep your current customers.
1. Help a Local Charity
If you’re having a hard time breaking into small business web design in your area, start by offering your services to a local non-profit. You’ll gain some traction in the business community and exposure as the charity thanks you publicly for your help.
Choose a cause you already believe in so that you’ll be passionate about creating a fantastic design for them. Offer your services at no charge in exchange for permission to place a link to your design website in the footer (designed by ABC Designs).
Also, request that they tell their mailing list that you’ve created a new design for them. The extra exposure to their mailing list and social media followers is the same as free advertising.
2. Choose a Niche
Experts estimate that by the year 2027, more than 50 percent of American workers will freelance. No matter what type of business you run, you’re up against some stiff competition as more and more people turn to freelance work.
Stand out by choosing a niche and excelling in that area. If someone needs an efficiency expert for their hospital and you specialize in efficiency for health care, your name should be the go-to name online and in person for efficiency in health care. Take additional courses, volunteer your services, find a mentor and become the best in your field of expertise.
3. Join Your Local Chamber of Commerce
One of the ways to get more business involves networking with other business owners in your area. Call your local chamber of commerce and see what types of meetings they offer. Traditionally, a local CoC offers monthly or quarterly meetings for local businesses and several events a year that highlight local business owners.
Some groups also host a website with links to local business websites, and many also hold fairs and gatherings. When you’re attending any type of networking event, seek out like-minded business owners who complement rather than compete with your business. If you own a local golf instruction school, for instance, a complementary business would be a golf cart store.
4. Improve Customer Service
When customers experience positive customer service from a company, they tell about 11 people about it, but if they experience poor customer service, they tell at least 15. Spend time improving your customer service, and you’ll keep current customers happy and engaged. In return, they’ll tell friends and family, increasing your customer base via word-of-mouth.
Improve this service by implementing faster response methods and adopting a policy stating that the customer is always right.
5. Ask for Testimonials
If you’ve done the work in step number four, your customer base should be happy with your services. Ask for testimonials from them, and highlight their words of praise on your website, in marketing materials and on social media advertising.
People believe reviews of peers before they believe what a company says about itself. Peppering in testimonials shows that you have other, already satisfied customers. Leads are more likely to put their trust in you and give your product or services a chance if they see that others love your brand.
6. Provide Incentives
Start a referral program and offer incentives when current customers refer new customers to your business. Incentives should tie into what you offer. If you design, provide a free logo redesign or website refresh when a client refers someone new to you. You can also provide credits on their account. If their renewal rate is X dollars per year, offer so much credit toward that renewal rate for each referral.
Incentives do eat into your overall profits, so make sure what you offer takes into account the value a new client brings. Perhaps the initial rate isn’t much, but when the client renews in subsequent years, you’ll gain traction. Take this fact into consideration along with the idea that you give the incentive one time, but renewals come in every renewal period.
7. Offer a Guarantee
When people buy a product or service from you, they’re putting their trust in your business. A percentage won’t trust you and won’t want to part with their hard-earned dollars. A money-back guarantee may be the incentive needed to make that first sale to a new customer.
If your product is all you promise, a money-back guarantee isn’t as risky. Make sure you understand the potential costs of such a guarantee, however, before offering it.
8. Reward Employees
A happy employee tells family and friends about your brand and spreads the word for you. Think about ways of rewarding the best employees who go out of their way to do an excellent job for you. Host a weekly gathering with a free lunch and recognition for achievements, give a Christmas bonus and make employees part of a movement rather than people who can’t wait for the work week to end.
9. Form a Partnership
Find the influencers in your industry, and form partnerships with them. In a partnership, each party gains access to the customers belonging to the other person.
Let’s go back to the golf instructor and golf cart retailer example. The two form a partnership. The golf cart retailer sends out an email to their mailing list letting their customers know that the golf instructor is offering a special for Golf Carts ‘R’ Us customers for the next 24 hours.
The next week, the golf instructor sends out a message to their clients about the newest carts that Golf Carts ‘R’ Us just got in and offers a similar discount. The two businesses work together to reach new customers and expand their reach in a similar niche.
There are many ways to get more business — just think of creative ways to reach new customers. Attend local festivals, interact with others in your area, create a hashtag for an online event and study ways your competitors attract customers. Find unique marketing ploys, and target them to your specific audience. Before you know it, your current customers will tell new customers about how amazing you are, and your business will snowball.
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.