Shane Barker
Shane Barker 22 July 2020
Categories B2C, Search Marketing

7 Ways to Get Customers to Your Small Business

Looking for proven tactics to attract customers to your small business? Check out this post for 7 actionable tips, along with illustrations and free resources.

Running a small business can be exciting and challenging at the same time. 

You get to transform your great business ideas into a real entity. But you also have to compete with 30.7 million other small businesses for consumer attention. A-list brands with deep pockets make the competition even stiffer.

Often, entrepreneurs find the challenges to be stronger than the incentives. I don’t mean to discourage you but it’s a fact that 50% of small businesses fail within their first year. 

Unbelievable, isn’t it?

With such odds, your small business needs tried-and-tested strategies to survive and thrive. In this post, I’ll discuss seven ways to draw customers to your small business effectively.

Let’s get started.

7 Tactics: How a Small Business Can Attract Customers

Whether your small business is a brick-and-mortar store or an ecommerce portal, you need marketing tips to beat the competition. Aggressive marketing and advertising can do the job, as can nurturing existing customers to earn repeat sales.

Below, I’ve covered tactics that can be used online and offline by small businesses in all niches. For maximum impact, I recommend that you use all of these strategies. However, for small businesses, marketing budgets can be a constraint. In that case, pick a few tactics that fit your budget, and extend your campaign when the money starts pouring in.

  1. Retarget Old Customers

Earning new customers is harder than converting existing customers. Research proves that returning customers are the second-most important revenue source, according to 44% of small business owners.

Dig out your lapsed customer list from your CRM software and email subscriber database. Reach out to customers who haven’t engaged with your brand from some time. 

Target them with phone calls, paid online ads, direct emails, and text messages. Restart the conversation by sending a “Hello, [NAME], we’ve missed you” message. Leverage the insights you have about each customer to send them relevant promotions and deals. Follow up with more timely offers. 

While targeting lost customers/leads, ensure that you send them offers that align with their stage in the buyer journey.  

For instance, if you send a free product trial to a website visitor who just read a blog post and bounced, it will be wasteful. A better tactic is to send them hand-picked posts/resources, based on their browsing history. If they take action on your message, you can nurture the relationship further. 

You can use web analytics platforms to drill down into each website visitor’s actions. These tools can identify customers with a high conversion potential. Using data from these tools, you can tailor your retargeting message and win back customers.

Need inspiration?

I signed up for a hashtag tracking tool but didn’t buy their premium plan. Immediately, they sent me this retargeting email with an enticing offer. 

The message copy is personal, hyper-focused, and compelling. You can also set up email workflows like these and automate them for assured deliverability.

  1. Get Listed on Online Directories

If you ask a digital marketing strategist for help with lead generation, one of the first things they will advise is to get listed on online directories, like Google My Business (GMB) and Yelp. A strong listing can help your small business get an edge over competitors in online searches. It can also earn your local business in-store visits.

Always keep your listing information fresh, complete, and accurate. Encourage your customers to rate and review your business. Sometimes, searchers leave questions about your business on your listing. Reply to them on priority.

  1. Referral Marketing

Modern customers are very discerning, especially millennials (23-to-38-year-olds). They don’t trust traditional forms of advertising as much. Rather, their purchase decisions are most influenced by recommendations from trusted friends, according to a Radius study.

What does that mean for you? 

You can generate new leads from your existing customers. Once you have earned your customers’ loyalty, you can ask them for referrals. Instead of waiting around for them to bring you new leads, be proactive and craft a referral marketing strategy. 

Your loyal customers will work harder at helping you build your network if you incentivize them properly. You can offer them discounts, free updates, or store credit for the sales that originate from them. To track attribution, invest in a referral marketing tool. These tools can keep a tab on your brand advocates’ conversions and calculate the amount payable to them.

Uber has a robust referral marketing program for drivers and riders. Drivers earn a cash reward for adding more drivers to the Uber network. Users can earn free rides by getting their friends to install the Uber app. 

  1. Discounts and Deals

Who doesn’t love a sale?

Literally nobody. You can lure new customers by introductory sale offers, bundled products, and free delivery or gift wrapping. Such bargains can help you poach your competitors’ customers. They can also be the tipping point for people who might be keen to do business with you but just needed an incentive to do so.

To draw the attention of potential customers to your sale, you can use direct messages or email broadcasts. I’ve already explained how emails work. 

Let’s talk about SMS marketing. Text messages or SMS are like a direct line of communication to your customers. Considering that people are literally glued to their cell phones, text messages have a higher open rate than emails. But bear in mind that you need to obtain opt-in from customers before sending them messages.

Once you have a broadcast mechanism in place, monitor how each recipient engages with your message. Do they click on or redeem your offers? Then, send them more deals of the same kind to cement their loyalty.

  1. Showcase Your Expertise

To compete with established brands, you need to work hard at growing your brand’s reputation. By showcasing your skills and services, you can generate customer interest in your brand.

You can craft product tutorials, videos/posts on valuable hacks, research whitepapers, and ebooks/guides on topics in which you are skilled. Then use those lead magnets to capture the contact details of prospects.

What else?

You can have a formal affiliate marketing system in place. For doing that, you can hire influencers and thought leaders in your industry to create value-added content that you can share with your target audience. You can get them to write and share favorable reviews about your brand on social networks.

  1. Participate in Industry Events

Being a small business, you need to build a network to earn new customers. You need to step out of the office and be a part of prominent events in your industry. Joining the Chamber of Commerce or trade associations can be a great starting point. 

Why, you ask?

Because, if you participate actively in industry-related events, you can earn new business contacts. Participating in high-profile events can be a good talking point for your newsletter. It can act as a magnet for new customers since it shows you as a progressive brand. 

Since your small business likely doesn't yet have the resources to host events of your own and earn leads through event marketing, networking at industry events is the next best option.

If you own a local business, it’s a good idea to be seen at community events where you get to interact one-on-one with potential customers. But don’t convert those networking opportunities into promotional opportunities. Instead, go with a how-can-I-help-you attitude, and you’re sure to score new leads.

  1. Collaborate with Complementary Brands

There may be businesses that are targeting the same customer base as you but are not a direct competitor. You can team up with them and earn new customers without spending a lot on independent marketing.

For instance, if you deal in flooring and furnishing, you can strike up a deal with interior designers or home remodelers to refer their customers to you. In return, you can offer a commission or complimentary services/products.

If the collaboration turns out to be mutually beneficial, you can extend it by creating co-branding solutions, like Nike+iPod Sports Kit.

​Fitness and music often go together and the two brands build a new product to capitalize on the connection. Needless to say, both brands grew their customer bases through this collaboration.

Are You Ready to Grow Your Customer Base?

Small businesses don’t have huge marketing and advertising budgets like big brands. That’s why the strategies I’ve covered in this article are relatively low-cost. Once you have grown your customer base by using these tricks, you can go for targeted advertising and website optimization, which require more investment.

Do you have any questions about how to implement these strategies? Leave them in the comments below. I’m always happy to answer.

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