Just because your business is small, it doesn’t mean that your customer base has to be small as well. You can expand the size of your pool to include some pretty big fish; you just need to have a plan. Here are helpful tips that should have your small business generating more leads.
Customers are the foundation of any business.
You can’t get around it, nor should you try. Whether you sell directly to consumers or B2B, whether you offer products or services, whether your business is a multinational conglomerate or a one-person show operating out of your garage, your success or failure depends entirely upon your ability to attract and retain customers.
Let’s stop and take a closer look at that last one. When your business is just starting out, or if you rely on local consumers to make ends meet, it can be difficult to gather the necessary leads to grow into something larger. As a result, you may find that your organization is stuck fishing in a small pond, catching enough customers to stay afloat, but never quite enough to expand.
You don't have to be a small business forever. By placing your focus and targeting resources on key marketing areas, you can actually increase the size of your customer pool and catch new and better leads. Here are eight ways small businesses in small ponds can attract an ocean’s worth of “big-fish” customers.
In the past few decades, it’s become fairly commonly known that for a business to succeed, it needs to have an online presence. However, what isn’t as understood by certain businesses is just what that entails.
Basically, in order to grow, you need to move beyond the paid advertising, and focus on creating an online identity that is natural and alluring to customers. This means creating interesting and useful content and posting it free of charge. It means becoming a dedicated user and follower of social media, and using it to connect with customers and potential customers socially on a regular basis. It means keeping your various sites and pages looking their best, and updating information regularly and quickly. It does not mean spamming your prospects with advertisements and constant reminders that they need to give you money.
Increase the number of landing pages on your site. Businesses with 31 to 40 landing pages get on average seven times more leads than those with only 1 to 5 landing pages, so more landing pages means more leads. When interested parties do click on your paid ads or a come in through organic search (SEO), they’ll be able to receive information that is targeted towards their specific interests, rather than just funneling all your prospects to the general linformation on your homepage, or worse, straight to an online order form.
An online presence is all about inbound marketing, and when you let customers make the first move, you’ll see that they are a bit more open to doing business. So, if you haven’t taken the time to evaluate your online presence, do it! If you have already evaluated it, reevaluate it and ask yourself what else you could be doing to optimise it. For many customers, who your company is online, is who your company is, period.
You may feel as though for your business to succeed, other businesses have to fail. However, that it's not that simple. By developing alliances with other businesses—even potential competitors—you company can actually become stronger and gain more customers.
For example, if you run a car dealership, you could ally yourself with another dealership nearby, so that if a customer is unable to find something suitable on your lot, you can simply send that customer to the other dealership, and the other dealership can send customers your way as well.
Referring and receiving referrals from other businesses will allow you to increase your customer base, while also showing those customers that you care about them enough to help them get what they need—even if you don’t end up closing a sale in the process. Think about how to create symbiotic relationships with the businesses around you, and yes, competitors can also work together for the benefit of both businesses.
If you can prove to your customers that you always have their best interests in mind, then once they have a need that you can fulfill, they’ll be sure to come to you first.
When you do your job well, the natural result is a happy customer.
Happy customers are rewarding, but it shouldn’t be the end of your interaction. Instead, do a bit of follow up with your satisfied customers. Check in with them a week or a month later. Ask them to review how you’ve done, and to give you honest feedback on everything.
Ask them if they have any friends or colleagues who might be able to benefit from your services. If the answer is yes, then you’ve got an easy in with another lead who might well be ready to purchase. Referrals are responsible for 65% of all new business, and customers who are referred to a company by a friend are four times as likely to make a purchase.
Even if they don't respond or review, your communication keeps their experience with your company at the front of their mind, so the name of your business will be easier to recall when the time comes.
You have to be creative to acquire new leads and prospects, but don't forget that potential customers could be secured just by asking your current ones. If you’re not following up on your sales by asking for reviews, you’re ignoring low-hanging fruit.
Going hand in hand with the concept of referrals, reviews are an inexpensive way to promote your brand online. By providing a space on your website for customers to rank their experiences, you’ll be able to show interested parties just how valuable your products or services are, which will help you acquire more customers, due to the fact that 90% of buying decisions are influenced by online reviews.
You might be concerned with bad reviews, so what’s to stop customers from posting negative reviews? Well, nothing, actually. If customers are having bad experiences, then that’s an issue that you need to address with your business.
The good news is that even in the event that your customers are unhappy, reviews are still profitable, in that they provide you with invaluable customer feedback that you might never have had access to otherwise. They also give you an opportunity to make things right, and if you’re able to resolve the concern, 70% of customers will give you a second chance and continue to do business with you.
Once you’ve gotten your house in order, you’ll be able to enjoy the exposure that comes from positive reviews. Don’t concern yourself about the occasional negative review showing up (all businesses get them from time to time); these actually help show customers that all of the reviews are genuine, rather than fabricated to make your business look good.
Whatever you do, don’t delete negative reviews—unless they contain offensive language or are simply being used to bait you into a flame-war. If you ignore and remove a post from an unhappy client, then you’ll only be making things worse.
Reviews can increase your business by a significant portion. A Harvard Business School study showed that for every one-star increase on Yelp usually boosted business revenue anywhere from 5-9%. Good reviews ultimately equal business growth.
No matter the size of your business, every customer count, but they're even more crucial when you're a smaller business looking to grow.
This is why you should always make sure to keep the personal details and information regarding your leads, prospects, and buyers safe and accessible. After all, when you’re getting ready to close a sale, you don’t want to have to rely on a Post-it note, or email attachement to retrieve the customer data you need.
This is where customer relationship management (CRM) comes into play. CRM allows companies, big and small, to store customer data—everything from phone numbers to social media information to details regarding past conversations and personal customer likes—usually in the cloud so it's easy to retrieve from anywhere in the world and on any platform. Thus, if the opportunity to close an account presents itself, you won’t have to rush back to your desk to see it through.
If your business isn’t already enjoying the advantages of a CRM tool, then it’s well past time to get on board. Studies show that businesses that use CRM increase their sales by 25% on average, especially when a business is doing CRM the right way. The question isn’t can your business afford to invest in CRM? But rather can it afford not to?
Customers want to know that you aren’t simply a salesman trying to push a product; they want someone who really understands that product and believes in it. So, if you can demonstrate your knowledge and your confidence in a way that is accessible to customers, they’ll have faith in what you’re offering.
You can do this by posting personal insights on company blogs, speaking at events, hosting seminars, etc. Basically, any way that you can increase your knowledge and demonstrate your expertise will result in increased profits in the long run. You’ll be able not only to solidify your relationship with existing customers, but you’ll also strengthen your reputation in your industry, and through that reputation, you’ll attract more buyers.
All of these tips are designed to help you draw customers in towards your business, and to help you identify promising leads from among the crowd. But there’s more to it than just preparing and recognizing prospects; you also have to be ready for them. 35-50% of sales go to the vendor that responds first, so once the pieces are all in place, don’t hesitate; be ready to close the deal at all times, so that when the customer is ready to start the sales process, you won’t have to run to catch up.
But what does that really mean? It means that you need to know your customers, and your potential customers. Know what motivates them. Know their needs. Learn how to recognize the signs that say that they’re ready to purchase. It also means that you should have access to their information at all times, because if they decide that they’re ready, but they see that you’re not, they’ll probably take their business elsewhere.
The easiest way to increase the size of your customer pool is also perhaps the most effective. Whenever you make any business decision, simply ask yourself, If I were a customer, how would I feel about this? By empathizing with the people who make up the foundation of your business, you’ll be able to lead your organization in a direction that benefits them the most. And once you master that, you won’t have any trouble catching all the customers you need, whether you’re fishing in a small pond, or fishing in the ocean.