How to Identify and Attract Customers
Finding customers is among the most daunting challenges for small business owners, especially for businesses that have just opened their doors. Check out these proven strategies to find customers and generate business.
Identify Your Target Market
Hone in on your ideal customer
Who is your ideal customer? Are they male or female? Young or old? In Miami, Florida or Seattle, Washington? Do they live on $25,000 or $250,000 a year? Once you narrow down who you are trying to reach, you can better sharpen your marketing strategy.
For example, if you’re starting an upscale hair salon in New York City, your ideal customer might be a fashion-forward woman between 25 and 35 who has a disposable income.
Define what your product or service helps with
They need their hair cut; you can cut it. But it’s not that simple.
Target your ideal customer by getting specific in your offering. In this case, you’d focus on delivering high-end beauty products, precision stylists and the latest hair trends. You must also make sure your business is accessible and that your services are priced right.
Your business can’t be all things to all people. Choose your target and sharpen from there. A skilled hair dresser at your trendy salon can surely cut a child’s hair and charge $10, but by trying to cater toward more than just your target market — young women who are willing to pay $150 to get their hair done — you lose your audience and your brand.
But don’t be afraid to branch out
Once you’ve been in the game for a bit, you might identify new markets you’d like to reach out to. Maybe this upscale hair salon could start catering to businessmen who appreciate the luxury experience, for example. A customer relationship management system or enterprise planning software can help you analyze your sales data to identify patterns. Databases like Ibis World, Hoover’s and Forrester can help pinpoint trends too.
Build a Specific Strategy
Promote based on the markets you’re looking to reach
You can put the word out about your new endeavor and see what happens, but without direction, your message won’t travel very far. Be specific based on the markets you’re looking to reach.
If your business is a local cocktail bar and you’re trying to cater to an affluent crowd that comes into town during the summer months or on weekends, you might consider adding wine pairings to the menu or bringing in a high-profile chef to attract diners seeking a more comprehensive, luxury experience.
Form strategic partnerships
To attract new customers, one of the most effective strategies is partnering with other non-competing businesses that already have your target market in their customer base.
For instance: A pastry chef without a storefront might partner with several local coffee shops. The coffee shops will sell the pastries and both parties will get a cut of the profits.
To form a strategic partnership:
Define your ideal customer. Who are they and what types of products and services might they buy?
Determine what other companies serve that same market demographic.
Develop an offer that would be mutually beneficial to your potential partner and your company, then pitch them.
Supply your partner with marketing materials they can use to promote you to their customers. Be strategic about turning new customers you attract into repeat buyers.
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