A stagnating business is more likely to fail than one that’s growing.
I mean, let’s face it. That’s just common sense. Businesses that experience new growth – in the form of new customers – have an advantage over businesses that are barely managing to hold onto their existing customers.
That’s not to say that customer retention doesn’t matter. It does! But attracting new customers is a must. And it can be expensive. In fact, research shows that attracting a new customer can be up to 10 times as costly as retaining an existing customer.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. And, not all customer-attraction methods are necessarily expensive. Here are seven (relatively) low-cost ways to acquire new customers and grow your business.
1. Update Your Audience Research
I’m always amazed when I talk to business owners and they tell me that the last time they conducted audience research was years ago.
That’s crazy. Audiences change. You’ve got to know who’s interested in your products – and why they’re interested – if you’re going to understand how to bring your audience to your site.
If it’s been a while since you conducted any audience research, it’s time to get back on the horse. For example, you can:
- Check your analytics and look for new trends
- Create a customer survey and email it to your list
- Do a social media survey
These things will help you fine-tune your targeting. You can also use them to create (or update) a customer persona or avatar to help you with your marketing.
2. Know Your Competition
Competitor research is another key component of customer acquisition. After all, you and your competitors are vying for the same audience. Knowing what they do and how they’re doing it can help you pull ahead in the race for new business.
A couple of easy tactics to use include:
- Tracking your competitor’s backlinks and traffic
- Monitoring your competitor’s social mentions
- Doing a complete audit of their websites
- Reading their blog and other marketing materials
Ongoing competitor research will ensure that you’re not losing out to your competitors.
3. Focus on Benefits, not Features
Another common mistake business owners make is getting too wrapped up in their product’s cool features at the expense of considering the customer’s experience.
Let’s face it. A potential customer doesn’t want to hear your brag about how awesome your product is. They want to know what it’s going to do for them.
Don’t tell them that a frying pan has a non-stick surface. Tell them that it will simplify their clean-up! That’s a simple example, but it illustrates the point.
You can list your products features briefly, but most of your marketing should focus on benefits. Think about your customer (see #1) and the problem they want solved. Then, explain how your product will solve it.
4. Build Trust with Your Target Audience
If you know anything about marketing, then you know about the Rule of 7. It says that, on average, a customer must have seven interactions with your brand before they’ll buy from you.
The key to building trust is to use those seven “touches” wisely. You’ll need to be consistent. That means knowing your audience, having a clear vision for your brand, and using the same voice for all your online content, whether it’s on your website or social media.
And speaking of social media, it’s ideal for building trust. You can connect with your followers every day without seeing overly sales-y or obnoxious.
5. Pair with Other Businesses
You can’t expect your direct competitors to refer business to you. That would be counterproductive for them. But that doesn’t mean that B2B referrals aren’t possible.
Try searching for businesses in your niche – or in a related niche – that aren’t in direct competition with you. Then, approach the owners about the potential for a reciprocal referral program or joint venture.
For example, if you sell dog training products and there’s a company that sells cleaning products for people with pets, you could pair up to create special offers and referrals. You might link to their site and have them link to yours, and you could even create limited time offers and specials.
The key is that you’ll get access to their customer base and they’ll get access to yours – and you probably won’t have to spend anything to do it.
6. Create a Referral Program
It’s important not to ignore your current customers as ambassadors for your brand. After all, who’s in a better position to tell new customers about the benefits of buying from you?
The key is not to assume that your existing customers will spread the word about you and your products. They might do it without prompting, but why not make it easy for them? A strong referral program can bring you new business on a regular basis.
Many referral programs incentivize referrals. For example, you might offer customers a free product (or a free month of service) in return for a referral. Or, you might host a special event for customers who refer new business to you.
Make sure to specify the terms of any rewards and to provide customers with what they need to make referrals, whether it’s a supply of business cards or brochures or a dedicated URL on your website.
7. Create Shareable Coupons and Offers
A referral program is one thing. But what if you could convince your existing social media followers to spread the word about your products in return for a simple coupon?
You can! The next time you’re running a promotion, encourage your followers to share it. Your call to action can say something like, “Why keep all the savings for yourself? Share this post with your friends and family so they can get a bargain, too!”
The key is not to assume that people will share your content. They may not know that it’s okay with you for them to do so – so make sure to ask in your call to action.
New customers aren’t everything…
But, if you want your business to grow, you’ll need to expand your reach. These 7 simple tips can help you attract new customers without blowing through your marketing budget. Instead, you can use them to blow past your competition!