Many business owners wanting to grow their business start with “I need more customers”. As you will discover it’s not always the most effective way, but is what many businesses concentrate on.
Here are some of the most common options companies are using:
Social media, opt-in pages for collecting email addresses, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC), advertising, direct mail, telesales, salespeople, trade shows, recommendations and word of mouth.
Despite their potential, many businesses only use a tiny fraction of these possible strategies to get more customers. And with the strategies they do use, there is always room for improvement.
Therefore, the two keys to getting more customers are:
- Making your existing strategies more efficient and effective
- Testing new strategies
Referrals and word-of-mouth are one of the very best ways to get new customers. There are 2 main reasons why:
- When someone’s friend, family member or another contact they know, like and trust tells them that you are the person they should buy from, that’s a far warmer introduction than a mere advert, brochure or cold call. It means they are much more likely to actually buy.
- Referrals are free!
Think about your own business: what do you have in place to give you a constant stream of recommendations in a systematic way? And how often do you test new versions of those systems to see whether they give you even better results?
Every business should have at least 5 different referral systems, so here are just six possible referral systems you could introduce:
- Customer questionnaires that include a “who else do you know who could benefit in the same way that you have?” type of question.
- Your team asking that same question every time they talk to customers.
- Joining a referrals club like BNI or BRX.
- Giving your customers multiple sets of your card, brochure and special offer literature to pass on to their friends and contacts.
- Systematically asking for recommendations on linkedIn.
- In some businesses, you could even make it one of your terms of business that if a customer is happy they WILL automatically recommend you to other people.
There are dozens of other strategies that you could develop. For example, you could look at:
- Differentiating your business from your competitors in ways that your customers value.
- Testing different scripts to find out which words give you the best results when customers say, “why should we buy from you?”
- Giving your customers something extra.
- Using publicity to advertise your business for free.
- Getting others to help you grow your customer base for free by creating strategic marketing alliances- e.g. a plumber and electrician could double their respective customer bases by simply introducing their customers to each other.
- Writing better headlines for all your marketing literature.
- Increasing the response rates to all your marketing initiatives by re-writing all your marketing literature.
- Using the latest research finding to make your marketing literature even more compelling.
- Educating your customers about the benefits to them of dealing with you.
- Using video to demonstrate your expertise and promoting your videos through YouTube and other social media channels.
- Using pay-per-click advertising on site like Google, Facebook & LinkedIn.
- Using Social media to share valuable content and build relationships with people who you would like as customers.
However, just focussing on a referral strategy can have a big impact.
If you could capture 2 referrals from each of your customers every year and if you convert half of those referrals into new customers- that’s one new customer for every existing customer – they you would double your business every year.