There’s always uncertainty in owning a small business. But you’re not going to move forward unless you experiment with new strategies to grow your business.
With that in mind, business development — identifying new customer bases and building relationships — should be a top priority. If you’re unsure where to start, we’ve put together five ideas for how you can find new customers to grow your business.
1. Tap into your social media following.
When you’re looking for anything from a new dentist to a new restaurant, it’s human nature to ask people you know for suggestions. We trust our friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers to steer us in the right direction and give us honest advice.
Now, thanks to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social networking platforms, it’s easier than ever for people to crowdsource and share suggestions. Mobilize your followers to spread your message by adding a call to action at the end of every post such as “share this” or “tag a friend.”
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2. Practice radical transparency.
Millennials, that powerful and sought-after demographic, aren’t just looking for great products and services. As consumers, they want to buy from companies they believe in.
So, if you want to attract millennials, be open about your business: where your products are made and who is making them, how the items are packaged and transported, and the charitable organizations you support.
Post this information on your site and promote it through social media, advertising, and in media coverage so potential customers understand your mission and can feel good about supporting you.
3. Launch a referral program.
Loyal customers are precious assets, so cultivate those relationships and reward them for referring people in their network. There are a lot of options for doing this, ranging from simple to sophisticated.
You might offer referral links that customers can send to friends. Then, when the new referral makes a purchase, they, along with the referrer, get a discount.
You can also start a brand ambassador program that gives your best customers and biggest fans early or free access to new products or services, or rewards them for attracting new business.
4. Create a UGC marketing campaign.
User-generated content, or UGC, is a pretty self-explanatory term: It’s content (like social media posts and online reviews) that consumers produce to share their feelings and opinions about products, services, and businesses.
Research shows that consumers — especially millennials — check UGC before making purchases and often trust it more than traditional media. This makes UGC a pretty powerful tool that businesses can leverage in their marketing efforts.
5. Team up with other businesses.
Whether your business is brick and mortar, online, or a combination of the two, joining forces with a like-minded company is a stellar way to broaden your reach and maximize your marketing efforts.
If you own a clothing boutique, think about partnering with a local spa and restaurant for a giveaway package that includes a gift card, services, and a meal. Online registration for the giveaway would include an opt-in for email marketing lists, so your business can reach the customers who sign up from your partnering organizations.
There’s no limit to options, but before you propose (or agree to join) a multibusiness marketing promotion, make sure that it’s guaranteed to expand your audience.