One way to increase your business growth is to increase your number of clients. But first you must identify who your customers are and why they would buy from you.
You can define your target market by determining who is already selling to the clients you want to reach. Who has their respect, trust and goodwill? You can also list the benefits your product and/or services provide potential customers.
Related: Need clients? The 5 best ways to market your consulting business
Next make a list of people who have a need or want for those benefits. You have just compiled a list of people who make up your target market. Now you need to grow your market. More customers will lead to higher profits and more business opportunities.
How can you increase your number of clients?
Strategic planning process for business growth in South Africa
Step 1. Refer a friend - develop a referral programme
A referral programme is the systematic way your business encourages existing clients to tell people about your product or service.
A marketing referral is defined as an act of referring a friend or acquaintance to receive the same product or service that was offered to you. In this way your small business acknowledges your client’s value and importance, while increasing your number of clients and increasing your business growth.
How do I build a customer referral system in South Africa?
Evaluate your current customer contact list: Segment your current customer list into predefined categories. Example: Males and Females. Males might prefer certain products that women would not appreciate being referred for, Braai set anyone? Narrow down your list by only including those customers you know value your business and would refer you without an incentive.
Keep your information organised and confidential by using a referral template: There’s a lot of tracking involved when receiving referrals from customers. The referral codes, contact details, demographics and financial status. To keep track of all this it might be necessary for you to implement an automated system. See resources below or choose an automated process, there are many automated email and website tools available.
Contact your customers for referrals: Always explain to a client the type of referral you’re looking for: ‘A like-minded individual, like yourself’. Give them a clear picture of who in their lives would benefit from your product or service.
Extend a total risk free, obligation free offer: Offer to consult their referral or let them sample your product, without expectation of purchase.
Be consistent and follow through: Call these customer referrals as soon as possible and provide them with the same courtesy and professionalism you deliver to your current customers.
Online ads have become a daily part of internet life. Social media ads can boost your business’s ranking in the Google search results page; increasing your customer base through online conversions. As a small business wanting to grow your clientele, you have many affordable online ad options available to you:
Advertise on Google: Google search ads are online ads that appear alongside the search engine results page when users search for something in Google.
Use Google Adwords to bid on certain keywords in order for clickable ads to appear in Google’s search results. You can advertise your business on Google by opening a Google Adwords account, see resources at the end of this article.
Advertising on Facebook: Facebook ads are very popular and in most cases highly effective. 79% of adults have a Facebook account. Your company’s ad will appear on the side columns of the Facebook website with a headline, copy and an image. Facebook advertising tips:
- Have a goal. The Facebook type you choose will depend on what you’re trying to achieve.
- Use Facebook Offers to capture attention. This lets you exclusively promote to Facebook users.
- Include a clear and direct Call-to-Action.
- Use your Facebook ads to highlight special deals.
- Go crazy with images, Facebook loves it!
Twitter ads: Promoted tweets will let your tweets reach more people, effectively increasing your business’s visibility.
Use Google Display Network if you want to buy online Ad Space: This will enable you to capture people’s attention at different points of the buying cycle and you can choose more specifically where you want your ad to appear.
Step 3. Develop a social media strategy
Many small businesses have successfully used social media to grow their business and so can you. Create awareness of your brand and attract new customers by using social media to increase your business’s visibility.
Share information about your business by interacting with people on various social media platforms. Facebook is by far the most popular social networking site, though there are several other very useful ones for connecting with people. Popular social sites include Facebook, Linkedin, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram. Decide which social media platform suits your brand identity and start sharing.
How do I develop a Social media Marketing Strategy for my small business?
- Firstly, choose your preferred social networks. Remember, if you don’t have time to consistently interact with people, DO NOT commit yourself to these networks.
- Then fill out your business profiles and ensure you appeal to the heart of your audience.
- It’s important that you find your marketing voice and tone. Look at your target audience and spend some time developing marketing personas. A buyer persona is a clear, detailed description of your primary, target customers. This is key to maximising your business exposure online, building relationships and increasing your number of clients.
- Next, create a content plan and editorial calendar. The content you publish must be planned in such a way that it elicits sharing behaviour from users. If you do this correctly you’ll receive your very own team of brand ambassadors.
- Make sure users are able to share your content. Find out how to develop social share buttons in the resources section.
- Users must be interested in the content you created. Do your research.
- Your content must be relevant to your intended audience.
- Feature your fans in your content. Put them in the spotlight and show how much you appreciate them. Their friends will be impressed.
- Use an editorial calendar to help you plan your content. Remember, timing is everything.
Lastly, it’s important that you listen and learn from your social media strategy. Analyse, measure and evaluate your social media marketing efforts. Social listening, also known as ‘social monitoring’, is the process of identifying and assessing what is being said about your business. You want it to be positive.
Related: Focus on top clients
Build testing capabilities into every action you take on social networks. Track page visits, bounce rates and marketing success. Most social networks have basic analytics built into the site, but you will benefit from reporting tools.
Social media marketing tips
- Arrange a virtual meet and greet. This puts a human face to your business.
- Connect with prospects across various social communities. This will expand your follower base and extend your overall online reach.
- Improve your response times. Show you care by listening and responding in a timely fashion.
- Tailor content to your audience. Keep your content relevant and useful.
Now that you’ve attracted your target audience you want them to convert into customers. Do this by implementing risk reversal tactics.
Step 4. Risk reversal
It’s human nature to avoid the risk of pain; the risk of losing money or looking foolish. For your business to develop and grow you should make it as easy as possible for people to say ‘Yes’ to becoming a customer. Do this by taking away the financial, psychological or emotional risk factors.
Implement risk reversal strategies to lower a customer’s barrier to action. People regret it far more when they take action and receive negative results, than when they take no action at all. Combat this inaction by taking away the risks.
The more risk you eliminate the more pain you remove. This will result in an increased customer base. Risk reversal gives people a feeling of security and control and helps them decide to act immediately without fear or concern.
Type of effective risk reversal techniques:
- Return purchase without questions asked
- Money back guarantees
- Full and immediate return of purchase
- Define the minimum results a client can expect in a defined period of time
- Use customer testimonials to remove emotional risks
- Free trial period
Related: Seeing opportunity where others see risk
Grow your South African money by winning friends and influencing people
How to make people like you, by Dale Carnegie.
- Become genuinely interested in people. I’m not saying you should be a suck up, but people like to be admired. When you greet people with animation and enthusiasm you will win more customers.
- Smile. It’s not hard and it costs nothing. “You must have a good time meeting people if you expect them to have a good time meeting you”.
- Remember your clients’ namesand recall them easily.
- Be a good listener. Encourage potential clients to talk about themselves and ask questions they will enjoy answering.
- Talk about the other person’s interests.
- Make the prospect feel important and you’ll have a client for life.
How to win people over to your way of thinking, by Dale Carnegie.
- Avoid arguments.It’s true that the customer is always right. Even when he isn’t, why not let him save face? Don’t embarrass the man. You’ll catch more flies with honey.
- Show respectfor people’s opinions. Use a little diplomacy. Remember if you post it online, it’s public.
- Admit when you are wrong. Be transparent when trying to gain new clients. Be honest and truthful, they’ll respect you for it.
- Begin in a friendly way.
- Get the other person to say “Yes, Yes”immediately. Emphasise the things upon which you agree and get the prospect to say “yes”. With a second “yes”, there’s no backing out. People pride themselves on being consistent.
- Let the prospective customer do most of the talking.
- Let the client feel it’s their idea.When you make product and service suggestions to a customer, let him come to the conclusion himself.
- See things from the customer’s point of view. Become interested in the cause of their action and you can influence the results.
- Be sympathetic to a client’s ideas and desires.
- Believe the customer is being sincere and truthful.Always give him the benefit of the doubt.
- Dramatise your idea.The benefits your product produces needs to be made vivid, interesting and dramatic for maximum impact.
- Throw down a challenge.Stimulate a bit of competition to evoke their desire.
Even more ways to increase your number of clients
- Offer coupons and samples.
- Post YouTube videos demonstrating how your product works. Never sell without demonstration.
- Refresh your business image. Spruce up your logo and online profiles.
- Personalise user experience. Alter price and payment options to fit individual needs.
- Have human appeal. Be humble and don’t flatter yourself or your business, this harnesses resentment.
- Only give samples to people who have to take some form of action to acquire them.
Increasing your number of clients can be challenging, but the reward far outweighs the challenges. Implement above strategies and techniques to give you a boost over the competition. Remember to fall in love with clients, not your business or product/service.
Clients only care about what’s in it for them. Remove pain and demonstrate how your product can benefit their lives. Once they’ve become a committed customer ask for referrals.