Building a customer base is obviously important for any business.
Whether your company manufactures a product, sells a service or operates in the B2B sector, having more customers coming in is how a business grows over time. The faster you can increase your customer base, the faster your company can grow and expand.
Unfortunately, growth can sometimes be expensive.
This is part of the reason that many small businesses remain small businesses. They simply don’t have the funds to put into expensive advertising campaigns and aren’t able to find other methods to fuel rapid business growth. This isn’t always a bad thing; there are many small businesses that develop a very loyal customer base that keeps them stable even if they aren’t expanding. If your company has aspirations of growth, however, then you need to find a way to get past this hurdle.
Fortunately, it is possible to keep customers coming in and fuel the growth that you want for your company without breaking the bank on paid advertising. You may need to learn a few new ways to market your company, but the effects will pay off in the long run.
Direct Response Marketing
One key to building a customer base without spending an inordinate amount of paid advertising is to learn the basics of direct response marketing.
Instead of using a mass-marketing strategy such as blanket advertising campaigns, direct response ads focus on more directed actionable contact with potential customers. This includes things like coupon mailers that are sent to past customers that you haven’t seen in a while or email campaigns that go out to those who opt in to your newsletter.
There are a number of advantages to using direct response marketing instead of the mass marketing techniques you’re used to. Not only is direct response marketing less expensive in a lot of cases, but it’s also trackable and features ways to measure the effectiveness of each ad.
You can personalize direct response ads to make them more compelling, and through the ad format you can provide a call to action that asks the recipient to do something specific. It doesn’t even have to be making a purchase; something as simple as visiting a website or filling out a form can be a great way to initiate contact with a potential customer.
Aligning with a Niche Market
As you learn more about direct response marketing and start crafting a campaign, think about the types of potential customers who are most likely to respond to your call to action.
Instead of focusing on a wide range of customers, target a specific niche within your potential customer base and build your direct marketing campaign around them. It may seem odd to target a smaller group of potential customers, but that small group could end up having a much higher response rate than you would receive from an ad targeted at a larger customer base.
It’s also worth noting that you aren’t limited to targeting only one niche. You can identify several different target groups within your market and develop campaigns centered around each of them. The cost for targeting multiple groups isn’t significantly higher than targeting a single one, just so long as each campaign has been tailored specifically to appeal to a single group. You should also have an internal method for tracking and identifying the separate campaigns to make it easier to see which tactics are effective and which are not.
Effective Lead Generation
Once you’ve identified niches to target, determine what the most effective way to generate leads within each niche would be.
For young tech-savvy customers, this could be connecting on social media or filling out online forms. For older customers, it could be filling out a response card or signing up for a monthly newsletter. Remember that you aren’t trying to rush the recipients into a sale, you’re simply trying to establish ongoing contact.
This stage is perhaps one of the biggest hurdles for a lot of small businesses. So often they are used to focusing on bringing in customers to buy right now and see ongoing connections as something useful for after the sale. Shifting this mindset is a key to ongoing growth, especially once the leads you create now start converting to customers.
The reason that leads are important is that you can follow up with them over time.
New product alerts, calls to check in, follower-only specials and other points of contact are a great way to bring in the leads that you’ve made previously and get them to finally commit to a sale. Even with the option to opt out, many leads will stay subscribed to newsletters and mailers provided that they don’t come too frequently. This ongoing connection provides you with a way in to keep providing marketing content and moving them closer to committing to the purchase.
Some leads will never convert to customers, but a significant number will. Some will convert right away, while others will take time. Regardless of the timeframe, however, make sure that you continue bringing in new leads and keep your lead nurturing strategies moving at a reasonable pace. This will ensure that there are always new contacts moving in and more conversions occurring over time.
Automation and Infrastructure
Perhaps the best part of this strategy is that there are significant parts of it that can be automated.
Automation and pipeline software can move leads through email and mailer campaigns without the need for you to be an active part of the infrastructure once the contact is made. While it should obviously be monitored and adjusted as needed, the use of automation can further reduce your cost while keeping your customers conversions coming in.