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Know your customer, network and research your industry – Strategies for business owners to expand their customer base

Know your customer, network and research your industry – Strategies for business owners to expand their customer base

By Gerschwyne van Wyk, Country Manager at Business Partners International.

Attracting new customers while nurturing your regulars can often seem like a delicate balancing act. The truth of the matter, however, is that there are some tried-and-tested methods for growing your customer base without the risk of losing your business’ bread and butter.

Customers are one of the determining factors for how long a business will last. It is crucial for business owners to always be on the lookout for ways of attracting new customers or clients.

Here are six strategies for business owners to expand their customer base.

1. Know your customers.

First, it is important for business owners to ask themselves: Who is my ideal customer? What makes them tick? What can the business provide that will make their lives better or more efficient? Defining the answers to these questions will help business owners target the specific clientele that they are best positioned to service.

2. Network on all relevant platforms.

Business owners should be networking at every opportunity, whether they attend trade shows, go to business functions, or join a local chamber of commerce; they should always have their business cards on them and their elevator pitch should be well-rehearsed and ready for any potential customers. Socialising at industry and non-industry events is a great way to pitch a business to new people. With the advancement in technology ushering in social networking platforms, business owners’ should take advantage of all relevant opportunities available. If a business is looking to expand its reach, it should get online and engage with customers.

3. Offer incentives.

It’s no secret that people love freebies and discounts, so business owners should use this tactic to get new customers in the door. If your business operates in the service industry, offer an introductory free class or consultation, allowing potential customers to test-drive your services.

4. Trust in the power of word-of-mouth.

The best customers are those who have been referred through an existing customer. This means that customer service should always be outstanding in order to make a great impression that generates conversation. There’s nothing like word-of-mouth marketing and business owners can make the most of their loyal customers by making them ambassadors for their business. This can be done by providing incentives for referrals, or by offering special discount codes for sharing the business’ promotional material with their friends and associates.

5. Research your industry.

In order to be build a customer base, it is important to be viewed as an industry leader. This means keeping on top of the latest trends and upcoming innovations, in order to stay apace with the industry movers and shakers. This will help business owners pitch confidently to prospective new customers, who want to know they are in good hands.

6. Showcase your expertise.

Whether it is starting a blog that discusses relevant topics in your area of business, or participating as a featured speaker at industry conferences, showcasing your expertise and educating people about your product or service is a great way to build up your credibility, and expand your customer base in the process.

It is vital for business owners to continuously seek innovative ways to increase their customer base for their business to survive and thrive.

Business Partners International is a specialist risk finance company for formal small and medium owner-managed businesses in Namibia, and selected African countries. The company actively supports entrepreneurial growth by providing financing from US$50,000 to US$1 million in local currency.

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