How visible are you to potential customers? To maintain a stable and healthy business, you may need to boost your visibility to attract customers—and hopefully a steady stream of customers at that. Banking on a small number of existing customers may make your business vulnerable.
Here are nine ideas that may help you attract customers and capture the attention of potential customers.
Make It Easy for People to Find You Online
These days a customer's journey to your company may start online. More and more potential clients do some research online before dealing with a business. So, if someone searches your company on Google or Bing, will your company be visible? A recent global survey reveals that small businesses aren't fully plugged into the Internet. A surprising 59 percent of small businesses don't have a website. If you're not found online, you could be missing out on many opportunities to attract customers.
A website may help give you an online identity and may help your small business become a recognizable brand. This may help build trust, and trust goes a long way in helping to engender business. In addition to building a website, you can also consider listing your business, for free, on sites such as Citysearch and Google My Business. Think of the Internet as your Yellow Page listing.
Pay Attention to SEO Matters to Attract Customers
If you do a search of your products or services, do you show up on the first page of search results? If not, you may be failing to capture customers who might click on the competition instead. To increase your chances that your page ranks higher up in searches, consider using search engine optimization (SEO) tactics for your website. SEO involves a series of steps that may help improve the chances of your site appearing in search results for specific terms related to your offerings. For example, if you're a florist in Illinois, you might optimize the site for search terms such as "florist in Chicago" or "Chicago florists."
It may be worth it to work with a professional web developer to SEO your website in order to help boost your website's placement in search engine rankings. This may help you get noticed by more people who want your products or services because they're already searching for them. The free Website Grader tool from Hubspot lets you see how your current site is performing, and offers suggestions on what needs to be fixed.
Establish a Presence on Social Media
According to a recent LinkedIn survey of almost 1,000 small- and mid-sized businesses in North America, three in five of those surveyed say that using social media helps gain new customers. Ignoring social media for business may no longer be an option. If you don't have a presence on social media, consider establishing a profile on the major social media sites.
Connecting and engaging with people may help you maximize your presence on these sites. One way to do this is by sharing your personal insights, knowledge and expertise. Sharing what you may have read, pertinent news items related to your industry or articles or blog entries others have posted may be helpful as well. Showing that you're up-to-speed in your area of expertise by following developments in your field and sharing items of interest to your target customers may help you attract customers and clients. You may also want to respond to others' social media comments or participate in discussions in the LinkedIn groups related to your business. This need not be very time-consuming. You can devote a small part of your week to building your reputation and promoting your brand online.
Today, building a reputation and nurturing relationships the traditional way—offline—may not be enough to attract the largest number of customers that you want. Growing relationships online may connect you to a larger group of potential customers, both domestic and international. As Bill Gates put it, "the Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow."
Nurture Your Online Presence
Building up your online presence may require regular monitoring. It may be beneficial to periodically evaluate your online footprint to see what impression people have of your business. Do you need to make any changes? There are many tools to see what's being said about you. Regularly doing a Google search of your name or your company name may be helpful. Click on "Search Tools" where you can filter the search results by date (e.g. "Past hour," "Past 24 hours," "Past week" and other options).
You can also set up Google Alerts or Bing Alerts—or type in your company's name on Social Mention—to see what's being said about you.
Create Consistency in All of Your Online Introductions
Your social media profile description may be considered the window of your digital storefront. Making sure it's attractive, inviting and consistent throughout all of your social media profiles may help attract customers, as it can be a reflection of your business. Including keywords that potential customers would likely use when searching for the products and services that you offer may also help attract customers to your business rather than distance them from it. A sloppy and uninspired front piece may cast doubt on what's behind it. This is a part of building trust for customers who are getting to know you. Consistency implies reliability and safety.
Write Compelling Blog Posts
One of the most effective ways to attract potential customers to your website is through blogging. Carefully choosing content that would interest your target customer and add value may help attract customers and build your brand up as an industry standard bearer. Turning your blog into a practical and insightful "browse and learn" experience may have potential customers coming back regularly. In need of some inspiration? Consider checking out your competitors' blogs to gain inspiration on what to blog about, or explore the best blogging sites for your industry or business area.
If you don't have the time, or the inclination, for blogging, it might be worth your while to outsource this function to one of the many blogging services available.
Keep Your Ear to the Ground
As you work to increase your customer base, it pays to look around and see how your competitors are marketing their business. For example, if you're a real estate agent, do you see your competitor's face on buses driving by or on benches at bus stops? Familiarity helps breed trust. If your potential customers see your competitor's face as they commute to work day in and day out, they may choose "the face they trust" simply because that face appears on their radar.
Are your competitors taking ads on Facebook? Are they regularly publishing on LinkedIn Pulse? Are they delivering free webinars for potential customers? Keeping up with the Joneses when it comes to marketing your products and services may level the playing field. If your competitors consistently engage in a set of marketing initiatives, it may be an indication that the initiatives are paying off. Why not benefit from their market research?
Team Up With a Related Local Business
Partnering with a related business can sometimes be a win-win strategy. In a mutual agreement, both partners may be able to benefit from a ready-made clientele. For example, if you're a hair-salon owner, you can partner with a spa owner in your area and vice versa. If you operate a dog kennel, you can partner with a dog-grooming business. If you're a specialty wine store, you can partner with a specialty cheese store. The possibilities are endless, and may help you both attract customers to your respective businesses.
Quality, Quality, Quality
Ultimately, if you're serious about attracting customers to grow your business, it helps to pay attention to the quality of your product and services. Giving customers a quality experience may help you generate two outcomes: repeat customers and customer referrals. Both are indispensable avenues for growing your business.
As the research shows, repeat customers spend 67 percent more than new customers. So retaining customers is a form of customer acquisition. And customer referrals may be one of the most cost-effective and optimal sources for attracting new customers.
What strategies do you use to attract customers?
Read more articles on finding new customers.