Four key ways to grow your business

Win new customers and improve what you offer to your current customers.

Growing a successful business is not only about winning new customers – it's also about improving what you offer to your current customers. Here are four key ways to grow your business.

Increase your number of prospective new customers

There are many ways to increase your prospective new customers, including:

  • Referrals – ask your current clients and suppliers to refer friends, relatives, colleagues, and acquaintances. Offer incentives, such as discounts for successful referrals. Word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool and tends to be much more successful than other methods. And it’s free!
  • Advertising – this doesn’t have to be expensive. For example, you can place a free advertisement on a website (like Craigslist) or advertise cheaply in your local newspaper.
  • Free samples – hand these out in places that your target customers are likely to visit. If you also offer free samples on the Internet, you can build a database of contact details that can be utilized in future marketing campaigns.
  • Trade shows – hiring a stand at a trade show can yield a good return on investment, but simply attending the show and talking to as many potential clients as possible can be just as effective.
  • Social media – get to know people in your target market and gain an insight into their wants and needs – and their likes and dislikes.

Increase your conversion rate of potential new customers

Once you’ve identified your potential new customers, it's time to encourage them to become actual customers. Some ways of maximizing your conversion rate include:

  • Offering guarantees, such as money-back guarantees or product exchange guarantees.
  • Giving discounts or deals on new customers’ first purchases.
  • Offering bonus items at no extra cost. These should be items that wouldn't cost your business very much yet are of value to potential customers.
  • Organizing and promoting an open day where people can try your products or services for free. Include a special deal for people who buy or subscribe at the open day.
  • Collecting the email addresses of potential new customers and starting an interesting and informative online newsletter or blog – thus engaging their attention on a regular basis.

Most prospective new customers don’t become customers immediately. On average, potential new customers come into contact with a business 7-8 times before they buy, according to the Bridge Group, a sales consulting company.

It’s therefore important to follow up regularly – and include new, time-limited offers.

Increase customer spend per visit

There are several ways to increase the amount each customer spends on each visit. Decide which of these methods are most suitable for your business to implement.

Cross-selling

Introduce additional products or services that are related to your core range. For example, if you own a clothing store, you could add belts, bags, hats, and other accessories. Ask customers if there are any other items they'd like to see on sale.

Get to know your customers well and recommend products that an individual customer is likely to be interested in.

Up-selling

The key to up-selling is to add value for your customers. For example, you could explain the features and benefits of a better quality product in order to encourage a customer to buy it instead of a less expensive alternative.

Back-end sales

Back-end sales are additional purchases that are related to an initial purchase. So, for example, if someone buys a printer from you, the back-end sales can include ink cartridges, toner, and paper – as well as servicing and repairs. Include as many back-end sales as you can.

Increase your annual number of transactions per customer

There are some strategies you can use to encourage customers to visit your business more often, to get them to spend more money over the course of a year.

Loyalty programs

Loyalty programs reward customers for regular visits. For example, coffee shop loyalty programs often give a free drink after a certain number of purchases. All types of businesses can invent a loyalty program.

Setting up a loyalty program isn’t difficult or expensive, but it can increase customer satisfaction and lead to higher sales.

Continuity programs

Under a continuity program, customers receive and pay for products or services at regular intervals until they cancel.

Customers who need a regular supply of items like diapers or pharmaceuticals would be most likely to join continuity programs, however they can also be applied to other areas if you think creatively.

Special events

Organize at least one special event each year and invite all your customers. For example, you could hold a VIP customer evening with free drinks and snacks, and a discount on everything in your store.

Increasing your customer base and raising the average amount spent by each customer are the main keys that unlock business growth.

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