For most businesses, one of their biggest challenges is reaching their customers. This involves carefully reaching out to your target audience and building a loyal customer base and community around your product or service. But what if you’ve already seen some success in your intended market and are now looking to grow? Growth requires a significant focus on expanding your existing customer base. This is easier said than done, however, so consider these four tricks for doing so.
Tap into Different Demographics
The first trick you can try to expand your customer base is to look beyond your target demographic. For example, have you noticed if there is a small following of your product among a completely different demographic than you had originally intended? A massively successful example of this is the Hasbro property My Little Pony. While its target audience is young girls, the property has also attracted a lot of older male fans, to the point where most of the money coming in from the franchise is from the older male fanbase. Sometimes new customers exist where you least expect them, and sometimes you might even find that your products are best suited to an entirely different demographic than you had originally envisioned. Definitely, cater to these different demographics some more, even if only a little, and see what happens.
Of course, the only way to do this effectively is to start by gathering data on the demographics of your current customer base. If this is not something you are already doing then you should make that the first item on your to-do list. Gathering customer demographics typically isn’t too much work, especially in today’s digital era. Attaching a few questions or a short survey at the end of an online transaction will generate a lot of information. If you have a customer loyalty program or online accounts available, you can also include a question about demographic information in the sign-up process for those programs. Once you have gathered the data, take a look at who your current customers are to help you get an idea of who else you could advertise too. You might be surprised by the data, or it might be exactly what you expect, but you’ll never know if you don’t investigate.
Use Different Media
Some people prefer to read, some like looking at pictures and others mostly watch videos. If your company only shares photos on its social media accounts, for example, you’re missing out on people who respond to information in different ways. Using video media, in particular, has grown in popularity recently and often gets higher responses on social media platforms. Also, consider signing up for other social media platforms. If you only have Facebook, for example, you’re missing out on the people who primarily use Twitter. Some companies have entire video series up on sites like Vimeo, which opens them up to a whole new customer base. Do research on what social media sites the customers you are targeting primarily use and utilize those sites if you are not already. If you already operate accounts on those sites, look into how you can better utilize them to appeal to new audiences.
While digital media is one of the most effective ways to advertise today, it’s definitely not the only way. Depending on which demographics you have decided to target, you may decide that some physical advertisements might be effective as well. If want your advertisements to reach an older demographic, for example, placing advertisements in newspapers could be a worthwhile venue to consider. Billboards are another advertising option that should never be ignored since over 139 million Americans commute to work every day. Getting your name on a billboard can immediately expose you to a significant amount of potential customers who may never have otherwise visited your site. Finally, there are niche magazines to think about. There are a large variety of reputable magazines and journals published in a variety of industries. If your target audience is industry professionals, you may want to seriously consider utilizing this resource. In many instances these magazines also have websites, so your digital ads may end up in both places on their own.
Expand into Different Areas
This can be thought of in two different ways: physically and ideologically. You can expand into a new area physically by opening a new business location or expanding your service area to include new cities, states, or even countries. You can also expand into different areas ideologically by launching a new line of products or services to your existing clientele. While either of these moves can be extremely effective for acquiring new customers, they both need to be undertaken with the utmost caution.
Expanding your business into new physical areas comes with associated costs and logistical issues. If you are planning to open a new location in addition to your current office space you need to be certain in advance that you have the capital available to lease new space, stock it with new products, hire new employees, and purchase any relevant new equipment. It’s a very expensive endeavor, and even if you have all of that covered it can still fail. It is incredibly important to do your research into different areas, what sort of competition you would have, how many potential customers there are, local demographics, political views, and maybe even traffic patterns. If you don’t have experience in business analytics yourself, it would definitely be worthwhile to invest in a consultant to help you choose where to open your new location. Expanding your service area without opening new locations is also possible, but your scope may still be limited by the size of your operation and the number of people living in your area.
Moving into a different line of products or services can end up stretching your resources too thin. Ultimately, if the new line doesn’t take on or customers don’t enjoy it as much as you thought they would, it might even fail and prove to be a very costly venture. You should perform extensive market research and survey your customers before beginning development and production of a new line. Hiring a consultant can also be a good idea before embarking on this type of venture. Make sure any new product or service you are planning to launch is a logical extension of what your company already offers and adheres to your business’s brand and mission. Offering something new will almost always generate excitement and bring in new customers, so it’s definitely worth thinking about.
Partner with Other Businesses
Creating a partnership with another business can bring about a mutually beneficial relationship. Your company will then have the ability to reach the other company’s customers and provide them complementary services the other company does not. The other company can then provide for your customers in the same way. Creating a crossover audience will obviously expand your own customer base, as well as offer additional services to your existing customers. Do some research into other companies that might make good partners and approach them with your proposal once you come up with a good collaborative idea.
Many small business owners may be leery of partnering with large business, thinking they will be losing their individuality or risking being consumed by the larger organization. A business partnership, however, is not necessarily the same as becoming part of a larger organization. Many companies will partner with business in a slightly different niche in order to better meet their customer’s needs. For example, a company who offers custom designed clothing articles might own the equipment necessary to screen print and fabricate clothing items but have no experienced designers on their team. This company could form a partnership in order to gain access to an online design tool their customers could use when purchasing goods through their website. In exchange for this service, they may agree to take orders from the design firms customers who wish to have their designs brought to life on clothing..... Symbiotic relationships that will allow companies to grow and progressClick To Tweet
Business partnerships like this are typically symbiotic relationships that will allow both companies to grow and progress. If the relationship works well in the long term, it might make more sense to merge the two businesses into one than to continue to operate as two independents. If any partner decides they want to consider a merger or a buyout of your company, you will be given the opportunity to consider the pros and cons before being locked into that agreement.
Trying something different can sometimes be a flop, but other times it can succeed beyond your wildest imagination. But the fact of the matter is that if you want to expand your existing customer base, you’re going to have to do something different, whether it’s something as simple as being more active on social media or something as major as partnering with another business. There are many different ways to reach customers, but definitely, consider or try the four tricks mentioned above and see if they work for you.
Kara Masterson is a freelance writer from West Jordan, Utah. She graduated from the University of Utah and enjoys writing and spending time with her dog, Max. Kara also writes business articles for ACN Inc., a global provider of phone, television, and internet.