New Year, New Customers – 10 easy steps to getting noticed
At New Year, conversations often revolve around what resolutions and changes to our lifestyle we’re going to make. By now, like my diet, many of these plans are forgotten about – but what about resolutions for your business?
Early in the year is a good time to start planning how you might attract customers and repeat custom to your business.
1) Put yourself on the map.
When I type ‘electrician’ into Google, the first result that comes up is my friend who lives down the road. Google works out from your IP address and previous web searches where you are and gives results that’s as close to you as possible.
It’s easy to get your business details on Google, you just need to create a profile, add some information about your business, a photograph, possibly of the front of the shop, or inside showing off those rows of guitars in your lovely independent music shop – don’t forget opening times and contact details. You’ll also be able to highlight your location on the map. Now anyone with a smart phone looking for you can find you easily.
2) Point in the right direction.
Good signage gets you noticed and helps customers find their way to you. It’s always best to check with your local council for their policy on putting signs up, especially on lamp posts. You could also consider an A board or even an enthusiastic and friendly employee to stand near by holding a sign and handing out flyers!
3) Share customer testimonials
Testimonials offer an unbiased indication about your goods or services and can help reassure new customers, as well as distinguishing you from your competitors. Send out an email after a purchase to generate feedback and share the best ones on your website, mailers or brochures.
4) Direct action
It doesn’t matter if it’s yourself or a valued staff member – handing flyers out on the street is a great way to let people know you’re there, be prepared to give a mini introduction to the business when asked!
It’s worth considering a leaflet exchange with other local businesses, in return for them having a small stack of your leaflets on their counter, you have some of theirs on yours.
Make sure your design is eye-catching but clearly shows your location, contact information and opening hours. It’s worth considering an incentive such as 10% saving with a flyer.
Don’t discount posting flyers through letterboxes. It’s a common misconception that people are sick of receiving ‘junk mail’ This may be true of plain white envelopes addressed to “The occupier” but as many as 76% of people who receive a leaflet through their letterbox either keep it, pass it along to a friend or at least read it.
If you’re not sure what to put on your leaflets, have a look at our guide from last year
5) Encourage and reward loyalty
Loyalty card schemes are easy to implement and popular with customers. Once you’ve got a customer through your door a loyalty scheme will encourage them to return. A cost effective print option the size of a business card (we recommend our 300gsm uncoated card), loyalty cards can be created for anything from a free 10th coffee (as per many coffee chains) to £5 off a purchase. How you want to use them and what you offer is up to you and the nature of your business.
6) Give your business a make over
Is the front of your shop looking a little tired and mucky? It’s part of being on the high street, lots of people walking past, buses and cars queuing outside or driving past stirring up dust and muck. Your shop front could benefit from just a good scrub or a re-paint, perhaps some new signs or simply changing the window display. You could consider a change of brand colours if you wanted. Take pride in what you sell and customers can see the potential.
7) Get involved in the community
Many towns have a business forum where business owners meet, often with the council involved, to discuss what can be done to draw customers to the area, it’s also a great place to speak with other business owners, share ideas, offer your services to them in exchange for their services. It’s not all ‘dog eat dog’ there’s often quite a community spirit between small business owners.
You could look into sponsoring a local under 12s sports team as a great way of getting noticed in the local area, especially if your business is something the players would be interested in.
8) Host an open day
If you’ve just introduced a new product line or stocking a new brand, make some noise about it. Have an open day where people can come and see for themselves and find out more about your business. Send invites out to regular customers and important people in the local community and have some special one day only offers and samples.
9) Show off your expertise
If your business offers skilled services you could seek out opportunities to use your knowledge to help others. Offer yourself to local papers / radio to answer reader / listener’s questions or write a tips section giving advice in return for the feature “brought to you by…” publishing your business name and contact details. It’s a great chance to establish yourself as the local knowledge in your specialism while also finding new customers.
10) Smile and say hello
Even if you’re outside the shop sweeping away the chewing gum wrappers and cigarette ends, if someone’s walking past, look up, smile and say ‘hello’ if nothing else it’ll make them look towards your shop and hopefully notice something that causes them to pop in and see what you’ve got, even better if you’re wearing something that links you to your business, you’ll get known as a friendly business and attract people to your shop.
All the best for 2015