Ten helpful ideas for finding and attracting new customers

Finding or winning new customers is a primary pain point for owners and managers of small businesses in NZ, according to our survey in 2017 of over 1,000 BizRewards members.

With this in mind, we’ve brought together:

  • Ten things to do to reach your ideal targets and make sure your business is a magnet for new customers; plus
  • links to other resources to check out if you want to delve deeper.

1. Get to know your ideal customers

You may of course have been through this process before you launched your business. But ask yourself, how much do you really know about your target customers (or current customers for that matter), including how your product or service can help them, and where they hang out in person and online?

At the risk of stating the obvious, the more you know the better.

Big businesses are constantly researching to get to know their current and potential customers as well as possible. Why? For one thing it enables these organisations to devise the most effective and efficient ways to find, engage, attract and win new customers.

It can do the same for you.

It’s a sizeable job, though, worth a few blogs in itself. Fortunately, the internet is awash with relevant advice to get you going. This article has a good overview, but search around and find the approach the works for you.

2. Build a strong online presence

Even if your business is entirely bricks and mortar, we strongly recommend you have a website. Among other benefits, it allows prospective customers to find you online. And with 92% of New Zealanders using the internet in some way to find local businesses, and over half using online sources to research products before buying, that’s a good thing.

This blog provides advice on how to maximise the opportunities Google offers in this area.

A website can also provide invaluable insights about visitors, which can help you increase your chances of turning them into customers. They can be affordable to set up, and there are a myriad of hosting platforms – such as WordPress – with template designs on offer, which help ensure your site looks professional and works well. This is important: you don’t want to repel visitors by having a poorly-designed site. This blog will help you to avoid this pitfall and other common website traps in which small businesses end up.

Building a strong online presence nowadays usually involves social media as well.

A successful Instagram or Facebook account can not only bring traffic to your website, it can also boost sales.

If you haven’t already, hone in on the social media platforms that are the best potential fit for your business and decide which of them you want your business on.

As outlined in this blog, for a small business, all that is required to succeed on social media is some time each month, a bit of imagination and a modest budget.

3. Make networking your modus operandi

Networking, in the social or physical world, is crucial to businesses of all sizes for a number of reasons.

Building productive relationships with potential customers, suppliers or partners represents time well spent, and can result in unforeseen business opportunities.

By identifying your target market (see above), you will have at least a rough idea of where your ideal customers congregate offline and online. This makes it easier to focus your (social) networking efforts on, for example, events that are most likely to produce business leads – ideal for a time-poor business person.

This article gives an excellent and thorough account of how to network effectively.

4. Follow up after engagements

Importantly, if you have a potential lead from an email, phone call, trade show or business meeting, then follow up while you are still fresh in people’s minds.

As soon as possible after the encounter, jot down a few notes about the person. Then send a short email that touches on something you discussed, and perhaps add more thoughts or help on the subject.

This blog has tonnes of useful advice on, and templates for, follow up emails.

5. Make compelling offers, on your terms

Whether it’s a free sample, competition, no-obligation quote or demo, loyalty card or discount voucher, sales promotions can be very effective tools to entice new customers.

When discounting, however, be sure you can still make a profit, or benefit in other ways. And be mindful that they can devalue your services if overdone. 

6. Partner with other organisations

In any industry there is plenty of scope for mutually beneficial partnerships between companies – especially those that share a complementary database.

For example, a cafe might partner with a real estate agent to offer free food or coffee to new clients as a welcome to their local area. The café gets exposure and the agent gets to offer something extra.

For an ideal fit, look for an organisation with a culture match and a good track record. All going well, as this article suggests, the outcome of such a partnership is growth, because over time you start to refer business back and forth on a regular basis.

7. Get involved in your local community

A business that can demonstrate it genuinely cares about, and is invested in, its local community will make a positive impression on existing and potential customers, not to mention its staff.

Sponsoring a local charity, sports team or school is a good start. In New Zealand, provincial sports teams especially are often the heart and soul of the community.

Another handy way to help out is providing a meeting space for community groups. As well as aiding the community, you’ll be able to develop a good relationship with the group, the members of which may be more likely to use your services and refer you to a friend.

8. Get new business from current customers

Yes, this blog is about new customers, but it’s generally easier and cheaper to get new business by selling to current customers, and they can be powerful endorsers of your business – so we’ve included them in our list.

What’s the best way to get repeat business and recommendations from current customers? Make sure their experience of your product or service is outstanding from start to finish.

This is obviously another big, important job, which requires many smaller tasks to succeed. The key task we want to emphasise here is focusing on customer service. This article has a good overview of the basics.

In addition, think about the sorts of things you could be doing to bring back customers time and time again. Is there an after-sales service or product that would encourage one-time customers to visit you more frequently?

9. Ask your customers for feedbacks

We’ve blogged about the value of asking customers what they think, using surveys. They are a sound way to gauge customers’ opinions and thoughts on how your business is operating. Such feedback is used by both large and small businesses to enhance and innovate, and fix problem areas.

Surveys also show that the business values its customers’ views, and is committed to continuous improvement. Ultimately, they can help make a business more attractive to prospects.

10. Don’t forget former customers

Finally, you might think that past customers are no longer interested in your business, so aren’t worth contacting as potential new customers. This is not necessarily true.

Sometimes, people just need a reminder of who you are and your previous connection.

So, if you have a customer database (and if you don’t have a customer database, build one), consider following up with former customers. Here are some good tips for re-engagement.