Opportunity Knocks

Growing your business requires an ongoing effort to bring new customers to your door.

There are many different ways to attain the goal of getting more customers into your business. The whole point of getting more customers through your doors is to increase revenue not spend all of your money trying to get them in. It is easy to get caught up in spending money on practices you assume deserve the money, but you must prioritize where to spend your money. Put yourself in a potential customer’s shoes. Where are they coming from, what type of media are they using, do they browse or come for a specific item? Try to figure out the type of people your current customers are because you will want to tailor your efforts to fit their preferences. For example, you notice that students from the local college are your most frequent shoppers. Contact the local school and ask to put advertisements or coupons in their student newspaper or discount booklets.

Curb Appeal

This is one of the most cost expensive changes you could potentially make. When a person who has never been to your business walks by, what do they see? You want your signs and windows to be readable. Have your windows professionally lettered or have the letters updated. Upper and lowercase letters are easier to read than all bold, block letters are a good statement, and yellow, white, and black are colors that you can see from the farthest. Your business needs to look safe and inviting. If it is possible, keep your door open. It will make your business more approachable. Your lights should be on and there should not be clutter by the door. A potential customer will not come into your store if they do not think it is open or seems at all dangerous. You also want to be sure your business is accessible to the public. If you have a parking lot, make sure it is not damaged but in good repair. Parking spots should be available to customers, preferably close to your store. The best would be to have reserved parking spots in front of your store for customers to use. If you are not near any parking you need to let the public know where the nearest parking is. Have a sign on your door stating your business hours and the phone number because you do not want to lose a customer based on bad timing.

Your New and Improved Business

If you decide to give your business a makeover, it will provide you with a great opportunity to have a grand re-opening event. Even if you have changed the inside or outside of your business slightly, new customers will never have known what it looked like before. This is newsworthy so be sure to get in contact with local press to introduce the new face of your business. Take it one step further and invite someone from the press to come to your event. You don’t have to bring the whole crew of newscasters but inviting one reporter will give you a good chance of being in the news.

Build a Web Page

According to Miniwatts Marketing Group, 68.6% of the U.S. population is using the Internet. It is important that you have Web visibility so that people can find you whether they wanted to or were just searching in your industry. It will be easy for you to manage comments, questions and concerns of current customers. This will enable you to address issues that, if fixed, could possibly help bring in new customers. The upkeep of a web page may be a bit time consuming but there is always the option to just have the business’ contact information. This provides online shoppers/researchers the information they need in order to come to your store and acknowledge you are there.

Build Credibility

The Internet is a great source to show potential customers the great reviews you receive from your current shoppers. Testimonials, an ‘About Us’ page, and reviews all help consumers to decide where they are going to purchase an item. Thirty-four percent of consumers shop online before they ever step foot into a store. Make sure that the information about your business on the Internet is correct and shows your business in a positive light. A website will give you the opportunity to distinguish your business as an expert in your industry by providing informative articles and detailed product/service descriptions. Helping online customers will give them confidence in your business and they will be more likely to buy from you.

Direct People to Your Store

For people who are not finding your business through the Web, friend, or by word-of-mouth, you can advertise throughout your community. Put up signs to point potential customers to your business from busy places around town. Make easy-to-read maps of where your business is located. Have them available in your store, in neighboring stores and online. Also, if you have a community visitor center or town hall, find out if you can have maps or fliers available for guests.

Put Yourself Out There

Be visible! If people are not coming to your business get out into your community to promote yourself. Make fliers to hand out on a busy street. The fliers can have an upcoming sale, current sale, or a new product/service. Be vocal, showing your passion for your business and everything it offers. Do not hassle people if they are not interested, you want to keep your reputation intact, and chasing people down the street is not the way to do this. The best way to get people in your store is to invite them.

Partner With Other Businesses

Ask neighboring businesses, non-competitors, to partner with you in order to help each other. All partnering companies can have each others fliers available or even mention to customers to visit certain stores. Your business will do the same for them, which will create a bond and with that you will be stronger than standing alone. If a customer comes into your store and buys something, tell them to check out ‘Sandy’s Sandwich Shop.’ They already like something you offer so they will respect your opinion on where to go next. The customers that you have will venture out to your partner businesses and vice versa. This also builds credibility, so partner with businesses that you want to be linked to. Partnering businesses reflect each other, therefore it is important to partner with businesses you believe in.

Free Samples

Whether a person is interested in your product or not, consumers WILL take anything free, especially food. A sample may lead to a purchase and hopefully a repeat customer. A friendly stand outside of your store will attract all sorts of people. When you add in the free sample aspect you will drive business to you and then into your business for more. Make sure that there is a happy face providing the free sample, you want the stand to be as approachable as possible.

Occasion For Everything

All sorts of occasions can be turned into an event. Consider having certain items that can be discounted for a day, set up a sales stand outside of your business with the discounted items. There are a lot of businesses that have been around for many years. If your business has been around a long time, a product that you’ve been selling for years provides an opportunity for a sale. One day a year you can have a special that allows customers to purchase that item for what it cost when you first opened your doors. Ask your employees what they think could be turned into an event to increase excitement and creativity. You don’t have to go all out spending lots of money, a simple sign and sale will attract more customers than you think.

Host an Event

Embrace your community as a chance to bring in new customers. Contact your local chamber of commerce or city hall and express that you are interested in hosting their next event. As long as you have enough space, it will be beneficial to host local community and business owners. If they were not aware of your business before, they will make an effort to start shopping there. If they are a current customer, it is an opportunity to show them your support for the community which they will share with others. Another option would be to somehow get in contact with a local celebrity, such as an author or sports figure—having him or her in the store can bring in clientele.

Reach Out to Organizations

Many organizations, like the Girl Scouts, have their own events or sales goals and are always looking for locations. Reach out to different organizations and let them know they are welcome at your business. You will help them by providing a location and extra business from your current customers; your business will benefit from the organization’s customers that will check out your business when they come to see the organization. Also, give special discounts to your choice of organizations. Whether it’s a soccer team, or college students, you will have customers who begin to shop there just so they can receive a discount.

Lock in Loyalty

Develop a program in which recurring customers can be rewarded. You can create a rewards card that may recognize a customers fifth purchase so they can receive a discount. Giving a little back will go a long way with your loyal customers and it will also show new customers the benefits of shopping with you.

If you put in the time and effort as a small business owner to find new customers, you will reap the rewards. There are plenty of effective ways to get customers into your store so take advantage of as many as you can and keep that door swinging open.

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