Marketing Center

Five ways to attract new customers

A mix of tried-and-true methods and new technology can help small business owners expand their clientele.

Published: July 16, 2014
Updated: July 19, 2017

To stay on top, business owners need to reach new prospects while keeping current customers happy. As the marketing and advertising landscape continually evolves, there are many options for small business owners to capitalize on current trends and reach the previously unreached.

Here are five opportunities that take advantage of both traditional methods and digital strategies.

1. Digital marketing

Most consumers search for local businesses online, and often read reviews in the process. In 2016, 91% of consumers said they read online reviews, up from 85% in 2013, according to BrightLocal.

So, one of the first things business owners should do is update and claim local pages, says Ken Wisnefski, founder and CEO of WebiMax, a digital marketing agency. That means going on Yelp, Google local listings, and similar sites to make sure information like store hours, location, and phone numbers is accurate.

Wisnefski also recommends investing in a mobile-friendly website, developing an email marketing campaign, and creating social media profiles that can help engage the audience frequently. "All these things are opportunities to get visibility, and none of them come at a huge cost," Wisnefski says.

2. Content marketing

Not only does content marketing cost 62% less than traditional marketing, according to the marketing firm Demand Metric, it generates approximately three times as many leads as traditional marketing.

Content marketing boils down to creating and providing information to current and potential customers. Whether shared via podcasts or videos, it highlights a business's knowledge in a given field and can instill trust from consumers.

Getting started can be as simple as starting a blog with articles on industry-related how-to's and guides, and creating an editorial calendar to publish content regularly.

3. Partnerships

To reach a previously untapped market, consider pairing up with a local business or social media influencer and offering a promotion to their customers.

If you’re planning to work for another business, partner with one that has a narrowly defined target demographic that you want to reach. Host an event, or provide an appealing offer like a free service, product, or discounted item. The business will be more inclined to pair up if the offer is a nice reward for existing customers.

When it comes to working with social media influencers, it’s important to outline the terms of the relationship and what is expected. The influencer may require monetary compensation, but some are also willing to offer their social clout in exchange for products and services.

Be sure to have a plan of action to get new customers coming back again after this initial event or promotion.

4. Customer satisfaction

"[Businesses] have to very specifically identify the customer's needs and what success is going to look like for that customer," says Barry Maher, a business consultant, speaker, and author. Maher highlights a refrigerator purchase as an example. "The salesperson came up to me with a notepad, and he must have asked me 10 different questions about what I specifically needed in that refrigerator," Maher says. They were things Maher never thought of: How often do you grocery shop? How close is the store? When he was done with the rep, Maher felt he was going to have the exact product he wanted.

Because of this experience, Maher would not only recommend going to that store, but he'd recommend that specific salesperson. There's no marketing anywhere as powerful as a satisfied customer, Maher says. Additionally, satisfied customers can help your business find new customers through word-of-mouth referrals.

5. Long-standing customers

Once your service is providing the sort of quality that Maher outlines above, don't be afraid to ask your loyal customers for referrals. While it might be uncomfortable to ask, this can go a long way in building your business. Think about setting a daily referral goal, incentivizing referrals, or just being straightforward by building the request into your normal service routine after thanking customers for their purchase.