Expanding your Customer Base

“If your customer base is ageing with you, then eventually you are going to become obsolete or irrelevant. You need to be constantly figuring out who are your new customers and what are you doing to stay forever young.” – Jeff Bezos

Expanding the customer base is not something that only small businesses remain concerned with and constantly strive to achieve. A steady customer base that brings in money for a company would be one of the top priorities for any company. With the wide choice available to customers now, loyalty and customer retention are becoming seemingly insurmountable challenges and forces companies to weave, active expansion of their customer base, into their overall business strategy. The most important part of expanding your customer base is to keep the attention of existing customers and attract the attention of potential ones. The more ways a company can find to create and sustain relationships and contact, the higher the chances of expanding the current customer base. The other part with current customers is to keep them happy through great service, consistent value and product quality – happy customers become loyal and are very effective in attracting more business for a company thereby increasing the company’s customer base.

In an earlier exposition, we mentioned that prior to expanding your customer base, it is imperative for a company to do some groundwork – build a foundation so to speak, on which the company can place the process of engagement and attraction. It would be impossible for a company to reach out to an audience without truly understanding and knowing them. The more time and effort a company puts into ‘getting under the skin’ of the target audience, the easier it would become to attract their attention. For example – if a company were to know that a customer just landed a new job in a new location, the company could send the customer information regarding the area, places to visit, eat, shop and the nearest locations of the company’s office / store or both.  In addition, getting to know more about a target customer would include understanding their reasons to buy, who they currently buy from, what extra can your company provide to them, what would be the most important reason for them to switch to your brand and other such aspects. Getting the answers to these would enable a company to target the right customers with the most appropriate offerings and incentives.

Expanding a company’s customer base requires a proactive approach. Companies must keep abreast with the current happenings and events and ensure representation wherever appropriate. Networking in such events is a great way to meet new people, understand the challenges and best practices of other companies, gain insights from market leaders, discover untapped markets and audiences – the possibility of expanding your customer base is tremendous through such networking events.

There is a large management consultant company, which employs a person with the sole purpose of conducting research – within the industry and the industries of their existing and prospective clients. The findings from the research allow the company to consistently meet and often exceed the customized requirements of their current clients. In addition, such research and insights allows a company to source new clients based on the latest trends and market expectations thereby increasing the chances of expanding the customer base.

There is always strength in numbers. The more individuals or organizations that you can rally to your cause, the better.” – Mark Shields. This is another way to be known not just within your industry circles but out of it as well. Staying connected allows opportunities to unfold, which your company may not even be aware of and these would give access to a larger customer base waiting to be served. In addition, the more connections your company can make, the stronger it would become, gaining a competitive edge in a ‘noisy marketplace’. In addition, your company could discover its strength in areas outside of its current operations. It is always beneficial to earn a reputation of being a subject matter expert in more than one area. Such effort displays a company’s ability to be focused on the interest of its customers, flexible, innovative, creative and willing to do ‘that much extra’ in order to serve customers more effectively. Customers prefer to associate with companies that have the ability to help them beyond the business relationship – a great way to retain existing customers and expand the customer base.

The power of social media is not hidden any longer – with a single comment / post / discussion – a company has the ability to reach a very large number of people. This audience includes current customers and a much larger potential customer base. Sharing valuable insights, meaningful content and information via social media, is a highly potent method of getting the attention of many and increasing the possibility of expanding your customer base. With an increased customer base, companies also gain the attention of investors, great talent and other stakeholders willing to associate with the company long-term.

Freebies and discounts – who does not love them? Offering such incentives and benefits prove to be highly effective in enticing ‘curious prospects’. When they do come to your company, it would be easier to convince them to become part of the current happy customer base and continue to enjoy the benefits the customers receive. Train your employees in skills of negotiation and persuasion – the more convincing they sound, the better the chances of expanding your customer base.

It would be tedious to repeat that existing customers who are happy with a company are the most powerful partners and walking advertisements for a company – but it is true. Delighted customers would be happy to let others know of their experiences and would provide great referrals and testimonials thereby dissipating most of the doubt and apprehensions for potential customers. This is in turn increases the chances of expanding your customer base since they would already know a lot about your company and would be more convinced of the benefits from associating since they heard ‘good things’ from existing customers. The power of existing happy customers must not be underestimated and companies that harness this influence not only further cement their relationships but also are effectively able to expand their customer base.

Content is king – which means that it would be effective, when used well, for any purpose and aim of a company. Many companies now offer engaging and useful content via their website and social media sites in the form of blogs, articles, interactive videos and other such forms of content. Both existing and potential customers would have access to this content and if it proves useful for them in any way, they are more likely to want to engage with a company. In addition, a company’s leadership should use every opportunity they get to speak at events, conferences and other such gatherings thereby gaining positive attention for their company through the display of their knowledge and expertise. Great content builds confidence and trust in the minds of people – current customers stay on and potential customers become eager to be part of the company’s customer base.

Anyone in business would know that even the best products and offerings could not hold and attract customers unless they are complemented by excellent customer service. This should be non-negotiable in any company if it is to gain a sound reputation of caring for its customers. Expanding your customer base can be relatively easy or extremely hard – it all depends on a company’s approach and mind-set. What about your company – find it hard or easy to expand your customer base?

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