These days, more and more consumers are relying on their friends and family members – rather than traditional advertising – to help them decide where to spend their hard-earned money. In fact, Microsoft.com notes that on one survey, 72% of people check out online chat boards about a company’s reputation before buying its products, and 81% think that discussion boards are a good way to help find the best products and companies.
The fact is that if you already have loyal customers for your business, there will be more positive information on those chat and discussion boards, which can bring in new customers. But if you really want to leverage loyal customers to bring in new ones, here are four specific ways to make it happen:
The first step to gaining more customers is to figure out who your current customers are. Examining your loyal customers can help you target your audience even better. If you’ve already got a good business plan, chances are good that you’ve got a target demographic in mind. But as your business evolves, your target demographic should evolve, as well. Now, instead of just doing research and trying to guess who will most love your products and services, you’ve got real information to go off of in the form of your current loyal customers.
If you haven’t examined the demographic of people who are buying into your business in a few months or even years, it’s time to re-examine your target audience. Look at your loyal customer base to see what members have in common, and then begin tailoring your advertising and outreach campaigns to a similar audience you simply haven’t reached yet.
Use Social Media
One of the most obvious but multifaceted ways to use current customer loyalty to bring in new customers for your business is to use social media. If you don’t already have a Twitter feed, Facebook page and Google+ account for your business, it’s time to get on the ball! Besides these three things, you should also have a blog that gives readers an inside look at your business and that sets you up as the expert in your industry.
By inviting your already loyal customers to be part of your social networking initiative, you automatically get connected with each customer’s entire social network. There are a myriad of ways to leverage customer loyalty through social networking. You just have to find them!
If there’s any one area where you want to invest your advertising dollars right now, it’s in social media advertising. It’s worth your while to use small-business credit cards, bank loans or other forms of credit to set up great social media pages and even to add a few incentives, such as contests and drawings for your Facebook fans. As a small-business owner, you have to be very choosy about when you use credit, but a good social media campaign offers your best guarantee of great returns, especially if you work with a professional who is well-versed in the worlds of Facebook, Twitter and Google+!
Solve Customer Problems Quickly
Because of how simple it is for potential customers to find online reviews about businesses like yours, it’s incredibly easy for a small problem with customer service to become a huge blow to your business. Customers who are very unhappy with your business, for whatever reason, are most likely to speak out against you online and to leave bad reviews. These can very quickly escalate into a gigantic online reputation problem for your business.
For this reason, it’s more important than ever to solve customer problems quickly. Customers who have a problem that is quickly and efficiently resolved are going to leave great reviews about your business. Sometimes, showing that you can fix your mistakes is even better than seeming to make no mistakes in the first place! When you can find and resolve customer issues quickly, you’ll get better reviews online, which can make a world of difference as you try to bring in new customers for your business.
Continue Building Loyalty
Your main focus in using loyal customers to bring in new customers shouldn’t actually be how you can bring in new customers. That’s a side issue. Instead, your main focus should really be how you can retain your already-loyal customers. By creating customer loyalty programs, offering exclusive discounts and other bonuses to loyal customers, and communicating regularly with people who are already fans of your business, you’ll continue to create and cultivate loyalty among your customers.
In a world where social networking takes center stage, loyal customers will end up bringing in new customers all on their own. So as you’re focusing on gaining new customers, make sure you’re doing everything you can to continue building loyalty among your current customers. By simply keeping a focus on customer retention and loyalty-building, new customers will automatically trickle in at the recommendations of their friends and family members.
As a small business blogger at Credit Donkey, Ashyia Hill says using loyal customers to gain new ones isn’t a new practice, by any means, but it’s becoming more and more important in today’s world of social networking. As consumers place much more value on the opinions of others and much less value on inauthentic advertisements they can usually see straight through, it’s more important than ever that small businesses focus on building customer loyalty in order to bring in new customers.
This is a guest post by Ashyia Hill, small business blogger at Credit Donkey.
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