Do You Have A Customer Problem?
Every business needs a customer acquisition program of some kind. In competitive markets staying top-of-mind gives you the edge you need to succeed. Or if you’re the best kept secret in town and your problem is no one knows you exist, then promoting your business through various marketing channels is ideal, super easy and very affordable.
We’ve all walked past a restaurant that’s empty, while next door is a similar restaurant full with vibrant happy customers. The empty restaurant may believe they have a customer problem, but that isn’t always the case. Before investing in new customer acquisition, first check for other possible reasons why your best customers are walking away and not coming back.
Generating awareness that your business even exists and then educating consumers on of what you have to offer isn’t easy, but then again it’s not rocket science either (unless you’re actually a rocket scientist). By looking at your business and services from a customers point of view, get a fresh perspective to learn how your existing clients or regular shoppers found you, then identify what keeps them coming back for more.
There are two styles of marketing that deal with customer acquisition; Outbound Marketing and Inbound Marketing. Each have multiple subcategories chock full of more subgroups and mechanisms. So it’s important to know the difference when planning your marketing strategy.
Note: Don’t fall into the trap of chasing new customers at the expense of your regular repeat customers. The idea is to expand your base of repeat business by topping it up with new customers because repeat customers are more profitable.
Think of traditional advertising like commercials, print advertising, billboards and flyers where your message has the potential to be see by a large number of people, hopefully enough of those people will also be in your target market.
Then there’s digital advertising through Google Ad-words and Facebook Ads etc. where it’s possible to target consumers by demographics like age, location, sax and even interests. With re-marketing you can even display ads to customers who’ve clicks on a particular link or visited a page of your website. But it’s still an outreach activity to find customers.
Outbound tactics will always play an important role in your marketing strategy. But paid customer acquisition stops when you stop paying. So it makes sense to also implement an inbound strategy.
Inbound marketing has been around forever in the form of books and magazines, special interests publications. But new players on the block like Google and Facebook have taken it to new levels. An inbound strategy crates a forum for common interests and then promotes related products or businesses related to that group. It normally requires a little help from outbound tactics to kick start the group and inform the public that it’s out there.
Content Marketing is another branch of the inbound strategy. It’s a relatively new marketing tool that combines Inbound and Search Engine Marketing (SEM). As more and more consumers ignore or block invasive marketing methods and distrust sales pitches, content marketing emerged as a popular way to gradually build relationships with potential customers, and it is these relationships that lead to sales.
This strategy feels natural and genuine but unlike outbound strategies, once your content is out there it continues to work for you for months or years.
COST vs REWARD
Both options are quite costly. Paid advertising still has it’s place but it’s 100% a numbers game. If your returns outweigh your costs – great! Inbound marketing and content marketing in particular takes time and developing good quality content can be expensive. But as a long term strategy it’s hard to beat.
All forms of customer acquisition share some common ground. Potential customers will always expect to discover more about your business via your website. If you don’t have one, or even worse it makes you look unprofessional then you’ll lose them and the money you invested to find them in the first place. That’s why this section started with a reminder to focus on your conversion process first.
PROSPECTS x CONVERSION RATE = NEW CUSTOMERS
The search for new customers challenges all businesses. Small businesses find customer acquisition particularly challenging due to limitations of resources, time and marketing experience. So before you start to invest in this area check your conversion rate to make sure you’re not going to be throwing money away.
Sales ÷ Enquiries x 100 = % Conversion Rate
Example: 200 ÷ 800 x 100 = 25% Conversion Rate
It’s ALWAYS cheaper to improve your conversion rate or develop better repeat business strategies. The point here is to tighten up your conversion process BEFORE you start paying for new leads.