Get to Know Your Customers

Organizing a local sales event

This is one of the ultimate marketing questions for an entrepreneur: How do you build a stronger relationship with your customers?

Every small business has a niche, a target audience and a core group of customers who are loyal to its goods and services. In order to grow your business, though, you must reach out to engage potential customers — while making sure you maintain strong relationships with existing customers.

It can be tricky. But if you can learn how to appeal to your base and reach your prospects — you’ll be well on your way to effectively marketing your small business.

Connect with your customers.
Depending on the size and type of business you have, getting to know your customers can be challenging — but doing so is critical. Here are some ideas for connecting with customers, both new and old:

  • Host events that allow you to mix and mingle. On-site events, learning sessions, new product reveals and special “customer-only” gatherings allow you to interact with your clients in a whole new way. Take this as an opportunity to ask questions, learn about their likes, wants, and needs — and take notes about how you can best serve them
  • Get social — online. If you have a Facebook page, use it to find out what your customers want. You might be surprised at the responses you get when you ask your customers and prospects what items and services they’d like you to provide. On Facebook and Twitter, you have the opportunity to take your questions directly to your audience in a less formal manner.
  • If you don’t have a place to meet, create one. Elsewhere in social media, you can connect in unique ways. Set up a Google+ Hangout and chat live with customers and prospects about a specific topic — or just spend some time getting to know each other better. (Take good notes.) Or you could organize a contest on photo-sharing sites like Instagram or Pinterest where people can upload their images and vote on winners in specific categories.

Show them you care.
Strengthen the relationship by participating in activities in which you share interests, and keep listening — always.

  • Support/create events your customers will love. If possible, set up or participate in public events that attract your customers and prospects, or work with your chamber of commerce to develop an event that appeals to them. It could boost your image among your clients and help increase your status in the community. Plus, you can get to know your clients on a whole new level.
  • Give them an opportunity to share. Whether you have an anonymous suggestion box, a blog with comments enabled, or a “customers’ corner” section on your website where clients can offer feedback, give your customers a “safe” way to share their ideas and experiences and you just might find new ways to meet their needs.

Keep ’em coming back.
As you market your business to both existing and prospective customers, be careful to maintain, or even improve, the same great level of customer service that you’ve always provided. That way, your current customers will know you haven’t forgotten about them — and your new ones will be impressed by how much you clearly care about your clients.

All of your customers want to feel that you want to meet their needs. So learn as much as you can about them and do your best to deliver — and they’ll stick around to grow your business.

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