“New”—a word that no one can resist. New businesses always draw a crowd on opening day, but where is that crowd a week or month later? Creating a buzz for your new company is key to maintaining a solid community presence, but the following months are far more important.
Let’s look at a few ways you can make a splash in your community on your opening day, plus strategies to ensure it continues building a wave over the years. The goal of any business is to create a sense of loyalty and to etch your way into every customer’s daily or weekly routine.
Here are some factors to consider:
- Marketing research is essential. Find out what your competitors are about. What do they do well and what do they do poorly? This can show you how to compete and how you can differentiate yourself. This is even more important if competitors are a part of your prospective customer’s everyday routine. If you plan to be included in daily activities, you must understand where your competitors lack and distinguish your product or company in those ways. Make the buyer’s experience better with you.
- Location is important to routine. Starting a new business next to a high school, college, or even a large corporation could increase impulse buying. Make a routine stop at your store take less time than any of your competitors. If you can’t get the best location, find a way to make the extra trip worthwhile. Offering a better product or price can make a big difference.
- Hiring must be handled carefully. Employ only excited and competent candidates, because great customer service is what brings people back. Employee loyalty=customer loyalty. Combine unbeatable customer service with a product people love, and you’ll be in good shape. Remember—the first two customer experiences are the most critical when establishing yourself as a new business. If a visitor comes in and has a poor experience, with a lazy or bored employee, he probably won’t come back. If his first experience was positive, he could bring friends or family the next time. This visit may be even more critical because your customer is putting his reputation on the line by bringing others to your store. Don’t make him regret it with poor service or long waits.
Go beyond making a splash by building a wave:
- Begin posting on multiple social media platforms before opening day. Spread the word early to create a bigger following.
- Consider cross-promotion with other businesses that aren’t direct competitors.
- Find new ways to better cater to your customers. For example, Chipotle now delivers. Taco Bell has a new mobile app for ordering. Be innovative and convenient.
- Offer a loyalty program from the beginning. Punch cards are great, but give away something (like a free carpet cleaning on birthdays) in exchange for an email address. This acquires emails quickly so you can drip-market and stay in customers’ minds.
- Support community activities. If your clients have kids in the 4-H fair, consider sponsoring a few 4-H events so that your name remains a part of their lives.
- Invest in new technology. New drink machines, check-out tablets, and other technology can make the experience convenient, fast, and a little fun!
- Relate to your customers. Starbucks writes your name on the cup to foster a first-name relationship with you, while employees work to remember your name.
- Dedicate time to building and maintaining a database of contact information—emails, phone numbers, etc. Send special offers and keep readers in the loop with company events. Invite them to like your social media pages, where you can post exclusive deals.
Is it really necessary to invest your time?
If you want to obtain loyal customers—yes! This means putting time into establishing attainable short-term goals, which create long-term goals as your wave continues. You will find new ways to transform and improve your business. If you develop additional products, loyal customers are 60% more likely to purchase them than a brand-new customer simply because of the bond you have created. Loyal customers are also a powerful chain of free marketing. Word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing—it is important to start working on your “army of free sales people.”
Remember that 80% of business comes from 20% of customers. Establish that 20% of loyal buyers early and keep them engaged and growing!
Those who fully support your business will provide honest feedback, extend grace upon mistakes, and deliver positive reviews. Investing time to get to know your customers will also guard you from competition. Every buying experience should feel new if you want to obtain routine customers.
Take time to get to know them as people. The time is worth it, and the time is now.