When you look at the successful businesses around you, note that although there are differences--some are big, some are small, some have lots of employees, some are one-person shows--most of them have something in common.
They weren't built overnight.
It's the rare business that springs up out of nowhere and takes the world by storm. Out of these, most don't last. They end up being a passing trend. If you want a successful, long-lasting business venture, you have to build it slowly and steadily.
How? Get a loyal client base.
Your clients make your business. You want people who will stick with you and your product. They'll recommend you to their friends and colleagues, because that's the best advertising of all. You'll be loyal to them in return, and show that you have the expertise to deliver the products and results that they want.
Here my five top strategies to attract and retain clientele:
1. Be a know-it-all when it comes to your target audience.
Know everything about your target audience. Who are they? Are they male or female? How old are they? What do they do for a living? How much do they make? Do they have children? What do they drive? Where do they live? How much education do they have?
A detailed profile of your target audience will allow you to understand them, gear your communication to them and get them what they need. You'll become so adept at serving them that they won't want to go anywhere else.
I once attended a summit where the speaker blew me away. She said she had her target customer nailed down to her morning breakfast choices. Her target customer liked to do Pilates and painted her fingernails Millennial pink.
It made me rethink how much I knew about my own target demographic for my business, Bikini Luxe. Fine-tuning these details might shallow out your pool, but it'll be easier to catch the fish in the end.
2. Make them feel valued.
You know that the customer is always right. Did you know they're also royalty?
You need to make your clients, whether they've spent $50 or $500,000, feel like they're the most important people in the world--that you're listening to them, catering to their needs, and thankful for their business. Always go above and beyond for your clients, because if you don't there's always your competitor waiting around the corner, ready and willing.
3. Develop a strategy to convert one-time customers into repeat customers.
This is your long-term goal. If they've seen you once, there's no reason they shouldn't keep coming back. It's your job to make sure they felt valued, had good service for their money, and trust you enough to give you their business again.
If your one-time customers aren't coming back, you have a problem. Make sure you're re-targeting them with deals they can't refuse, especially when they're most likely to place a repeat order.
I run a swimwear business. Someone to whom who I sold a bathing suit should think enough of my business to come back when they need a new piece for a new occasion.
4. Know your stuff, inside and out.
Do you know what an SME is? It's a "subject-matter expert," and exactly what you should be.
Be the expert in your field. Make sure you are up on all the latest innovation, read industry publications, stay on top of social media and always be one step ahead in the game. If a client calls to ask you about a new initiative, you should already know about it.
Keep up with the news. It only takes a few minutes a day, and will make you seem more "with it" than your competition.
5. Follow up.
After you've served your client, the transaction still has not ended. You need to follow up with them, whether it's a day, a week or a month later.
See if there's more you can do for them. Find out how their experience was. Ask if there's any way you can improve your experience the next time, and then make it happen.
Small gestures can go a long way in transforming first time customers into long term supporters. At my company, we send follow-up emails a couple weeks after every order to be sure customers are happy with the quality of their items. These are the people most likely to provide the best word-of-mouth advertising, which is the cheapest and most valuable kind of advertising there is.
Do yourself a favor: Go above and beyond just once today. See what happens. If you get great results, repeat the process. You'll have a slew of happy customers in no time.