How small businesses can boost patronage

” In this time that we are it is imperative that businesses invent ways to increase customers”


Customers are more inclined to patronising a business that goes the extra mile in marketing itself. Special treatments leave a positive impact on customers and keeps them returning to the business. Your inability to get enough loyal customers to patronise your small business should not make you despair. Analysts say entrepreneurs in the small-scale business category often face the challenge of how to grow their customers. According to them, what is required is how to generate new sales lead, as this is an essential skill for an entrepreneur. Experts note that there are a variety of age-old staple techniques and newer tools you can use to boost customer patronage and increase sales.
However, it’s best to understand the range of choices you have in order to determine which may best help your business reach new customers. Entrepreneurs should understand that newspaper readers may not be moved by Internet-based sales techniques. Similarly, business people who are accustomed with hiring only people they know may be better swayed by meeting you at a chamber of commerce gathering than accepting a blind invitation to connect on LinkedIn or Facebook. So, as an entrepreneur, it is your call to know the best means through which you can reach your target market.
In an interview with this correspondent, a business consultant, Mr. Goke Adebanjo, explained that sales and marketing are the engines of entrepreneurship. He stated that entrepreneurs must have both skills if they want to grow their businesses and increase their customer base. According to him, having the skills is not enough, but you have to be an expert in the ability to sell and market your products, especially if they are intangibles. Experts say it is important to conduct a market research to understand your target audience and their needs. They also state that you need to know how to determine which lead generation techniques are best to broaden your sales horizons, and how to increase sales by following several strategies to sell additional products and/or services to existing customers. Below are steps to help you increase customer patronage and boost sales for your small business, according to experts:
Networking
You can employ the old-fashioned method of networking, which requires you to get involved in community organisations, such as the chamber of commerce, or attending business functions, such as trade shows, experts say. Social functions like dinner invitations, book clubs, etc. can also lead to potential businesses. Experts say these are important ways to network and find new customers. According to professionals, networking has also taken a 21st Century twist on the Internet, with the rise in popularity of such websites as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Many businesses find that this type of networking, making contacts through friends or former colleagues, can lead to new customers. As a smart entrepreneur, you can take advantage of these channels to grow your customer base.
Encourage loyal customers
Your loyal customers are champions of your products. You should encourage them by giving them the right attention and care, as whatever treatment they receive from you will be publicised. Experts say you should use your business contacts, who have been happy with your products, to help generate references and referrals. Once you have sold to them, customers can help you to sell to others by offering positive testimonials and leveraging a refer-a-friend campaign created by your business. According to professionals, this technique also employs word-of-mouth marketing. Help the customers to help you by giving them the ammunition they need to tell your story to others. Don’t be afraid to ask if there is someone else you can talk to and also help with your services. As an entrepreneur, employ every legal strategy that will boost your sales and increase your profit.
Establish partnerships
This is another gainful strategy. Affiliate marketing is also crucial in your bid to grow your customer base, experts say. They state that you should look at non-competitive products or services that are reaching out to the same audience to see if there are ways you can collaborate through shared outreach efforts such as newsletters, mailings (online and offline) or co-branding opportunities. According to professionals, you probably can uncover a handful of like-minded products or services that are talking to your customers. It is advisable to suggest to these business owners ways your businesses can support one another. Your customers will see joint efforts as a value-added opportunity to reinforce their choice of brands. This might end up increasing your output and impacting on your turnover positively.
Advertise your business
This is one tool that requires spending. It is not out of place to spend money while trying to boost sales and productivity. Experts say typically, businesses are encouraged to spend three to five per cent of their revenue on advertising, but a small business needs to make sure that advertising is effective. According to professionals, one way to do this is to ask your customers where they heard about you so that you can measure what is effective. In addition, you also have to carefully pick your markets for advertising to make sure you’re reaching your target audience. If you’re targeting an older audience, newspaper ads might be the way to go. However, you’ve got to define your demographics before you develop your advertising or marketing plan. Good adverts attract customers to businesses, so ensure yours is shrewdly done.
Increase sales to existing customers
As you strive to increase your customer base, don’t neglect your existing ones. Small business analysts say in order to increase sales, many businesses believe the only way is to find new customers, but this strategy leaves out an obvious potential source of new sales. It’s much easier to get an existing customer to buy from you than to convince a new customer to take the plunge. Businesses that fall short of this, experts say, are forgetting about the low hanging fruit, which is their existing customer base. If you want to expand sales, the number one place to go is your existing customer base, because they already trust you. So, it is important for you to continue selling to your existing customers in a bid to boost sales and find new customers for your venture.
BY ADEMOLA ALAWIYE

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