Tips for Building Up Your Customer Base

If you’re a regular reader of this column, then you’ve probably gathered that we are big fans of using your database to drive customers and sales to your business. The cost of engaging a warm prospect is always much lower than the expense of trying to attract a new one.

But a business that relies 100 percent on existing customers eventually will find itself running out of customers, so there is an ongoing need to funnel new prospects to your business.

A great way to find customers is to tap the loyal customer base of other businesses that are complementary to yours. Word-of-mouth from other businesses has always been a cheap and effective means of marketing—especially when you can create a win for you, a win for the customer, and a win for the other business.

Here’s an example of what we mean by that: Recently, Leanne had to purchase a new phone and then discovered that it didn’t fit into her old phone cover. Just outside the phone shop in the middle of the mall was a kiosk selling covers. Very convenient—except we noticed it only because we had stopped to look in another store.

I would bet the kiosk gets a lot of business from the phone store, and I’d also bet that it doesn’t get all the business it could because people don’t see it. Wouldn’t it be easy for the kiosk to offer the phone store a free voucher entitling any phone purchaser to a $5–$10 voucher or free set of ear buds with each purchase, or whatever it would take to get customers across to the kiosk? Would the phone store look good to its customers giving them something free with each purchase? Sure. Would the customers like it? You bet. Would it cost anything if they never showed up to use it? No.

Now apply the same dynamic to the jewelry business. What if you offered the reception venue your bridal clients are most likely to use a $50 voucher so the venue could give it away as a gift to brides-to-be? Would its customers like it? Sure. Would it make the wedding venue look good? Definitely. Would it cost you anything? Not until it’s redeemed (given the average price of a wedding ring, $50 seems a small amount to concede). Remember: This is not a discount. It’s a marketing cost you’ll have to pay only when the customer actually spends with you. How good is that?