5 Ways to Increase Customers For Your Small Business

Scaling / June 15, 2015 / Kristie

In a perfect world, the minute you open the doors to your business, customers come flooding in. The phone rings off the hook with clients in need of your products or services…in a perfect world. Since we don’t live in a fairytale, increasing customers requires work. You need to be actively doing something to increase customers. You need to be promoting your business, providing top quality customer service so people recommend you to all their friends, and being creative about getting your business out there while making it stand out against competitors.

Anyone that runs a business knows that you can’t just sit around twiddling your thumbs, hoping that clients will just come to you. Running your business is a fine balance of seeking new clients, while managing the work load of your existing customer base.


So, how do you increase customers?

We’ve asked a few of our customers in various industries what methods they’ve used to increase customers and what has worked for them. Some customers stuck with one tried and true method, while others have experimented with a few ways to increase customers.

Here are 5 proven methods for increasing customers that have been tested by our customers.

#1 Mailing Lists & Seminars

Neil Tyra is an attorney in Rockville, Maryland that specializes in family law, elderly law, and estate planning. His clients are all local so to increase his customers he’s leveraged mailing lists and leads seminars.

“I’ve used mailing lists in the past and now as I transition to a new practice area, I’m doing seminars to help educate the public and hopefully attract more clients that need my services. That also is a technology based endeavour because it involves purchasing mailing lists, using third parties to send out invitations, and then collecting all the potential client data. I then used that data for automated mailing packages in order to stay in touch with those clients and convert them into paying customers. After that point I have a base of clients and customers who further referred me to their friends and family.” – Neil Tyra, The Tyra Law Firm

By purchasing mailing lists, and inviting people in his community to seminars, Neil is able to educate potential customers and then do follow ups to convert them into customers. Read Neil Tyra’s full story here. You don’t have to be a lawyer for this method to work. For a graphic designer, you could lead a seminar about the importance of a strong logo and brand and invite local businesses in the area. A photographer could lead a workshop about increasing confidence in front of the camera and promote a deal on a private photoshoot for their special someone leading up to Valentine’s Day, a wedding, or a birthday.

Educating people around you gives you the opportunity to prove your knowledge and expertise in an area, while building trust with potential clients.

#2 Organic Search

Nordica Photography specializes in photography for destination weddings. Before starting a photography business, founders Cole and Jakob came from a background in Marketing. When they started their photography business they leveraged their knowledge in Marketing to increase customers.

“We’ve never had to spend any money on advertising. Most of our enquiries come from search engines. When we graduated with experience in marketing we started doing a lot of blogging to build up our online presence. We had our heads wrapped around search engines from the beginning. 90% of our enquiries come from organic searches.”- Cole Roberts, Nordica Photography

While many wedding photographers focus on increasing customers locally, Nordica Photography needs to increase customers globally because they specialize in destination weddings. By optimizing their website for search engines and blogging to direct more traffic to their website, they are able to increase the number of leads and convert them into customers.

Read Nordica Photography’s full case study here. Not quite sure how to optimize your website for organic search? Read these 5 Basic Tips to Improve Organic Search.

#3 Good Old Fashioned Word of Mouth

Word of mouth may be an “oldie” when it comes to ways of increasing customers but it’s also a goodie, especially for businesses that are mainly work face-to-face with their customers. Cambridge Management Sciences is a consulting company in the UK that helps businesses improve management and efficiency. While they’ve tried many ways to increase customers, word of mouth has given them the best results and all it costs them is excellent customer service.

“We’ve tried a number of things to grow our contact list including advertising, editorials in journals and magazines, exhibitions, word of mouth, referrals, and networking. We found that personal contact and word of mouth have been most beneficial–and I can tell you that because we analyze it in Daylite! We record the source of every opportunity so we know how we got it. This has saved us a lot of money on advertising because we can prove that for our business it was less beneficial.” – Steve McGrady, Cambridge Management Sciences

After you have an existing client base, you can leverage these relationships to build new ones and increase customers. For this method to be effective, you need to provide excellent customer service and be amazing at what you do. When your customers are happy with the service you provide them, they’re more likely to tell all their friends which helps you increase your customers. Read Cambridge Management Sciences full case study here.

#4 Cold Calling

Solaris Placement is a recruiting agency in New York that has also relied mainly on referrals for their business. In addition, they use cold calling to get their foot in the door with new leads because it helps them start a personal relationship with potential clients.

“Most of our clients come to us through referrals. We also do outbound marketing, cold calling, and social media. I find I would rather call the person and have a conversation. I find human contact is becoming even more important to people as we become more tech centric.” – James Weston, Polaris Placement

When everyone is inundated with emails, the personal touch of speaking to a live person over the phone can make all the difference. While this method may not work for some company structures because it requires a lot of time and customer interactions, for businesses targeting smaller and more focussed clients, it’s exactly the kind of thing that can make you stand out against your competition. Read Polaris Placement’s full case study here.

#5. Social Media

Judy Hayward started Hayward & Co Lawyers, a boutique law firm in Australia that specializes in wills and estates. Judy is another business owner that has been able to leverage referrals for her business, as well as social media to increase customers.

“My practice is referral based – mainly from other professionals – solicitors, accountants, and financial planners. I also use social media and find that it drives a lot of traffic to our website. I am on Twitter @Haywardco, Facebook and Linkedin and I am just establishing my Google+ profile. I notice our enquiries always significantly increase when I consistently follow our social media strategy.” – Judy Hayward, Hayward & Co Lawyers

When you’re working with a limited budget, social media is a great way to increase customer with minimal cost. All you basically need to do is invest time to create and share valuable content with your target audience. Read Hayward & Co Lawyers’ full case study here. Don’t have enough time to invest in social media? Check out Social Media Guru, Peg Fitzpatrick’s 10 Tips for Maximizing Your Social Media Efforts.

As you increase customers, make sure you’re using an effective tool to manage them. This helps you provide 5-star customer service to all of your customers and keeps the list growing.

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