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We all know that getting customers is difficult, and that keeping them is an even bigger challenge. But there are a few things that help – and in our day and age we can put them into two categories, physical and digital. So here’s a few things to consider.

Physical

To attract people off the street, your shop must be appealing. Secondly, the staff must be friendly. A nice looking venue does’t help much if the staff are inattentive or grumpy. And lastly, the products or services on offer must be great. Give your customers a reason to come in, and make sure their visit is a success.  

This is pretty basic, and is likely to attract customers. The next step is to have them come back to you.

For most people, there are three things that matter when choosing where to go. Location, quality and cost. 

Location means that your local customers are the ones most likely to come back. If you’re a neighbourhood pub or a high street hair salon, you have probably noticed that some faces walk by regularly.

Quality means that if you provide a good product or a good service, people will remember it, and think positively about your business. And if they are local to you – this is crucial. 

Cost is also a factor. If it is too expensive, people might walk that extra 1/4 mile to save £1 – especially if your competitors match you on quality and range. Here are 5 tips for pricing in a small business.

A loyalty and promotion program is a good way to keep customers. Everyone loves a bargain, so if you offer them every 6th purchase for free, half price in a particular time bracket, or offer them a complimentary coffee with their cake, you increase the chance of the customer returning – and bring their friends along, too. This way slightly higher prices is also likely to be tolerated by the customer, as they have a chance of getting something in return.

Digital

Ditch outdated marketing by using smarter and more affordable methods to remind customers that you still exist. Use social media, posters or digital marketing to promote your business, and see the customers come! Push notifications are an efficient way of getting noticed – especially in combination with an offer. And because so many of us have an intimate relationship with our smartphones, you can rest assured that your promotion will be noticed. 

If you don’t have an app or an affiliate which facilitates this, you might have a digital space? These days, a digital space (ie. a homepage, a Facebook page or a Twitter account) and presence in social media can be crucial. We live in a research-savvy society, and many people are reluctant to try new places they haven’t heard or read good stuff about.

So, in addition to your actual shop, your digital tracks should be up to date. Use social media, and make an effort to set up a nice looking homepage with relevant information and pictures on it. Easy ways of doing this include using ready templates, such as blogspot or wordpress, which anyone can use. Link to your homepage from your social media pages, and make it easy for people to find you. Be accessible.

To finish up; a nice shop, with smiling, friendly staff and good quality products is all well and good, but to attract and keep new customers, an online presence could be a great help. First impressions matter, and by creating a good digital space you can make sure you give off the right one. 

With 2014 fast approaching we decided that instead of a new year’s resolution that we break by noon on 1st January we would get our houses and office ship shape, tidy and free from clutter. After all, they say your house or your office is a mirror of your mind and thought process and we need to be clear headed, especially with so many big plans and more and more downloads of our app. Read more

They’re your favourite customers and the ones who you instantly recognise when they walk into your shop. You know these customers are important to your business, but did you know that these customers drive up to 80 percent of your total revenue? Read more

Suppose you are an independent merchant. You want a loyalty program because you want to get your regular customers spending more and you want to find a way of guaranteeing that spend by rewarding their loyalty. What do you do?

A lot of merchants consider plastic loyalty cards. This is a big mistake. An even bigger mistake than cardboard. The one thing to be said in favour of cardboard is that it is cheap. For a busy coffee shop or hair salon, handing out paper cards to all comers is no big deal. It costs them maybe £10 a month.  If it’s a thriving business, they won’t notice the cost. Plastic is quite another matter. Read more

In the retail industry many business owners are obsessed with the issue of trying to find new customers. They are obsessed with making sure their advertising, displays and pricing are all geared to attract new customers. This focus on pursuing new customers is certainly prudent and necessary but, at the same time, it is not necessarily the best use of a marketing budget. In fact, established brands are slowly increasing their focus on loyalty marketing.

Restaurant chain Nando’s recently upgraded its paper loyalty card system to a plastic card and smartphone app. Plastic cards are a good first step, but even they seem increasingly outdated compared with stand alone apps. How many of us want to carry around a plastic card for every one of our favourite stores? Read more