There was a time in the not too distant past when selling your product or service to the public was just a matter of throwing your doors open and telling your community that you were in business. Not anymore. Not only is today’s business market much more complicated, but there are many more competitors, no matter what business you are in and, well, the sluggish economy isn’t doing business any big favors either. What’s the solution? Diversification.
What’s Good for the Portfolio is Good for Business
Diversification has long been a watchword when attempting to make money in the stock market. Not only does it open your investing dollars to more opportunities, but it also spreads your risks among a variety of investments, increasing the chances that you will maximize the ups and minimizing the downs of the market. The same idea holds true of a smart business owner’s customer base. If, for example, your dominant market consisted of customers who patronize your business in your immediate vicinity, perhaps that market is aging or not helping to make your sales goals. The answer for a better future might be to expand your customer base to those public outside of your immediate market area.
Easier Said Than Done?
The idea of expanding a customer base beyond what a business owner might currently enjoy might seem like a good idea, but when all is said and done, it might also seem to be a lot easier said than done. The truth is, it’s not. The secret is market segmentation.
In a very real sense the general public does not exist. Instead, what might appear to be a general public is actually made up of highly segmented groups. For example, the first look at those who visit your business might seem like what most would consider “general,” but cast with a discerning eye, and chances are good you will see distinctive differences. First, are those who most often patronize your business generally of one sex or another? Older, middle age, or young? Educated or not as well educated? Those who have particular interests versus those who do not? Once these questions are answered you can get a better idea of how to expand your current customer base.
Owning and operating a business on a day to day business can cause many owners and managers to be lulled into complacency. After all, why worry when things are good? But expanding your customer base to increase sales requires breaking out of your standard routine into new areas you might not be used to. Fortunately, if done correctly, it can be the beginning of an exciting and, yes, more profitable period for your business.
Is there a part of your community that is largely African-American, Hispanic or Asian? Perhaps you want to increase your business among females or younger customers? All it takes is to reach out to those groups to attract interest among them for your business. It might take time and effort, but your work will be well rewarded.
Tools for Outreach
This is all well and good, you might say, but how do you accomplish this? It’s easy, by reaching out in the same ways you met your current customer base. Might might happen by opening a new location or moving your current location to a more promising market area. Another alternative is to increase your promotional efforts among those new markets. Advertise in the publications that appeal to them. Offer special sales to those markets. Go to meetings to promote yourself where members of that public might be. Every opportunity you take to promote your business to a new market segment is sure to increase your market share among that group.
In the End
It’s not easy to build a business. You already knew that. It takes time, money, and effort. But when it comes right down to it, it is simple to build a business. And to increase your customer base is perhaps the simplest and most rewarding activity of all.