Expanding your customer base and profits can be a challenge and its one that almost every entrepreneur has faced. Successful entrepreneurs and founders like Tom Chapman of Matchesfashion and Kristo Käärmann of Transferwise have cracked the growth code, but even for them there were more than a few problems along the way. If your business is starting to gain traction and your looking to expand to new audiences, there are many strategies you can deploy.
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1. Get outside your comfort zone
The problem with being an entrepreneur is that not only is it backbreaking work but it can also be quite a lonely life. Moreover, this constant, often solo, battle can take its toll on your ability to lift your vision, pack up your tent and get out of your physical and mental comfort zone.
One way to get out of the office productively and introduce your business to a new audience, if you’re selling a product online, is to take the plunge and rent a pop-up shop. Just last week, the Co-Op announced that it would be opening a pop-up shop at the Glastonbury Festival this year. Many other big brands, including Innocent Drinks, use them to launch new products.
For a small business or start-up, there are lots of compelling reasons to take the idea of pop-up shops seriously. First, it’s a great way to gain traction in a new location at a reduced cost, test out the market and capitalise on decent footfall. Secondly, over the last few years, it has become much more straightforward, with a number of online booking platforms springing up, to help you chose a suitable site. When you need a quick way to get in front of new customers, pop-up shops are a practical and effective solution.
2. Start telling stories
Today, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that customers are not just interested in the actual products and services offered by a business. They also want to learn more about what they’re buying, where it’s from, the history, who makes it and why. Younger people are especially keen to know about a product’s ethical credentials.
This thirst for knowledge is an opportunity for businesses of all kinds, not just consumer-facing ones. Telling the story of your brand, your motivations, the people who make your products or develop your services and what drives them is a meaningful way to differentiate yourself from your competitors.
It also puts you in front of new audiences. Word-of-mouth is still the most potent marketing method. If you tell your stories effectively across all platforms, including on any packaging, through social media marketing and mailouts, you’re automatically drawing the friends and family of your existing customers towards your business.
3. Use all that data
Entrepreneurs horde data. Highly successful entrepreneurs use that data. The challenge is to accept that while you love collecting the data, you’re probably not using it effectively. This is an issue that is starting to plague all kinds of business; a large proportion of companies are data rich but insight poor.
The trouble is, it’s very easy to place the strategic emphasis on the collection of data, and much more difficult to move the focus onto using it. We can become very attached to our data, everything from spreadsheets right up to electronic data from scanners and website product-clicks, but less keen on doing anything with it.
Solving this problem effectively is vital if you’re going to get yourself in front of new audiences. Somewhere in all that data are patterns and trends that will give you the information you need to identify who these new customers are and where you can find them. If you set one priority this year, make it using your data or buying-in services that help you with analytics.
4. Give something back
Entrepreneurs tend to have a philanthropic mindset. You like to give back and, in fact, according to a YouGov survey commissioned by wealth manager Kleinwort Hambros, 65% millennial entrepreneurs give up to £20 per month to a good cause. This philanthropic affinity can be used to good effect.
If you partner with the right charity or social enterprise, you automatically extend your reach and get yourself in front of new potential customers. To make this strategy work it pays to choose a charity that aligns with your products and services, and if you’re a microbusiness, look first at the charities working in, and for, your local community.
This approach has the added advantage of giving you even more stories to tell on your website and social media. Moreover, entrepreneurs often find that being exposed to charities gives them a new take on marketing. Charities need money, and they have unique ways to secure it. Learning from the experts is never wasted effort.
Getting your products and services in front of new audiences can be a battle, but with the right strategies in place, you can make it easier to overcome the challenges.