Behold the customer: elusive, fickle, and critical to your company's success.
Without customers, businesses cease to exist. Just ask Compaq, RCA, Enron, E.F. Hutton, and Pets.com. Even with good products, robust marketing budgets, and a lot of love from Wall Street, they all failed to build, grow, and galvanize their customer bases.
Some of their brands went stale. Some were offering the right products and services at the wrong time. Others simply didn't have the ability to entice customers to do business with them.
Quickly building – and maintaining – your customer base is a critical first step toward building a business that withstands the test of time.
Here's a look at five surefire tips to help you quickly build your customer base:
1) Get to Know Them
Today's world is filled with data. In fact, there has never been more information available about customers. The first step toward building a customer base is to know your customers – and know them with precision.
Use the data available to develop precise customer profiles, including age, gender, professional goals, personal interests, and what they want from their vendors and business partners. Knowing who your customers are will help you tailor your software marketing materials to a targeted group of people. And tailored software marketing materials are much more likely to be effective.
2) Concentrate on Customer Service
The numbers don't lie: customers demand exceptional service. In fact, 76 percent of consumers say that customer service is the truest test of how much an organization values them, according to the 2015 Aspect Consumer Experience Survey.
You'll only be able to convert prospects into customers (and them keep them) if you consistently deliver exceptional customer service. So make sure you welcome them, respond to them, and always exceed their expectations.
3) Never Underestimate the Power of Networks
Networking gets a bad rap. In some circles, it's a 10-letter word that might as well be a four-letter word. But the interesting thing about networking is this: it works.
Most start-ups find initial customers through word-of-mouth, which means that the more people you know, the more prospects you have. And once you convert those prospects into customers, you can network with them to continue to build your customer base.
So get out there and find out what you can do for people – and what they can do for you.
4) Build Partnerships
It's been said that there is strength in numbers. This is especially true when it comes to quickly building your customer base.
If you partner with another company that already offers complementary services, you can tap into their existing customer base and vice versa. Incorporating information about partnerships that are beneficial to customers into your software marketing materials is a great way to show customers that you have the ability to help them grow by adding value beyond what they expect. It demonstrates that you are much more focused on customers' success than you are on your own sales.
5) Rely on Professional Referral Marketing
You already know that word-of-mouth is the best form of advertising. So why not leverage the power of trusted professionals to spread the word about your business?
Professional referral marketing involves partnering with other professionals to refer customers and clients to one another. It's a strategy that often results in a flood of new clients, better brand recognition, and a serious return on your investment.
In fact, it might just be the most cost-effective form of software marketing out there. And not to beat a dead horse, but one of the best ways to build a professional referral marketing program is to actively engage in networking. In all of this, having a solid inbound marketing system in place allows you to leverage all of these activities for perpetual long term lead generation.