Gift with purchase is a really simple way to thank your customers for their order and make them feel like they are getting real value for money. It involves simply putting an extra free item in with every order. Receiving an unexpected gift is bound to impress, and helps justify the retail price for the consumer after the fact. It doesn't need to be something expensive, but a small and thoughtful item that you can buy in bulk. This is one method that small business owners can use to distinguish themselves from larger retailers who rarely give you anything for free. It shows that you appreciate every order and you should see a spike in repeat orders if you introduce this little trick.
Another huge benefit of running a small business is the ability to interact in a personal way that can build friendship and trust, whether it be online or offline. If your customers are local, visit any events you can that involve the businesses you work with, and build affiliations with trusted partners to help promote each other's businesses. Put some time aside every few days to focus on social media, not only sharing your own products but commenting and liking your customers posts too. Even if you a social-mediaphobe, a relatively short amount of time can help immensely. Encouraging people to post with your products will spread the word to their network, where the potential is huge to grow your customer base.
Have some end of line stock, or over-stocked on a particular item? Run a competition or a % off offer to your customers. Giving them a good deal will help shift that stock, and increase your traffic. Making deals exclusive to your email newsletter list will make them feel special too.
It's up to you how much you involve yourself in your business, but one thing to note is that (for small businesses at least) having a personality at the centre of the business is very much the way things work now. If you're willing to put yourself out there, blog, post and share your ideas when you're on the go, creating a narrative about your life and how it links to the way your products are made and sold. People with common interests will follow you, and will buy more stuff from you, with each post you make serving as a reminder that you sell products.
Staying active is so important when running a business. Sitting back and expecting the orders to keep coming in is foolhardy. Whether it's an updated site, blog post, product or social media post, you need to keep it fresh. Your customers will get bored if they're looking at the same old content all the time, and your Google rankings will take a nosedive if your site hasn't been updated in forever.
There is nothing that says thank you more than a personalised thank you card. If you have the time to do this, it is highly recommended. This shows a special attention to detail that cannot be beaten and will bag you a loyal customer for life for just a minute or two of your time. Time is the main expense here, with a little card costing next to nothing to buy.
Whilst customers can be demanding, listening and acting upon their requests is a big factor in building trust and showing that you care about your customers. If there's a suggested change that can be made, do it, and tell everyone you did it. Time and time again we see companies fall foul to not listening to their customer base. With social media having the ability to ruin a reputation instantly, you need to bring your A-game and be attentive to the needs of your clients.
Cross promotion is a win-win marketing strategy and will assist you in building and keeping your customer base. Find a local company that you can trust, promote each other's products and share the spoils. It's even better if the products compliment each other. You never know what other opportunities this may present to you, but diving into it head first will build your brand.
Looking after complaints is tricky, but handling them correctly can be fruitful. Customers can be irrational and shouty sometimes, but a sorted complaint is a retained customer, and can even increase their loyalty towards you. Receiving a complaint can be daunting, as the complainant will be at their most angriest when they contact you, with choice words saved up ready to rip you a new one. This is where you must show professionalism by listening to their complaint and coming up with a solution. You can stall for time if you need to, but ensure that you have communicated that you fully understand the nature of the complaint first. Once you've decided a solution, double your efforts to make it right.
A loyalty scheme is a tried and tested methods that works. Whether your a brick & mortar store or an online store, there a ways to implement the scheme that will see your return rates sky rocket. For a physical shop, the old card and stamp method works fine, and is still used by big retailers today. Make the reward for a full house decent and keen shoppers will return. For online stores this will depend on your platform. If you're using one of the big e-commerce plugins, they will all have the functionality to be able to create a loyalty system that grants a percentage off or free products after a certain time.
Actively research new ways that can improve your brand image and build trust with your customers. It's so important when establishing a business, as building a core audience will be key to sustaining and growing in the future.
Invest in this area. Put aside a small amount of your budget, and dedicate to these tasks. Most of them are free or cost very little, and the rewards are potentially huge
Rest of your laurels. Just because something is working now, doesn't mean it will forever. You have to move forward with new ideas to keep up and succeed.
Hide away. Try and be the face of your business as much as possible and bring friendships and partnerships that will last.