(Words by Allison Zimmer, Communications Specialist at Xerox)
Small business owners often feel pressured to be all things to all people. They feel the same about their businesses as well. But the key to success doesn’t lie in pleasing everyone, but rather in giving the right things to the right people.
Widening your range of products or services in an attempt to widen your customer base is a move that can easily backfire. By expanding too wide in scope, you may find you become inconsistent with your brand, or lose sight of it altogether. What’s more, we are all familiar with the phrase, “Jack of all trades, master of none.” Trying to increase your business by offering products or services in which you’re inexpert, or branching out to meet a demand before you’re fully prepared, will only alienate clients.
So how do you increase your focus on the customers you have, and sell more of the products and services in which you specialize?
Narrower Focus, Wider Success
-Know Your Strengths. Every business is passionate about what they do. Your goal should be to become the best at what you do, not to do what everyone else is doing. By honing in on the skills that you are best suited to offer your customers, and establishing a strong brand identity, you are far more likely to succeed. Ask yourself, which offerings do you provide that are superior to your competition? Identify your competitive advantages and make them core to your business. By clearly defining your offerings, you will identify ways to improve them, as well as opportunities to expand, innovate, and become an expert in your field.
-Target Customers Who Need Your Skills. Who are the customers that can benefit directly from your services? What problems do you solve? By defining the customers who need your business, you can target them more effectively, and capture a larger percentage of their business. While it is tempting to go after a larger audience, if you can’t serve them successfully, you’ll only make your customer base smaller.
-Secure Your Existing Customers. You can put in less work attracting new customers if you secure the ones you have. Consider building a loyalty program that keeps customers satisfied and your business in their line of sight. Repeat business – and word of mouth referrals from satisfied customers – have value beyond the sale.
-Know Your Customers AND Your Values. Understanding what is important to your customers beyond their business needs can help you establish loyalty that will go beyond the product when those values align with issues that matters to you. Just be sure that when taking a stance to connect with customers -for example on social media – that your goal is connection and inclusion, not alienation and exclusion. For example, identifying as a family owned business or encouraging customers to shop local is a smart fit (if it fits your brand). Openly supporting a political candidate or issue – not so much.
Simple Strategies, Sophisticated Results
Once you’ve identified a strong brand identity and the customers who can benefit from your business, there are simple strategies that can help you target those customers.
Satisfied customers can be excellent advocates for your brand. A great way to engage them is through your customer loyalty program, wherein they receive points, discounts or other incentives for referring customers or providing testimonials on social media.
It also pays to continue learning and innovating. Once you’ve established a specific expertise for your specific customer base, it’s time to continue evolving and improving the value you offer. Continuous improvement and innovation from a brand they trust will keep customers interested and coming back for more.
Ultimately, trying to appeal to a more targeted customer base is your best bet for creating a consistent brand with a loyal following.
By focusing on the areas in which you have an expertise, and innovating and growing in those areas, you will better serve your customers, and create a positive customer experience that will keep them coming back.