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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

How Are You Finding New Customers?

The Phone Book Listings: Do they still work?
I'm curious. How are you finding new customers? Are you having to take new approaches to attract customers to your business? Or, are the Yellow Pages and print ads still working for you?

I've spoken with many retailers and business owners over the past few months who've told me: The Old Ways Aren’t Working.

Is it the same for you?

And, if it is, what are you finding works best for your business?

From my perspective, I see everyone around me becoming immersed digitally - from my 9 year old daughter to my 84 year old mother who grudgingly acknowledges that Skype is the only way to call France.  If 77.3% of the U.S. population uses the Internet, and a majority of those people [70 to 90%] start the purchase process at a search window, then we truly do live in a Digital World.

[According to BIA/Kelsey, 97% of local customers use online media to research businesses in their community.]

From Socialnomics' Social Media Revolution 2 Refresh, I find it amazing that it took radio 38 years to reach 50 million users, TV - 13 years, the Internet - 4 years while Facebook reach 200 million users in less than one year.

What does that mean for your marketplace? Most of your customers are certainly going online to start their purchase process - especially your core women consumers who represent the majority of the online audience [how can you beat the convenience, 24/7 availability, community and practicality of easy communication and searchable content.  Furthermore, 84% of social media sites are frequented more by women than men Source: CRM Buyer]. They start educating themselves online via the content they encounter - which includes blogs, forums, reviews, social commentary...

The implication is that you must be found when your customers start searching - via rich, relevant content written from your customers' perspective, using their language and their search terms.

When do your customers interact with you? Which of your communication tools do they interact with first? I bet you've had to adjust. So, what are you doing now that you weren't just a few years ago to help you connect with new customers?

According to eMarketer, SMBs Turn to Social Before Search because they consider "word-of-mouth as the top way their customers find them, followed by the internet and search engines." What have you observed? Are you more immersed in social tools?

If you've embraced social as an effective means for finding new customers, have you created consistent social profiles from one social platform to another? Do your profiles point back to your website or blog?  Which social platform have you found most beneficial?

Every conversation I've had lately highlights the amazing opportunities available to businesses once they have accepted that the old ways no longer work for them. What are you finding success with for finding new customers?

Note: this is the first of an ongoing series about Practical Marketing for Small Businesses: Improving Your Digital Visibility inspired by the conversations I had in preparation for Coverings 2011.

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Photo Credit: The Phone Book Listings originally uploaded by herzogbr.

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