The 10 steps to finding more customers

Published: Monday, Nov. 5 2012 9:00 p.m. MST

"This whole experience has been very helpful. I believe I know my customers and their specific needs and wants much better. I now have a feeling for what people seek and how I can best serve them. I have also learned the high value of using social media with my customers. They gather the news, updates from friends, make purchases, enjoy entertainment and discover what's new in the world via various Internet portals. It's clear to me that I can readily reach out online to current and new customers at any time and on any subject through social media.

"As I ponder what I learned, I recognize that I can keep and add new customers by listening and responding appropriately and by inviting my current customers to tell their friends about us. Everyone I spoke to said they were willing to talk to their associates about Bountiful Eatery. How easy was that? I am so excited about having a profitable business as I engage with many new customers. Based on what I now know, I am confident I can open a second restaurant in the next year. When I do, it will have booths, in addition to tables, in fact."

Ed is like you and me; constantly looking for more business. I am thrilled O'Brien walked away from my speech with a new growth strategy that will work for him.

And now I am pleased to share with you my own list of the 10 steps to building a strong future customer base. They are as follows:

1. Start by knowing your current customers and everything about them. I suggest that you develop a precise profile of shoppers; age, education, gender, marital status, employment, hobbies and the places they visit, online and off. Once this is complete, it will be very clear to you who your true clients are.

2. Know their needs and wants. Take time to visit with them. Ask pertinent questions. Listen and learn.

3. Know what they think about your solution and what they think about the competition. Look for problems and opportunities.

4. Know what they watch, listen to and read.

5. Recognize that your customers have friends who are like them.

6. Ask your customers to invite their friends to engage with you. Entice them to connect with these friends via the Internet on your behalf.

7. Invite these prospective buyers to try your offerings.

8. Provide a special introductory offer to them and likewise reward your current clients who helped.

9. Ensure a splendid buying and user experience. Go out of your way to take care of these new shoppers.

10. Ask your new customers to also make referrals. Don't be shy. It's how business grows.

What are your own best strategies for finding more customers? I welcome your ideas. You can reach me at @AskAlanEHall or via my personal website at www.AlanEHall.com.

Alan E. Hall is a co-founding managing director of Mercato Partners, a regionally focused growth capital investment firm. He founded Grow Utah Ventures, is the founder of MarketStar Corp. and is chairman of the Utah Technology Council.

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