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How to Build a Customer Base for Your Startup?

What is a customer base, and why is it important?

By Wikipedia’s definition, a customer base is the group of customers who repeatedly purchase the goods or services of a business. These customers are the main source of revenue for a company. The customer base may be considered the business’s target market, where customer behaviors are well understood through market research or past experience.

How to identify your customer base if you don’t know anything about your market?

Disclaimer: you should not start a business without knowing your ideal customer base. Successful startups and new companies typically enter the market with several years of experience and deep knowledge about the market, industry, or sector they will operate in.

Building a customer base should be a key element of your business strategy, and a precise action plan should be defined well before starting any business activity.

How to get started with defining your customer base? 

If you can’t afford proper market research, think about key characteristics of people likely to pay for your goods or services. Inc. magazine advises you should narrow your focus as tightly as possible to determine exactly who to target for marketing your business.

A more industry-standard way to determine your ideal customer base is to survey various segments and see which groups of people react the best to your business concept or brand in general. 

This can be done with our Business Concept Audit.

How to engage your customers?

The best way to engage people in your target customer segments is to start conversations with them. As a small business, you can do this on Reddit or Quora, on your company’s Facebook page, or even on YouTube. 

Share relevant content that brings value to them and demonstrates your expertise and brand values at the same time. Encourage people to ask questions, start a conversation and be as human as possible. People react very well to that.

Key things to remember to be engaging:

  • Don’t sound like a corporation
  • Ask often, make your content inclusive
  • Make it rewarding and exciting for people to engage
  • Don’t try to sell – forget your any promotional language

Develop your industry expert status and brand identity

It mostly depends on what is your industry, line of business, and audience. In general, you cannot go wrong with establishing an expert status for yourself or your brand – so people in your niche will develop trust.

Once you find a tone for your brand, keep communicating to people without selling them anything. You can make your products and services easily available for them, and make it look like the best option out there -> that combined with your established trust will make them choose you over other alternatives.

What are the key benefits of being an industry-expert?

  • Increased credibility
  • Customers will want to hear from you
  • Your content will be shared
  • It will feel like a privilige to work with you

Five proven techniques and tactics to grow your customer base

Depending on your business model and industry, there are various proven ways to grow the customer base of your company. 

1, Do an amazing job, be the best in what you do

This should go without saying. The best way to increase repeat business and retain customers, as well as to get referrals is doing an amazing job for your clients.

2, Referral and affiliate programs

Asking your happy customers to refer your company is a super cost-efficient, yet effective way to acquire new clients. With social proof and trust already developed when being referred, closing referral sales is significantly easier than warming up people who are entirely new to your brand.

3, Go strong on brand building campaigns

Ask any executives in large companies – their brand is among their biggest assets. Investing in your brand is not a short-term process. In order to grow your brand awareness, shape your brand perceptions and get into the mind of your customers, you will need extensive advertising campaigns running continuously.

4, Offer free services on your website

Offering simple yet useful services is a proven way to get new customers involved with your brand. Most startups do it by offering online tools with limited functionality – something that does not cost them nearly anything to deliver, yet brings value to potential customers.

This is a great way to offer a freed sample of your work and introduce new people to your brand experience. Not every one of them will become a buyer, but chances are high that they will refer you if your free stuff was impressive.

5, Do regular market research to connect with potential customers

When collecting feedback from potential customers, your brand is getting exposed to people who are very much in the market for your products and services. 

Not only this but asking a question about their opinions and preferences tells them that your company does care about their customers – and this typically makes a very good first impression.

This advantage of market research has been long recognized by leading international brands, which is another reason why they are continuously running market research campaigns.

Stay in touch with your customers, but don’t become annoying

Keep your customers involved. Send them product updates, do a simple survey from time to time, launch a referral program, anything that they will benefit from.

After some time, you will notice which communication channels work both for you and your community. Focus on 1 or 2 instead of trying hard to be present everywhere.

What to do when people do not buy or engage with your content?

If you face issues with getting traction converting or engaging customers then you should audit your brand, business concept, or marketing communications.

In most cases, customers will not connect with your brand because of major business concept issues, or branding problems that make it impossible for them to like or trust your company.

Do not make your customers feel that they are part of an automated system

Whatever you do, do not make your customers feel like that they are bombarded with communication. This is a big mistake many companies do – sending daily automated emails will alienate your potential buyers very fast.

Recent market research results confirm this:

  • 87% of regular online buyers said that receiving more than one email a week from a company is annoying
  • 64% of regular online customers said that they will unsubscribe from all communications of a company and ignore them if they receive too many emails

Similarly, do not try to force them into Facebook or LinkedIn groups, those things are uncool in most cases. The only reason you should invite people to groups is if your community there is already very active and your customers would benefit from being part of it. But asking them to join your group just to bombard them with discounts and offers is a big no-no.

In case you want to measure how people perceive your marketing communications, you can do a Marketing Communications Audit.

Just make it attractive to buy from you and be there for them afterward. Simple as that.

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