As a small business, should I focus on gaining new customers, or repeat customers? Good question. The answer: Ideally, both.

A more complicated answer: As you grow your business, it can be difficult to focus on acquiring new customers and preserving current ones1. You have to choose which path to take: new or old customers? The decision is difficult, since both constitute growth. The biggest question is: How do you want to grow your customer base?

How to Choose

No matter which trail you choose to blaze, “getting new customers or earning repeat business from existing clients is a critical component of any small business wanting to establish itself and generate long term business success1.” Choosing to gather more or cultivate your current group is a very difficult decision. How should a small business handle customer acquisition?

First, how much growth can your store handle? Fast-paced growth will result in a huge increase of traffic, which can lead to stocking issues and the need to hire more employees. If a slower growth “in the 10 to 20 percent range1” is more appealing, cultivating repeat customers might be a better decision. The best choice should be based on how much your store can handle: a large influx, or a gradual increase.

Second, how much money can you put toward customer acquisition? Gaining new customers requires hosted events, lots of advertising, and extra marketing. Retaining customers requires good service and a show of customer appreciation. Make your choice based on how much you’re willing to put forward in time and money.

Pick a path and devote your advertising efforts toward it. Choose wisely. It is a game-changer either way.

New Customers

What attracts new customers? A good product and a user-friendly website are both excellent hooks. Have you considered personal invitations to events, or to visit your store? To attract new people to your store, you have to be creative. Maybe you should do something unique, like one of these ideas.

Advertise your heart out, and find MORE ways to advertise. Google search “creative advertising” to find ideas that will blow your mind. Believe it or not, some of these will bring customers to your store faster than you can say “come on in!”

For more advertising ideas, study the ads you find most effective. You can find many of them in magazines and on websites. Ask around to see which ones people like the most. Copy the best ones! Mimic the style, and you might find the advertising hook that your business needs to start bringing in the crowds. The trick is finding cost-effective methods that won’t empty your retirement fund (I wish you luck).

Advertising can be a clever, effective way to get your brand name out into the world. Get your name and brand online, offline, and anywhere you can manage. It’s all about being found! Help customers find your business by giving them a reason to spread the word.

Be creative, be nice, and be unique. When it comes to customer acquisition, it really makes a difference.

Loyal Customers

What are customers drawn to? Huge flashing signs might catch their eye, but they’re expensive and outdated. The real solution is simpler (and cheaper!). People are drawn to polite customer service that handles and resolves their issues quickly.

How do you appeal to your customers other than smiling, ringing them up, and helping them pack their bags? What makes them feel like they’re part of your store? It’s simple: You get to know them. The traditional meaning of customer service is: “The process of ensuring customer satisfaction with a product or service2.” True service goes beyond that (far, far beyond).

True customer service requires striving to meet the expectations your customers have. A big goal, I know! Customers expect to be heard. It’s important that every business owner listens to the comments, concerns, and requests that their customers have. 

Customer service and satisfaction are both vitally important. Compliment your customers by showing how much you appreciate them. 

Tip: A great way to shore up your customer retention rate is by using a loyalty program. Loyalty programs provide you with a way to connect your customers to your business. It shows them that they are part of something. They will be loyal to your store because their names are on your list. 

Continue to Grow

Many of these tips can be applied to acquiring new customers and keeping hold of current ones. While it’s tempting to focus on both new and repeat customers equally, it is more effective to emphasize one.

Grow your customer base with a new kind of focus. Customer acquisition can be a tricky thing! Good luck.

Have you found any of these methods useful? Tell us about it in the comments below!

1Information from: Small Business Finishing Touches: How To Get Repeat Business From Customers 2Customer Service Definition