Challenges to Get Customers in 2010 — And How to Overcome Them

The National Federation of Retailers (NFR) held its annual expo in New York City on January 10-13, 2010. NFR reported holiday sales were a little better than in the prior year, but were certainly not good by any standard.

Customers today are weary of the recession, saddled with debt, and still uncertain about their jobs. Looking ahead, this paints a poor picture of buyers.

Still, there are a number of things you can do to improve customer attraction and retention, and your sales.

  1. Do a better job of finding out what your customers want. This will enable you to target your marketing more effectively. How to find out? One way is to track what customers are viewing on your website if you’re willing to invest in the technology. Another is just to ask them. Dominos Pizza for example, has turned customer complaints about their crust, sauce, and cheese into a new product (“inspired pizza”) and a new marketing campaign showing them as people who listen to their customers.
  2. Keep up your marketing efforts. Reach out to your customers and prospects through Twitter and other social media venues. Also, do targeted email marketing.
  3. Find out what’s working in your industry. What innovations are being used in your industry to attract and retain customers? Check for new items and processes that are now available. Look for low-tech solutions that may be desired by customers, such as longer hours or 24-7 access to a customer representative.
  4. Ask for customer reviews. Post testimonials on your site because they work. According to Nielsen’s Global Online Consumer Survey, 90% of consumers online trust recommendations by people they know and 70% trust opinions of unknown users. Alternative: Use a star-rating system such as the one you’ll find on Blue Nile.  

Small business owners who feel overwhelmed by the prospect of doing marketing themselves should consider engaging a professional to help. While this can be costly, it may be a necessary expense for 2010.

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