How to target new customers without alienating your existing ones
By ATB Financial 19 August 2020 4 min read
Your business is successful, you have loyal customers, and now you’re ready to expand your business by broadening your market. But, how do you attract new customers while keeping your existing ones happy?
Even the big brands can get this wrong. Think fast food restaurants going gourmet or tween shops gone adult. Customers become alienated when they don’t feel that they can connect to a brand anymore.
By taking the time to narrow your focus and never forgetting your primary value, your business can expand its customer base, targeting new markets. Here are a few tips to consider before heading out in new directions.
Stay true to your business
When looking to expand, remember where you came from and what made you successful in the first place. Whether it’s a product or a service, keep sight of what your fundamental values and offerings are.
“If you’re going to appeal to different customer bases, you still have to know what your core competencies and values are as a brand,” says Aimee Parker, ATB Entrepreneur Strategist.
“And that shouldn’t change, regardless of whether you want to appeal to Customer A or Customer B; you’re still going to have similar values among all of your customer bases that should connect back to your core brand.”
Determine your target audience
Stick with this basic marketing concept when looking to expand your customer base: take time to learn about your potential customers and define who you want your business to appeal to. If you try to be all things to all people, you will resonate with none.
Ideally, your brand connects with your target audience because it offers something of value in a manner that resonates with them. Remember those core values when broadening your customer reach and craft your messaging accordingly.
Take an Alberta-based jewelry store as an example: The business’ primary clientele are women professionals between 30 and 40 years old, looking for classical pieces to accessorize their work wardrobe. Most of the business’ marketing targets this audience.
But the business also runs marketing campaigns during the holiday season, Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day targeting men. These cater to that secondary audience using different images and messaging, but ultimately sells the same product – while keeping its primary market in the forefront.
Find out what channels they use
Once you’ve identified your target audience, find out where they go to gather information so you can reach them effectively–and in a way they relate to. Do they rely on word of mouth from family and friends, do they watch commercials, do they go online?
The marketing channels your target audience uses will vary according to gender, age and income bracket. Instagram stories might appeal to millennials, Reddit to Gen Y, Pinterest to women between the ages of 25 and 45 and Facebook to Boomers.
Narrow down the channels to make your marketing efforts more effective.
Go directly to the source to gather insight
The easiest way to find out what influences your customers or potential customers is to get in front of them and ask. Ask them at the till as part of the payment process or conduct a survey, online or off.
Find out who and what influences their buying decisions–do they find new products or brands online through their social network or do they prefer to take suggestions from family and friends. Listening and learning from your customers can offer powerful insights to influence who you target and how.
“You have to figure out where your customers are hanging out, where will you get good, valuable and reliable insight back,” Aimee says.
Make no assumptions
Without a good understanding of what your prospective customer wants, your expansion plans could stall, no matter your brand recognition.
A cosmetic company once tried to launch a 10-step line of men’s skin care products, banking on their successful women’s products. But the strategy failed to consider that most men don’t relate to skin care products the way women do, as they generally look for something quick and simple.
“My biggest suggestion is you have to look at your business plan and look at it separately for each market that you are going into,” Aimee says. “Because you might have to create a marketing campaign on awareness in one market where in another market, your marketing plan could be deepening relationships with existing customers. The messaging and strategies are going to look very different between the two.”
Hold on to the basics
If you stay true to your core vision and brand (and do your research), it should resonate with a range of customers, despite their unique wants. While the basic offering remains the same, how they connect with your brand will differ.