“Make new friends but keep old ones; one is silver and one is gold. These lyrics, from one of my favorite Girl Scout campfire songs, are a good reminder that even though we appreciate our existing customers, it is also important to constantly cultivate new ones.
“New Friends and Old Friends” is actually a 19th century poem that includes the chilling lines, “Old friends, alas, may die; new friends must provide them with room. And though we hope mortality n That’s not the reason, some of our customer base will constantly leave as they age, move away from active shopping, move away, or develop needs or interests that our product selection doesn’t serve. no doubt also customers in favor of online competition or other stores.
It’s easy to get into the habit of directing most of your marketing efforts to existing customers. Permission-based emails and social media posts are great for keeping in touch with them, but not necessarily effective for recruiting new ones. Here are some ideas you could try:
- Cooperate with your neighboring businesses to encourage their customers to come to your store. You can organize joint events or offer them a coupon to distribute.
- Encourage your customers to vote for you in reward and popularity polls. Who wouldn’t want to visit the store chosen as “Best of ___”?
- Participate in efforts to welcome newcomers to your community, perhaps through local real estate companies.
- Use a tagline in your promotions to make it clear what you’re selling. You want those unfamiliar with your store to be intrigued and want to know more.
- Provide a tempting overview of your store and its inventory on your website for those who check you out online first.
- Give gift cards to every local charity you want to support. You can even give them to any potential customer – this idea is explained by Bill Negen of WhizBang Training in a video for the Gift and Home channel in 2011. (Just substitute the word gift card whenever it says certificate -gift.)
- Boost your social media posts/reels, or use paid ads, so your Facebook and Instagram promotions reach those who don’t already follow you.
- Nothing beats word of mouth! Your existing customers are your best ambassadors. You can reward customers who bring a friend with a charitable donation, free gift, or gift card. Check out this article in the Raffle Press blog for more ideas on this topic.
In order to turn new customers into repeat buyers, you need to make sure they have a great experience. Ask your staff to make everyone who walks into your store feel welcome and sincerely thank them if they make a purchase.
Carol “Orange” Schroeder