Your business is already established and successful, what a wonderful feeling that must be! As a fellow entrepreneur, I know how great it is to own a business. However, what do you see as you forecast the future growth and expansion of your business operations? As the owner of an existing business, it can be difficult to occupy a position of success and still maintain a cautious vision for the future. You’ve already taken all the difficult steps to grow your business, expand your product lines, and reach out to new customers. As a business owner, what steps can you take to expand your business online?
Take Advantage of New Sales and Delivery Channels
We’ll assume, for the sake of argument, that you already have an online presence. It could be as simple as a Facebook page for your business, or as complex as a dedicated website. However, whether you haven’t ventured online yet or haven’t expanded beyond social media, there’s no better time than the present to get online.
The Internet is the best option your business has for expanding into new sales channels and reaching customers around the globe. Even a small business can promote its brand well beyond the reach of its brick-and-mortar location by creating a dedicated website that is connected to various social media accounts.
Target New Customers
If you’ve already achieved a moderate level of success with your business, you undoubtedly have a target customer group that you rely on for sales. These dedicated customers represent both repeat shoppers and those in a niche (for example, 18-to-25-year-old males) who are most likely to purchase your products. If you want to expand your business, you can consider targeting new segments within the consumer market.
There are a lot of ways you can achieve this goal. Among the simplest, and most affordable, is to diversify the mediums through which your target consumers. If your primary target group is young males (as mentioned above), you undoubtedly rely upon social media and mobile advertising to reach these groups. However, your product or service might have equal appeal to older age groups in the male population, but social media is probably not the most effective medium to advertise through to reach that market.
You can also try two other approaches for targeting new customers. First off, you could try advertising your product or service to a completely different group. If you’ve previously focused your efforts only on young males, but believe that young females might also be interested, you need to discover ways of advertising that product to them in a manner that garners interest.
Second, you could create a new product or service to attract a different niche within the consumer marketplace. This will require time to research trending items and money to invest in a new product or service, but the reward would be an expanded target market and more revenue in the future.
Give Customers Incentive
Your existing customer base is the primary place you should look to when seeking to grow your existing business online. These consumers have powered your growth to this point, are loyal to your products and brand, and are the most likely consumers to continue buying from you in the long term. However, we all get tired of the same dog-and-pony show after a while.
Giving your existing customer base incentives to make more frequent purchases is a great tool for expanding your business. If you operate in a service industry, you can incentivize your existing consumers by promoting add-on services, upgrades, or premium offerings. This is a great way to introduce your customers to new services that you are just rolling out. By offering those new services at a reduced rate as part of a package deal, you generate buzz about that new service.
If you operate in a product industry, you can use the same approach to promote a new product. Running special promotions that offer loyal customers a 20% discount on the purchase of a new product when they spend X amount of money during their next visit gives them a chance to test a new product without paying full price in the process.
Educate Your Customers
If you really want to expand your business online and increase your potential revenue stream, you need to educate your customers about the other products and services your company offers. Education doesn’t have to mean beating them over the head with information about those offerings either. The idea of education is more about raising awareness of your other offerings than it is about aggressively promoting them.
Use all the tools at your disposal to promote your other products and services with creativity. You can use blog posts explaining a new service, YouTube videos to demonstrate a product, post photos of products in action with real customers, or even host webinars that allow others in your industry to ask questions about your product lineup. Whatever you do, avoid boring your consumers with your education efforts.
Offer Consistent Value
Perhaps the most important thing you can do to expand your existing business online is continue to offer consistent value to your customers. You will not only lose your current consumer base, but you’ll fail to attract new customers if you can’t provide them with value they can count on every time they shop with your business.
This applies not only to your products and services, but also to your promotional efforts. Of course those items should offer value to your consumers, but so should your online and offline promotions. If you are constantly barraging your customer base with one new promotion after another, your company can come off looking cheap. You risk looking like a company that will run any promotion just to make a buck.
Instead, maintain a solid focus on building a good relationship with your existing customers, while taking moderate steps to reach out to new customers at the same time. A balanced approach creates an atmosphere in which your existing customers feel a sense a loyalty to your brand and trust your products, while you steadily expand your brand image to attract new consumers.