By Beatrix Potter

Customer development is incredibly important, especially for startup companies. Businesses simply can’t survive and expand without a loyal consumer base that consistently buys their products or services. Customer development is about more than trying to get a five-star review online. It’s about identifying possible customers, figuring out how to reach them, and becoming a useful and unique fixture in the marketplace. Loyal customers not only return to buy products from your company, but they’re also unofficial brand ambassadors. This article will help you figure out how to create new and returning customers.

New Customers
Many experts recommend a 3 part strategy for attracting potential customers when you’re a relatively unknown startup company. The first step is to get attention. It goes without saying that you can’t attract customers when no one knows about your company, so you have to somehow put yourself in front of people. You can either take a paid approach to try to rank higher in search results when people search for more well-known competitors, or you can take the free approach. This involves writing content about your competitors that people are searching for and adding your product in the content. This can be as simple as writing comparison posts where your competitors’ names come up often but which promotes your product.

Once you have the attention of your prospective consumers, you need to differentiate yourself from the competition. You can do this through pricing, by being the cheapest option or having more user-friendly payment plans or one-time payments instead of subscriptions. Another way to stand out is to promote product features that your competitors are lacking, through easy to understand graphs and comparison charts. Finally, location is another option for standing-out, especially for brick-and-mortar stores or those who offer deliveries and shipping to multiple regions and countries.

The final step of this strategy is to convince these people to take action and commit to your company. Amber Woods, a marketer at Academized and Writing Services, explains that “this can be done either by having deadlines and limited-time offers to foster a sense of urgency or having a return policy which allows customers the opportunity to try your service or product at no financial risk to themselves.”

Return Customers
Return customers are the lifeblood of companies, especially startups, as it’s been proven to be more useful to cultivate existing customer relationships rather than expand to new customers. There are many ways that businesses can ensure their customers are loyal and repeat buyers. The first and most obvious tip is to stay in touch after the initial sale so you can continue to build the relationship. This can be done through social media, email newsletters, and deals. Be careful you don’t cross the line into being too communicative, which can be annoying. It’s also important to give them reasons and opportunities to shop with you again, by offering new or refined products and communicating updates to your client base on a regular basis.

Another important aspect of customer retention is the actual customer service experience. It’s critical to have the right people in your customer service team so every interaction is positive and helpful. Even if your product is great, a customer who has a poor interaction with your team is unlikely to remain loyal. Bob Hayworth, a project manager at Studentwritingservices and UKWritings, suggests that “the baseline should be a friendly, personalized and efficient service – it can be as simple as remembering people’s names and being attentive listeners and interested in their experience. You also have to make it easy for these customers to reach you. Try to avoid having long and complex phone menus, and return messages quickly.”

The final tip for cultivating a good relationship with returning customers is to show them your appreciation. Surprise them in little ways, like addressing them by name in communications, send them a gift on their birthday, or offer loyalty discounts. You can also send rewards or thank yous for referral, and don’t underestimate the power of a heartfelt thank you after an in-person interaction. Building these relationships take time and effort, but the rewards for your business are well worth the investment.

Beatrix Potter is a lifestyle blogger at Top Custom Writing Services and UK writing services reviews. She’s interested in marketing and business solutions for small companies and loves getting involved in different projects. Beatrix writes articles on customer relationships and marketing campaigns for the Coursework Help blog.