Although it may be stating the obvious, recent studies are showing that small business owners realize that customers are the most important factor for a healthy and successful business. However, while developing new clientele is crucial and an ongoing endeavor, being able to retain them (as well as maintaining the existing customer base), is just as important.
A recent series of surveys are delivering insight into what is of foremost concern for small business owners. The surveys, and their results, include:
- Constant Contact (March 2015) – 66 percent of those surveyed said their most important objective was developing new customers; maintaining the existing customer base was cited by 40 percent of the respondents as most important.
- Zogby Analytics (December 2014) – More than 60 percent of respondents identified growing the customer base as their primary concern.
- The Alternative Board (March 2015) – Almost half (48 percent) of those questioned said customers drive their success and have identified finding new and maintaining repeat business as a fundamental goal.
- Ebiquity (Spring 2015) – 38 percent of those surveyed said maintaining the existing the client base and revenue stream was a top priority; business growth followed closely behind with about one-third (34 percent) pointing to this as key for the year.
As far as the best approaches for developing leads and attracting new business, BrightLocal’s November 2014 survey found that small business owners think the most effective marketing channel for attracting new business is word-of-mouth (28 percent), with search engine optimization (20 percent), online directories, and email marketing (15 and 10 percent, respectively) filling the top four slots.
When queried about keeping customers, almost sixty percent of small business owners said that establishing and developing relationships with them is the key to success; having low prices or a great location were minor concerns and tied for a distant second, cited by only 11 percent of those surveyed (Braun Research, March 2015).
While growing a business relies strongly on building a customer base, being able to develop relationships with customers is the cement that holds it in place. Those that fail to do so risk being forced out of the marketplace by businesses with an aggressive plan that addresses these elements.
BrightLocal. “37% of SMBs plan to spend more on internet marketing in 2015,” January 7, 2015.
eMarketer. “How Can Small Businesses Get, and Keep, Clients?” May 11, 2015.