Customers today are faced with more options to choose from than ever before. As a result, it has become increasingly challenging to gain customers and obtain their loyalty to secure repeat purchases. This has called an end to the era of product and service focus, as customers are now drawn in by solutions. The more in tune a business is to resolving its’ customer’s pain points, the more likely they are to acquire and retain loyal clients.
In the African context; with a special focus on Small, Micro and Medium enterprises (SMME’s), identifying customers may be relatively easy. The business owner may simply look at the current customer base, their purchasing or consumption behavior and drive products and services that tune in to their needs and wants. The greater potential though; is in tapping into the needs of the customers that purchase irregularly and can potentially be switched.
If a business aims to thrive in this very competitive environment, there are a few strategic decisions that it can make:
1. Start with the basics:
Having a clear brand identity helps a business to be more recognizable and memorable to the current client base, but it also makes the brand more appealing to potential new clients. Elements such as an appealing logo, an informative website as well as interactive and engaging content on Social Media is vital in keeping a brand top of mind. This should reflect a clear product range or service offering that directly relevant to its customer base.
2. Have a niche:
The temptation for SMME’s may be to cater for as many clients as possible simply to create volume for the business. The mentality may be that the greater the assortment, the greater the potential to convert sales. The down side of this business strategy is that it waters down the business objective and scatters the customer focus. Having a niche creates a clear focus in the business that drives more impact on volume as well as value.
3. Incentivize current clients:
“Word of Mouth” is still one of the most valuable tools to use to convert outliers to be clients. Having someone that has purchased or used the product or service carries a lot of value in the minds of the people that are receiving the referral and actively seeking a solution to a similar problem. A business can leverage its current client base through testimonials, reviews and referrals to increase its current client base.
4. Set Targets and track them:
There is an adage that says, “What gets measured grows”. This is very true when you consider that if a business does not have clear goals, there is no way to measure if it is successful or not. It is very important to have Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely (SMART) goals and track them regularly.
The way that one has always done business is not necessarily the only way that it can be done. Do not be afraid to experiment. There is a lot more flexibility to experiment for SMME’s than there is with big business. That holds opportunity for success and growth that is insurmountable. As Albert Einstein is widely credited with saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” Do something new!
Every big business started small. It was an idea in an entrepreneur’s mind that took years to build, mold and nourish. Staying close to your customers business needs, wants and preferences is key to creating solutions that suit them more distinctly. This creates loyalty and allows the business to be more versatile in proactively catering to any changes that take place in their respective industries. Setting goals for growth and tracking progress helps to inform the tactics used to acquire new clients and becoming the supplier of choice.
Dimakatso Moloantoa is a Marketer by profession and by passion. She has a Bcom degree in Marketing Management from the University of Pretoria (TUKS) and a BPhil (Hons) from the Institute of Marketing Management (IMM). She is currently doing her Masters in Marketing Management (MPhil) through the Institute of Marketing Management.
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