It is a forgone conclusion that most businesses are looking for new
customers. Of course, you know I mean customers to include patients, referral
sources, influencers. Ask any O&P business, “What does your business
need most?” and the top three answers could be: more customers, more
paying customers, and more long-term customers.
Ask yourself two questions. First, why do your existing customers come
to you? Then, ask yourself if you were a potential customer of your business,
why would you want to become a customer…or not? If not, why not? If yes,
why? Answers to these questions may help you figure out what you’re doing
right and what you’re doing wrong.
Many businesses say they want more customers, but they are really inward
looking. They don’t promote themselves and they may not provide much value
to their current customers or that value may not be perceived. And they
aren’t always having fun. You know how I feel about the importance of fun!
Once you solve these issues, how do they find new customers? If your business
provides value and fun, word of mouth kicks in and that makes it easier for
your business to grow.
So, your mission, if you choose to accept it is to determine:
Are you promoting your business?
Are you providing value?
Are your customers having fun?
The best place to start? Your existing customers. Why worry about what
new customers might want if you haven’t even checked with your existing
customers as to why they came to you in the first place and why they’ve
stayed with you?
I recently had a conversation with an organization looking to increase
its overall membership and membership participation in the organization. This
is the homework assignment I gave them. It’s easy to promote an
organization that provides value and whose members are having fun. The key is
to actually be providing value and fun. It’s not so easy to promote an
organization that isn’t sure what its value is or what fun means to its
members and, more importantly, its potential members.
Know your data
Of course, figuring all of this out is going to take work. Actual data
collection is not nearly as fun and exciting as implementing a plan that you
already “know” should work. But trust me, the data collection will
come in handy. Surveys and focus groups are just two of the tools you can use.
Surveymonkey.com, constantcontact.com and zoomerang.com are all online survey
tools you can use to collect data.
Focus groups require a little more work. You might want to hire a
marketing professional but you could always check with your local college or
university to see if they have marketing graduate students that are available
to lead a focus group.
While data collection might not fun and sexy, it’s an important
step you should consider taking if you want to grow your business effectively.
— by Elizabeth Mansfield