As a home-based business owner and maker, it can sometimes feel daunting to reach customers outside your circle of influence. With craft shows you are limited to whoever shows up that day. With online shops, you rely on returning customers, referrals, and social media channels. If you are looking for fresh ideas for attracting clients, we can help. Here are several creative ways to grow your customer base.
Creative Ways to Grow Your Customer Base:
Partner with a Locally Owned Business
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As a small business owner, you may not have the resources to open your own stand-alone business, but why not partner with someone who has? Most towns have locally owned shops and stores that will be delighted to support local makers. Approach the owners to discuss possibilities for collaboration. My sister makes her own line of clothing at Free Rose Studio. She works with local businesses to sell her handmade items in their shops, and this has not only helped her make more sales, but it has also increased her brand’s visibility. Building partnerships with other small business owners can help both of you grow your customer base.
Pop up shops are temporary retail spaces. They might last a weekend or a month or longer. Many big name brands, as well as smaller local makers, have utilized pop up shops to propel a new product. A pop-up shop is a great option if your products are too large for partnering with a local business, if you have a lot of product to sell, and if you have the resources to rent and run a business space. A pop-up shop is about 80% cheaper to rent than a traditional retail store, and it gives you the chance to test out the market while meeting customers face to face. The Storefront is one tool you can use to find a pop-up shop in your area that meets your budget and needs.
Several makers and small businesses have found success by holding auctions on Facebook. Jens Little Terrors is a home based business for an artist who sells one of a kind creepy dolls. She posts her dolls for sale on Facebook via auctions. There are several benefits to using Facebook for selling. For starters, the platform is free so there are no fees to pay when the auction ends. Secondly, as people comment on your auction to bid, their friends will see their activity, helping you reach a wider audience. The more people participate, the larger market you will reach.What an easy way to grow your business!
To have a successful Facebook auction, be sure to advertise it in advance. Be sure to have auction rules clearly stated, like the ones pictured in the image above. Be sure to state the rules on each picture in the auction. If you are concerned about running an auction on your own, there are apps and businesses that can help you run a Facebook auction on your business page.
Partner with a Non-Profit
Local non-profits are always eager to work with businesses for their fundraisers, galas, and other events. If there is a local cause or group that you wish to support, consider teaming up with them to offer a portion of your sales to their cause. For example, if you sell pet products, you could donate 10% of all your sales for the month to your local chapter of the Humane Society for animals. The non-profit organization will promote your business, driving new customers and sales your way. Not only can you build and grow your customer base, but you can also raise funds for a project you care about. It’s a win-win.
Sponsor a Local Event
City, community, and non-profit groups organize a variety of events year round, and they often need sponsors. Public schools will host events like fun runs, and cities will organize festivals around the holidays. Joining as a sponsor for a local event usually grants you loads of free advertising. Your business might be listed on a sign at the event, posted on a t-shirt, or named on a flyer. Attendees and community members will appreciate your support, and the bonus advertising doesn’t hurt, either.
Almost every town, no matter how large or small, has a library or community center in it. These local hubs are a wonderful way to meet people. I teach a monthly crafting class at my local library, and charge a nominal fee to cover supplies. I always bring a stack of business cards with me when I teach and give them out freely. Students who enjoy the class are always eager to take a card so they can visit my website and keep up with my work. It’s not unusual for them to ask to take a few extra cards to share with a friend “who will love” my work. It’s flattering and a fun way to gain new clients.
As you can see, there are many different ways to attract more customers. What are some of your favorite ways to grow your customer base?