You may be making a solid living off of one type of customer, so you may hesitate to move out of that sweet spot. However, what if your target demographic’s needs change? Or if your industry experiences radical change requiring you to shift your focus? Or you lose those one or two customers who make up a huge chunk of your sales?
Could your business withstand those losses? Diversifying your customer base — that is, doing what it takes to attract a new kind of buyer — makes you more resilient and profitable.
Here are six steps to diversify your customer base, increasing your chances of long-term success.
1. Evaluate Your Business
Take an honest look at your operations, marketing tactics, website, and so on. Is there anything about how you conduct business that could be pushing away customers from different demographics? For example, you could be turning off millennials if you have no website or social media presence.
2. Take a Look at the “Faces” of Your Business
Are all of your employees just like you? If so, you could be attracting customers who are just like you as well. Hire a diverse staff, ranging in age, ethnicity, and backgrounds. Those employees can offer insight in how to reach different types of customers. With a diverse staff, you are more likely to attract a diverse clientele.
If you are a one-person company, you may be the only face of your organization. However, regardless of the number of people you employ, you can make sure that your website, marketing materials, social media images, and so on represent a diverse group of people.
3. Revisit Your Products
Developing an entirely new product — or simply tweaking your current core product — is one way to attract a new demographic. For years the NFL has been trying to attract more women and recently has found success largely through merchandising, offering everything from clothing in cuts and sizes that flatter women along with jewelry. How can you tweak or expand your products or services to appeal to a new demographic? One way to attract millennials, to go back to our our earlier example, is to develop apps and use gamification tactics.
4. Alter Your Outreach Strategies
You might need to make a change in how you find new customers. If you rely on social media, for example, start cold calling. If you typically run ads on the local rock radio station, run one on the country station instead. If you opt for newspaper ads over TV ads, flip the script if you can afford it. You’ll expand your reach and put your products and services in front of people who have never heard of you.
5. Attend Events You Haven’t Considered Before
It’s typical — and advisable — to attend trade shows, conferences, and other events relevant to your industry. Doing so provides a great way to network and promote your business. However, if you want to target new, different customers, you need to consider showing up at the types of events they attend.
Set up booths, commit to speak, or simply attend and introduce yourself to as many people as possible. Make sure you tailor your marketing and speaking messages specifically to that particular demographic and talk about why your product is suitable for attendees.
6. Build Alliances With Other Businesses
Partnering, even informally, with similar businesses to yours is one way to expand your customer base. However, to begin targeting a new demographic, you want to form alliances with businesses that target that demographic — even if the business is not similar to yours. For example, a catering business that largely targets corporations could offer a discount to the customers of a salon that caters to affluent clients who are likely to throw lavish parties requiring catering services.
Just remember that the alliance must be mutually beneficial, so when you approach another business owner, talk about how you can benefit his or her business. For example, the two of you could swap email lists or promote one another in exchange for a cut of the sales. You could attach each other’s coupons to marketing messages or slip them in direct-mail packages.
If you want to diversify your client base, you have to spend some time studying the new demographic and learn its buying habits and interests so that you can tweak your marketing message and possibly your products for the greatest appeal. Then test the waters before you dive in to ensure that you target the right customers at the right time. It’s possible that your products and services just won’t appeal to certain demographics, and that’s OK. Instead, focus your time, money, and energy on the customers who will buy from you.