Customer network: Creating and growing

To win new purchasers, you need to start a conversation with your target audience—either in person, via the Internet or on the phone.

A consumer rarely makes a purchase on his or her first contact with a business or company. Companies have to use every opportunity that helps increase encounters with their target audience, builds a relationship with that audience and, ideally, converts that audience into customers.

  • Conferences, professional association meetings, trade shows and networking events are all opportunities to meet potential customers when you operate in the business-to-business segment.
  • For companies directing their sales at the general public, festivals, community events, sports events or even the street present opportunities to come into contact with a large number of people very quickly.
  • On the Internet, social networks represent a good vector for contacting potential customers. It is more effective to encourage them to add your company or product to their virtual circle than to add them to yours.
  • It is also sometimes worthwhile contacting people by phone. It is much easier to ignore an e-mail than to hang up on someone at the end of the line.
  • Putting together a directory, including as much data as possible about these potential customers, is a crucial step. It should also be updated on a regular basis.

First impressions

Entrepreneurs have very little time to convince contacts to become customers. During a meeting in person, they have about 20 seconds before the contact’s attention wanders. Online, they have 20 words. During a presentation, 50 words. Here is how to optimize this time:

  • Call people by their name, so they feel involved.
  • Say their name and repeat it, so that you remember it.
  • If you have a connection with someone (a mutual acquaintance, for example), it is important to mention it.
  • Give a concise, interesting and specific description of the reason for your contact. Avoid listing all the features of your product or service or using technical terms. Focus instead on the benefits for your contact.
  • Ask questions to stimulate interaction. Avoid questions requiring a “yes” or “no” answer. Listen to the answers.
  • Anticipate any questions and plan an appropriate reply that refers to the advantages of your offering.
  • If the situation lends itself to it, get the contact information of the person and/or provide your own.

The cost of a new customer

It is possible for entrepreneurs to calculate the cost of acquiring a new customer. To do this, they need to:

  • Calculate the total cost of their marketing effort over the previous 12 months (ads, promotions, public relations, brochures, etc.).
  • Deduct the share of these costs used to reward or issue reminders to loyal customers (loyalty schemes, newsletters, etc.).
  • Divide the figure reached by the number of new customers the company has attracted in the past 12 months.

Source: Small Business Marketing Kit For Dummies, Barbara Findlay Schenck, John Wiley & Sons Inc, 2012.

Last modification 29.04.2021

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