Appealing to new markets is essential to growth. We’re constantly looking for ways to attract new consumers. So we’ve compiled our top five tips in the hope we can share our experience to date.
Firstly you don’t need to entice new customers through money off vouchers and special prices. If you already offer great value for money, this strategy will only serve to threaten your already precarious bottom line. Just make it easy for them to do business with you.
We identified organisations managed by the local authority as a great niche market — they consume cartridge after cartridge of ink. However these institutions don’t always have access to credit cards. So we amended our credit system to allow us to approve credit accounts for them specifically within 30 minutes. That way, from day one, it’s very easy for them to do business with us — and we have given them every reason to return.
In all likelihood, if you’re an online business, you’re probably already servicing a market by virtue of being accessible to all. You’re just not focusing on them. We recently launched a 3D competition aimed at the creative industries for that reason. We knew that designers use our products but we wanted to make ourselves their supplier of choice. We created a challenge that gave them access to 3D printing technology — currently a medium out of their price range. As a result we got lots of new business from the design community.
Talk to your customer base. You can survey them unobtrusively and mine them for information that could help you service their needs more successfully.
When you’re online, moving into Europe is often seen as an easy step. The fact is, if you have a niche product that benefits from little competition and low customer service levels, it is. Especially when Google makes it so easy to advertise. But there are potential obstacles — including the logistics of delivery and language barriers.
Ian Cowley is the managing director of Cartridge Save.
Another Budget, another wave of promises of ‘support’ and shiny initiatives. This year, as the Wordle shows, the Chancellor talked a lot about the state of the ‘economy’ and focused his initiatives on ‘business’ rather more than families or public services. This is a Budget about ‘people’, ‘jobs’, ‘recovery’, the ‘country’ at large.
‘Tax’ looms largest, though, but not because there’s a lot of it. Quite the opposite: the Chancellor was very keen to stress that he wouldn’t be raising taxes - at least not for those of us on low-to-middle incomes. If you’re a banker or a non-domicile, though, you’d better get ready to dip onto your pockets.
Does this mean this a ‘Robin Hood’ Budget? If it were truly a ‘rob from the rich to fund the poor’ affair, then you might expect the ten per cent duty increase to be on grapes rather than apples. In case you didn’t pick up on it, cider is being ‘redefined’ so that it is subject to the same duty increases as all other alcoholic drinks.
For the small business, the clues are in the words ‘bank, ‘Bank’, banks’, ‘banking’ and ‘credit’. The Chancellor is making an extra £41 billion available as lending to small businesses via Lloyds and the Royal Bank of Scotland. He has also promised a Small Business Credit Adjudicator whose role will be to decide whether small firms have been unfairly turned down for loans.
After all, it is small business in particular that will ‘fuel’ ‘growth’, ‘increase’ ‘jobs’ and ‘pay’ for the ‘future’. But, as the Wordle shows, they may need quite a lot of ‘help’ to do that.
I absolutely love this time of year. As the clock starts to climb down to the end of 2009 I can feel a real sense of optimism. My renewed sense of buoyancy is partly down to our customers: working in the ecommerce industry the four weeks leading up to Christmas are their busiest. 2009 was a very tough year for all of us but there are plenty of reasons to be cheerful in 2010.
However, success doesn’t come without hard work and I am determined to make 2010 a successful one! Within this post I want to air my three new year’s resolutions for the business.
Do less, better
It may sound obvious, but for any business to success everyone has to be pulling in the right direction. However the start of a new year is a great time to sit back and review if you are pulling in too many directions.
It’s far too easy to do too much. If you’re anything like me I hate turning down projects and opportunities. However doing lots badly isn’t a strategy for success. Doing 100 mediocre things with your business will only make you 100 times more average. Focus, pick a project, do it well and complete it, even if this means you turn down 99 other things.
Talk to more people
The core driver of any business is customers. Customers, like puppies, are not just for Christmas - they need to feel loved and appreciated all year. My second resolution is to speak to as many of my customers as I humanly can. I want to find out how they tick, how their business works, and most importantly why they are my customer and not someone else’s. Anyone in a decision-making capacity within your business should be speaking to customers, not just sales and support.
One of my sporting heroes is the amazing Rebecca Romero. If you don’t know who she is, Google her, she is inspirational. Romero has won two Olympic medals in two different sports: rowing and cycling. And because of rule changes it looks like she will need to find a third sport to compete in for 2012. I want my business to be like Rebecca Romero, consistently excellent but not afraid to adapt.
Why only three resolutions, well it would be impossible to complete the first one with a list longer than my arm. What are you going to do in 2010 to improve?