There is always exhilaration when you’re at the phase of setting up your company, launching your products or services, inviting your family and friends to try them so they can share your business with their respective circles, and seeing your sales go through the roof for the first time. But reality sets in when you have already exhausted your networks and your list of potential leads has dried up. What if no one else is knocking on your door?
Entrepreneurs should gauge the situation first before making any decision so the solution they would implement is what they their target market needs. Research plays a vital part in generating leads. Sometimes, it can involve evaluating local economic forecasts, looking at regional and global startup trends, or simply getting quality feedback from your current client list to gauge if there is something you can improve to boost sales.
The reasons for the absence of new customers can be grouped into two: those you can control and those you cannot control.
Those you cannot control are:
- Evolving consumer taste in Singapore. Singaporeans are not the most loyal of consumers, said Lau Chuen Wei, executive director at the Singapore Retailers Association. This presents a challenge to entrepreneurs because keeping your sales funnel intact means being flexible enough to pace with consumer trends and adjust to what currently affects purchasing decision.
- Cutthroat competition. According to the Department of Statistics, the number of business formed in Singapore has increased from 6,064 in September 2015 to 6,533 in October 2015.
Imagine if half of the figure belongs to your niche or industry. But instead of dwelling on that, you may also look at the upturn of new business activities in Singapore as a sign that confidence in the country’s economy is not waning. You can take advantage of that. As for competition, what you can do as an entrepreneur is to raise the bar so you can stand out and keep up with your industry.
Meanwhile, those you can control are:
- Evaluation of products and services. Brand charisma is not enough to keep consumers coming back to you. Although business identity can boost your relationships with customers, it is more important is to get their feedback and identify the features or benefits that need upgrading or expansion to satisfy the needs of your market.
- Insufficient promotion. Maybe your products or services have cutting-edge components and premier capabilities, but your marketing is not reaching enough people and not all your customers actively promote your business.
You cannot say that people do not make purchases nowadays because statistics shows that consumer spending in Singapore has increased.
The things you can’t control can be addressed by leveraging those you can actually control. Plus you can factor in the repairable areas when you are addressing sales problems.
One way to resolve that is to actively solicit referrals.
The rise of referrals
Word-of-mouth marketing has evolved from simple conversations with friends into what drives today’s promotion of businesses online.
Think of viral content you know online and the hype around it that converts regular web surfers into actual consumers whether it’s for a movie, food products, or an international clothing brand invading Asia. This type of engagement is a high-risk, high-reward route that necessitates creative talent and flawless timing. This often requires funds too.
Startups attempting to inflate their reach without spending a lot of money can begin with simple yet methodical referral systems that can push your current customers a bit to help you get new ones.
Stay attuned to what makes your current customers happy.
If you have a restaurant in Singapore, you can give a customized mug with your logo to your customer and add two more mugs that are wrapped as gifts so you can encourage the customer to give them to two of his or her friends.
You might spend some money on the mugs but it is not as expensive as treating customers to a cruise vacation.
Online referral systems
Why do referral systems online work? Social Media Today reported that more than 50% of Millennials will rely on four or more sources for their purchasing decision and 92% express more confidence in information found online than other sources.
A successful online rewards system breathes through behavioral science, which in business is used to probe the response of people to certain subjects. In essence, the message of your referral system should seep into the motivation of your target consumer and touch their psyche.
For example, the referral systems employed by Dropbox and Uber are about making people winners because they get prizes in the form of additional storage space and ride credits after accomplishing simple challenges.
Referrals may also come in the form of new email subscribers or what is commonly known as email marketing. Take a look at The New York Time’s latest message to its subscribers:
To create a simple yet effective email marketing campaign, you need to make your content useful, develop a responsive design, and ensure that your action steps are easy and won’t require recipients go through a maze.
The simplicity and popularity of emails among people must be the reason why it remains as the most effective digital marketing tactic based on the survey conducted by Ascend2 and its research partners.
Moreover, people share content online that appeals to their emotions. They seem to be tired of traditional ads trying to twist their arms to buy products and services. Authenticity is reigning in surveys as one of the major factors that persuade people to patronize brands. In an article on
Authenticity is reigning in surveys as one of the major factors that persuade people to patronize brands.
In an article on The Economist, authenticity was defined by Interbrand, a consultant on branding, as “an internal truth and capability”, a “defined heritage” and a “well-grounded value set”. This means that authenticity reflects people’s emotions, surroundings, and values. Examples of content that can promote authenticity online are Facebook posts, blogs, infographics, photos, and videos.
Another way to capture new leads online is to distribute surveys to customers. It is like hitting two birds with one stone. Your questionnaire can get their feedback about your products or services. You would be able to determine what you should improve. For questions that gauge customer satisfaction, you can ask them if your product or service is something they would recommend to their friends. For online surveys, you can use Google Docs to design easy-to-use forms or Survey Monkey, a free online survey program.
The truth is every existing customer is a source of referral. One of the most convenient and practical ways to get a referral is to directly ask your customer, “do you know anyone who is struggling with [problem] and might need our assistance too?” But remember that only customers who are happy with your service will be willing to refer you to their friends.
Hence, all these cost-efficient methods to generate new leads are just structures. What is important is to ensure that its foundation—the quality of your products and services—is strong enough to get new people showing up at your door.
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