How Do You Develop a Customer Base in a Small Business?

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There are over 5 million employers with less than 500 employees, and naturally, not all of their customer base development strategies are equally effective. In any category of business, being able to build up a loyal customer base should be among the top priorities.┬áNo matter what is being offered, it will be the social proof gained from testimonies from a satisfied customer base that propels an unknown small business into true relevance. The following are some of the best principles for developing a small business’s customer base.

Develop an Ideal Buyer Persona

Before the supply must come the demand, and knowing the greatest demand for what you supply must begin with knowing the buyer persona in and out, according to HubSpot. An ideal buyer is a highly specific kind of individual who most strongly represents the needs, wants and challenges faced by those who would appreciate your business the most. An ideal buyer profile is made up of accurate information regarding the ideal buyer’s most likely age, occupation, gender, hobbies, and other personally identifying variables.

Establish the When, Where and How Factors of Ideal Buyer Engagement

In addition to knowing who the ideal buyer is, you’ll need to have a strong sense of how they regularly consume information about new products, where they usually go to discover said information, and when the best time to reach the majority of them would be. Is the ideal buyer more likely to hear about a business such as yours through mobile videos or blog posts? Is the ideal buyer more active in the morning or evening? Can you reach them with the help of an influencer that they follow?

Instead of taking a shotgun approach and spending exorbitant amounts of advertising funds to be everywhere at once, whittle down pinpoint standards for timing and placement to reach your ideal buyers at the perfect time and place.

Use Giveaways to Build Exposure and Inspire Trust

Before waves of purchases can be effortlessly gained on no more than the business’s own reputation, genuine trust needs to be developed at the lowest possible stake for the ideal buyer. With free giveaways in the earliest stages of promotion, the most potentially valuable prospects will be more likely to discover and willingly test the value of the product for themselves.

In addition to potentially compelling thousands of curious people in the target market to see the value of the businesses’ products without pushy advertisements, giveaways also have high potential to go viral through word of mouth.

Create a Sense of Community and Customer Loyalty Incentives

The most loyal customer bases are developed when small business has successfully created a strong sense of community around its brand. Customers who feel that their status as a buyer makes them part of an exclusive “in-group” will have a stronger sentimental attachment to the brand, and this effect can be strengthened through strategically-designed customer loyalty incentives.

Customer loyalty rewards should accompany a message that identifies buyers as valued individuals. Showing appreciation for frequent buyers by making them feel uniquely entitled to valuable incentives will create a strong positive reinforcement effect. Incentives will enhance the sense of value that customers get out of belonging to the select group of individuals that the business caters to.

Consistently Provide Customers and Prospects Alike with Product-Agnostic Value

An ideal buyer isn’t simply a small business’s customer, but an aficionado of the business’s very niche. Small businesses can drive far more leads by positioning themselves as sources of valuable content relevant to their niches; this can be done through well-crafted blog posts, infographics, videos and podcasts. With non-salesy content, small businesses owners establish themselves benefactors and subject experts rather than simply sellers.

Related Resource: How Does a Small Business Receive a Corporate Grant?


Not only can a successfully-maintained customer base be instrumental in helping a business build up its initial momentum, but its most loyal customers can provide a lifetime of value by consistently acting as promoters of the product out of genuine belief in its value.┬áDevelop an ideal buyer profile, lock down the logistics for reaching them effectively, don’t shy away from giveaways, positively reinforce customer loyalty, and have brand serve as a reputable source of high-quality content in its niche.

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