Hi Everyone!  I hope that you are enjoying spring!  Summer is (officially) right around the corner, though it’s already been in the 90s and 100s here.

From talking to friends and other business owners, it seems that everyone is looking for business advice especially with our slowly recovering economy.  How can I attract new customers, and once they make their first purchases, how can I keep them coming back?

These days shoppers are being even more selective with what they purchase.  They will think twice, three times, or even ten times more (myself included) before clicking “purchase” because they want to know that their money will be well spent.  Is this item what I think it will be?  Is it worth this investment?

Recently I went to a nail spa and got a spa mani and pedi.  A new extra that the spa included was offering neck, shoulder and upper-back massages during your manicure, even while you are already seated in a massage chair.  It was just a brief 5-minute massage, but it made a difference for me, such that even though I only get them a few times a year (I usually do my own at home), I am seriously considering going back sooner because they made it worth it for me.

Here are 5 tips for business owners.  They are ones that keep customers coming back.  I’ve gathered them from my own experiences and others:

Throw in little extras.  Samples, discount coupons, a handwritten note.  All of these items are nice touches and make a customer feel good about spending their money with you.

Ship as quickly as possible, always.  I have found that some sellers begin taking long periods of time to ship items after you’ve developed a regular relationship with them.  It seems that they can get relaxed, and delay shipping since you are not a new customer.  However, business is still business, and every customer should always be treated like an important one.  Also, regular customers appreciate continued samples, too. 🙂

Devote a certain portion of your time to developing new products, scents, designs, etc.  Customers are always looking for something new while they are committed to the tried and true.  Newness brings new excitement about your offerings.  Keep things fresh and alive.

Poll your customers on what they want.  A seller I know recently gave away a gift certificate in a drawing.  Everyone who entered had to tell her what they’d like to see her make next.  It was a simple idea, but imagine how many great ideas she got for offering a $25 certificate?  This works great if you’re out of ideas at the moment, or if you have so many that you do not know how to prioritize them.  This way, too, if for instance 30 people enter the drawing, you can get a sense of what the most wanted items are.

Offer sales and deals.  Of course, sales are very attractive.  Offering discounts (even smaller ones, like 10-15%) or free shipping deals a few times a year help give customers that extra boost to buy items that they want.  Also, customer appreciation sales once a year would help bring back customers you haven’t seen in a while.
What are your tips for increasing sales and gaining new customers?  If you’re a shopper, what keeps YOU coming back?