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How To Find The Next Generation Of Customers For Your Business

Paul Clapham details some low cost ways to find the next generation of customers for your business How To Find The Next Generation Of Customers For Your Business

Many business owners are too busy focusing on the current generation of customers to spend time and money on the next generation.

“When they’ve got money to spend in my premises, I’ll find them or they will find me.” That’s an understandable reaction, but it’s short sighted because by the time the have that money it’s most likely that lots of their purchasing habits are already formed.

Online generation

Remember, we’re talking about the online generation who have been looking for products and services via computers and, more recently, smartphones for several years before they visit your store. They’ve grown up or are growing up with social media telling them what to covet, indeed what to think.

If you’re a parent, you’ll recognise that the speed of technological change is at its fastest among the young. It’s a somewhat scary reality that, as fast as you master one piece of technology, along comes another and those young customers you’re hunting have moved on.

But relax, it’s not necessarily so bad. First of all, everybody is in the same boat - and that includes your competitors. What’s more, you have access to expertise, some of which will be free.

Talk to your children

Start by talking to your own children if they’re in the right age group, failing that your friends’ and extended family’s children. They might even enjoy being involved in helping you develop your business.

You want to know where they would find out information about your business sector. You may feel you already know this from how existing young customers come to you, but I would strongly suggest discussing it widely.

If you have young staff, this is a key resource - people who are in the right demographic or close to it and who know what you do in detail. Plug into that expertise.

Speak to teachers

Talk to any teachers you may know. They are experts in the youth market and get a classroom full of candidates five days a week.

There are some well established routes to reaching teachers by direct mail and, done properly, it’s highly effective.

Online presence

Have a significant web presence. Four out of five schools source suppliers via the web to start with, so a professional site is paramount. That site should be mobile responsive because teachers use both phones and tablets in and out of school for sourcing.

But that site is little good unless those prospective customers find it. You may already invest in search engine optimisation, but if not this is clearly a case for it. Alternatively, you could spend money on Google Adwords. Pay per click is regarded as an excellent advertising route, because you only pay for results.

Get listed on the National Register of Education Suppliers. It’s a well recognised platform and three quarters of schools use it to compare potential suppliers. A presence there is essential for selling to this sector. Equally, get accredited by the National Association of School Business Management as an approved partner.

You will be well aware that the youth market is in love with social media. Indeed, you may feel the young spend far too much time on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. But if you’re determined to crack the youth audience, you simply cannot afford to avoid them.

The idea of spending your valuable time on posting to these sites may fill you with unhappiness - and I can’t blame you. So get someone else to do it. That someone will probably be working for you as a junior staff member and will likely be one of the above teens fixated by social media. That person will be delighted to get paid for doing what they do in their spare time for fun.

Student market

It’s almost certain that there is a university in your locality, quite possibly two or three. There will also be colleges of further and higher education. As with teachers, there are established routes to reaching the student market that no longer mean turning up at the student union with a roll of posters to put up

In addition to being far more sophisticated than it used to be, selling to students has many more strands - some operated nationally, others locally. The best advice is visit the university of your choice and meet the marketing manager. You’ll find out what routes to their student audience are on offer and they vary from campus to campus.

Widen your search

‘The next generation’ would normally be interpreted as the youth market. But when we’re talking about customers, that could well be too narrow a definition.

As a case in point, if you sell anything related to gardening you’re probably aware that the age of 40 is regarded as puberty in that trade. I have also heard it said by marketing people in kitchen businesses that serious interest in cooking doesn’t kick in until people are in their mid-thirties in many cases. In the same way, seniors are a next generation of customers. Do a Google search putting ‘senior’ before any sport or social activity and I predict you will be amazed at the number of relevant clubs and associations you turn up. They will include people returning to an activity or, in many cases, taking it up for the first time.

While those senior sportsmen and women may be playing their sport of choice at a slower pace than they used to, they’re certainly not at the back of the field when it comes to spending on their enthusiasm.

The over-50s typically have more disposable income than the younger generation and they’re happy to dispose of it on all manner of personal pleasures. Take a look at the Saga website for some impressive statistics regarding this age group. Read more like this

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