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Increase Your Customer Base

Loyalty programs, coupons and other ways to drive new traffic to your business
April 14, 2003

Q: I've been in business for several years and have been able to maintain a steady stream of customers through word-of-mouth. However, I am interested in increasing my customer base. How can I use marketing and advertising to promote my business and draw in new customers?

A: If your business has decreased because of reasons outside your control (such as the economy), advertising alone may not remedy your situation. But if your in-store or Web site traffic has slowed down because prospective customers need more information about your products or need an incentive to buy, you may want to promote your business through several efficient and cost-effective methods.

Loyalty programs are one of the best ways to reward customers for their patronage and acknowledge frequency. For example, Worldwide Gift & Loyalty in Oxnard, California, offers a program based on smart cards that enables small and midsized businesses to issue and redeem electronic gift and loyalty cards, with programs tailored to an individual merchant's needs. Merchants can increase customer loyalty and build store traffic by offering frequency points, points for purchases and rebates on purchases, all of which can be implemented and tracked through the program. Here are some other ideas:

Plan Your Campaign
If you employ these marketing efforts and determine that your business still needs the boost of paid advertising, consider the following steps to plan your campaign:

Media Selection

Once you decide you want to advertise, consider what media are available and how they can benefit your business:

Promoting your business is not just about advertising. Marketing the right product at the right price to the right market segment at the right time, in addition to public relations, are both important elements to your overall business mix. Conduct your advertising research first and then set a realistic budget. Make certain your media choices reach your target markets, meet your business objectives and fit your budget. Get the message to your customers that you have products and services that will meet their needs. Communicate that you want their business. The most effective methods and media depend upon your products, your target customers and your creativity.

Cardservice International Senior Vice President of Sales John Burtzloff is in charge of sales strategy and execution and thus is responsible for managing all aspects of the company's marketing, communications, telesales, check guarantee, new accounts and sales support activities.

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, not of All answers are intended to be general in nature, without regard to specific geographical areas or circumstances, and should only be relied upon after consulting an appropriate expert, such as an attorney or accountant.