Two young business owners discuss ways to expand their business audience and attract new customers.

5 Ways to Expand Your Business Audience


Attract new customers by learning the best ways to expand business target audience with these 5 steps from Fifth Third.

Tough times often reveal important lessons. The coronavirus pandemic and resulting economic turmoil may have made it clear that your business needs a broader audience. That's because a more diverse customer base can help a business minimize risk and make it easier to continue thriving—even during economic slowdowns.

If your target audience is starting to feel a little too targeted, you can take deliberate steps to identify and engage with new markets. Not only will you minimize risks, but you’ll also position your business for new growth with a broader target audience. Here's are five simple ways to do just that.

1. Conduct Market Research

The best way to start expanding the potential audience for your business is to thoroughly examine the audience you’re already serving. Take time to learn more about the demographic you currently serve. You can learn about your current customers by simply asking questions, conducting a survey or even hiring a market research professional. When you understand your current market, you can then brainstorm complementary markets to consider pursuing.

For example, if you own a bait shop and a large segment of your customer base includes married men, you might consider offering new product lines that would appeal to the wives of fishermen. If your business specializes in producing birthday parties for kids, you might consider offering cocktail or casino night parties that you could market to their parents.

There are a number of ways to expand your audience, and adding a focus on a new type of customer is only one of the options. You might also consider expanding geographically by offering services in a new location or expanding into a new industry. If you need help coming up with ideas for expansion that complement your business, ask current customers or front-line employees for their input.

2. Consider New Products or Services

After you’ve uncovered the new customer groups you want to target, think about how you can meet their needs. While your current offerings may be applicable to the new audience you want to pursue, a new market may also offer opportunities for new products or services.

Take time to examine the offerings of other businesses that serve the market you want to reach. You may be able to provide similar products or services in a better, more convenient or less expensive way. Simply adding new inventory that will appeal to a new audience is an easy way to expand your business. If you plan to add new services, make sure you have the manpower and equipment necessary to provide them.

3. Expand Beyond Your Business Borders

Maybe you want to broaden your audience beyond the next town or even a neighboring state, and take your business to a global level. Selling to international customers is easier than you might think, too.

One easy way to start expanding internationally is by locating foreign customers or by partnering with complementary businesses overseas. There are a number of online resources available to help you do this. For example, the U.S. International Trade Administration offers market information, trade leads and overseas business contacts; and the U.S. Department of Commerce also helps U.S. businesses identify key markets, create market-entry strategies and provides guidance for getting your products and services into the hands of international customers. Also, the Federation of International Trade Associations offers trade leads and market research to U.S. companies seeking to expand overseas.

4. Seek Out Partnerships

Another option for expanding your target audience is to partner with other small businesses so that both partners can benefit from each other’s markets.

For instance, a bakery and a party décor business might partner to offer a birthday party package at a reduced rate or free to the winner of a drawing. When both businesses share the package or drawing with their own audiences, they will each be introduced to new potential customers.

Holidays and seasonal events are good opportunities to introduce partnerships. For example, a construction company that builds decks and patios might partner with a landscaper and a retailer that sells barbecue grills to offer backyard specials for July 4th.

5. Lean On Social Media

When you’ve decided on the new target audiences you want to reach, you have to find ways to get their attention. There is certainly a place for paid advertising, but Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media platforms can be cheap and easy tools for getting in front of a new audience.

To use these tools most effectively, find out which social media platforms are used most by your target audiences and spend time building and nurturing a following. You can do this by creating and posting valuable and entertaining content that will continually build a relationship with your existing, new and growing audiences. That content can include photos, videos, links to interesting articles or blog posts, and occasional information about your products and services.

Expanding the target audience for your business won’t happen overnight. But if you carefully pinpoint the audience you want to reach and develop creative ways to attract their attention, you can gradually broaden your audience. And that can enable you to build a more expansive, more risk-averse and ultimately more profitable business.

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