How to Shift Your Business Without Losing Customers

By Herman Pool
In Marketing
July 18, 2012

Article By Vertical Axion

Stephen Shapiro, writer of Goal-Free Living, told the tale recently about how being featured on Oprah almost destroyed his business. Generally speaking, being featured on Oprah or in her magazine means your business will triple or your book will start selling out in stores. Unfortunately for Shapiro, Oprah’s shining review of his book brought havoc into his business instead.

Like anyone who is featured by the richest woman in the world, Shapiro thought that mentioning Oprah’s review on his website would bring him more business. Instead, his bounce rate – how many people visit and then leave within a few seconds – tripled in just a few weeks. The potential clients that were kind enough to comment as to why they left so quickly almost always mentioned Oprah – to them, it made his business seem less serious and less focused on the needs of their corporations. After all, the shining review was for his book – not his business. His business appealed more to creative people within companies that needed a helping hand saying something the right way while his book targeted a completely different market.  These two things suddenly being on one website confused his clients, and confused buyers NEVER buy. So what can you learn from Shapiro’s situation?

Innovate, Don’t Alienate

When you expand into other markets – Shapiro chose book writing – don’t alienate your current audience, especially if it’s strong and loyal. You’ve worked hard to find that audience, and pushing them away for a different one will only cause you strife. Expanding into other markets can be done, but don’t forget those who already trust your company.

Also, ensure you aren’t redesigning your entire business without informing your clients. Innovation in your business consists of shifting your business’ direction, slowly but surely. Redesigning your entire business is a much larger shift at a much faster pace, and your customers may lose their patience in all of the confusion the shift causes and leave before it’s over.

When you decide to do new things with your company, shift in very small increments and be patient. However, shifting in increments that are too small won’t cut it in sustaining long-term growth. You may ride your past success for a significant amount of time, but eventually that ship sails.

When You Shift, Shift Just Enough

When your business shifts, don’t change everything your customers know and love all at once. Leave some of the things that work alone. If you want to start exploring new ways to present content, instead of changing the content itself or changing the name of your company, explore internally instead. Check out eLearning systems and talk to training organizations that can help you design and deliver your work. Don’t change your logo, your motto, or your layout to reflect a “change in course”. Changing the face of your company can immediately cause people to distrust you, and you can lose your position as an expert in your field. This will mean that you immediately begin to lose business and leads. Changing things internally can be just as effective as changing things your customers see, and in the long run, this kind of shift will be much more valuable. You and your team can learn new things and improve upon the business without ever disturbing your loyal clientele.

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