Eight Ways To Find Customers
What's the hardest thing about starting and growing a business? For many small businesses, the answer is finding clients or getting customers.
Customer acquisition is particularly difficult if your marketing budget is limited. Here are 18 time-tested strategies to help build your customer base.
Finding customers is one of the most difficult challenges for startup and established small businesses.
Having a great product or service that you are sure many people will need isn't good enough.
Customers won't find you, your store, your website or your facebook page just because you start a business. You have to go out and find potential customers and clients. In fact, customer acquisition needs to be an ongoing focus for most businesses.
Even successful businesses will have customers or clients who stop buying for one reason or another. Those customers have to be replaced just to keep your business on an even keel.
18 Ways to Find Customers for your Business
When a business is small, finding ways to bring in business usually falls on the business owner's shoulders.
But business owners often don't have much experience in marketing or selling.
If you're a startup or an existing business that's looking for more ways to grow your customer base, these strategies will help.
1. Develop a plan for customer acquisition
The secret to creating a successful acquisition plan is to know who would make the ideal customer.
If you sell to businesses, consider what department is most likely to buy your products or services, and what individual (what level of responsibility) would be the one to determine the specific purchase requirements.
(Make some calls if you don't know!) Determine how long the buying cycle is.
Is buying your product a decision that can be made quickly by a single person?
Or are you selling something that has a long buying cycle, possibly involving multiple individuals?
Next, think about how the typical buyer normally finds products or services like yours. What circles do they travel in?
Are they active in social media? Who are they likely to listen to or where do they look when they want to buy your type of product or service.
What could you do to get referrals and recommendations from those sources? Write all this information down and look for patterns.
Then, to get more customers, plan ways to put yourself and your information where the people in your target market can find it when they are ready to buy.
2. Look for and follow business prospects on social media.
Don't try to sell to them on their social media feeds. Instead, try to develop relationships with potential customers. Retweet or comment on their posts. Mention them if appropriate in your own social media posts (ie, "@JoeSmith gave a terrific presentation on retail security at today's Chamber meeting"wink Your goal: to get known and seen as a friend. Selling is a lot easier when you sell to people who feel like they know you.
3. Work your local newspapers.
Even in the digital age, daily and weekly newspapers are still an incredible source of contact information and lead to potential new customers. Watch for names of people who have been promoted, who have won awards, who have opened new businesses, or who in any way may be potential customers. Send those people personalized mailings congratulating them on their success or telling them how interesting the article about them was. Include your company name and slogan plus any appropriate product information with your signature. (Example: Jane Smith, ABC Associates, Financial and Retirement Planning Help For Business Owners)
4. Be sure your website and social media pages make it easy for visitors to know how to reach you.
Better yet, give them a reason to give you their contact information. An offer of a free newsletter, a free guide to something related to your industry, or a coupon can all be good devices to use for lead capture. Then follow up regularly on those leads.
5. Go door-to-door if you sell to homeowners.
Sure, a lot of people won't answer their doorbell or will tell you they're not interested, but especially if you're already doing work for one or more homeowners in a neighborhood, canvassing the homes nearby may land you some new business without spending another penny on advertising.
6. Use coupons and special offers to attract customers.
Everybody loves a bargain. Offer a discount to new customers on their first purchase. If you sell products or services that need to be purchased repeatedly, consider making that first discount contingent on the customer signing a contract for a year of service.
7. Sponsor Events.
Events that may bring your potential market together. Look for fliers about the event at local networking group meetings. Or, call and ask the organizers if there are sponsorship opportunities available. Local events can be quite inexpensive to sponsor. Or if the sponsorship cost is high, they may have a "Friends" of the event option that will give you the right to have fliers at the event for a very small fee.
8. Attend meetings and seminars that your prospects might attend.
If you've been doing that and haven't made contacts that could lead to sales, try new networking groups. Look in the newspapers to see what other organizations hold events that might attract your target market and attend some of those meetings.