So you've got a great product or service, and you've spent countless hours preparing your new business. You just want to say - "Mommy, where do customers come from?". If you had a simple answer for that your life would be so much easier. You've dreamed about success and you know people will love what you have to offer. If only the people would come.... While you were putting so much work into getting your business started, you may have overlooked exactly how to get clients in the door in the first place. Check out these tips and techniques for drumming up new business:
1. Develop a marketing strategy.
Understand your target audience and think about what type of person would make your perfect client. Consider what drives this perfect client to choose products or services that your business offers--do they search online for reviews, do they go by word-of-mouth referrals from friends, are they looking for promotions and deals? Use your knowledge of your target audience to create a marketing strategy that will address their needs.
2. Check out a networking group.
Networking groups are an important tool for small businesses. The members of your group can share valuable information--they may be able to help you polish your marketing strategy, find leads in the area, or gain an understanding of your competitors. Connecting with others who are trying to build a business can also ease stress and promote positive thinking. Try checking out MeetUp.com and see where people are gettign together. See if there is a place and a group that fits the profile of the person who would be your ideal customer.
3. Sponsor events.
Events that will attract your target audience are a great place to get your name out there. Ask the event organizers to promote your business, and offer your product or service as a prize for visitors. Give a seminar, provide training, or do a webinar. Make it fun and educational.
4. Free samples.
Everybody loves free stuff! Offering a small sample of your product or service is a terrific way to gain clients through word-of-mouth. When a person tries your product and loves it, not only will he or she return to your business, they will also share the news with anyone they believe will benefit from the product.
5. Generate referrals by offering incentives.
Take a look through your current clients and send out cards offering an incentive if they refer new clients to your business. Sometimes all it takes is a little nudge! People are so willing to help and sometimes all you have to do is ask. Be tactful and be helpful.
6. Understand your competitors.
Look at your most successful competitors and try to understand their techniques. What are they doing to drive potential clients to their business? How can you provide a similar service but make it slightly more appealing? Studying unsuccessful competitors can also be helpful--for example, if a business similar to yours recently closed their doors, determine the cause. What made them shut down? What difficulties did they face?
7. Use frugal online advertising.
To save money on your advertising budget, set up your ads to run only in your local area. Test pay-per-click advertising and find out what works best for your budget. Learn how to use Google AdWords effectively. I got Google AdWords for Dummies and use it like a workbook.
8. Participate in a trade show.
Set up a booth for your business at a local trade show. Trade shows draw in large crowds interested in specific industries. Be prepared to give away samples or offer a short demonstration of your products and services. Bring lots of business cards and offer an email sign-up list so you can follow up with potential clients.
9. Gather feedback.
Obtain feedback from potential clients who did not purchase your product or service. What made them choose a competitor? What promotions did your competitors offer that made them more appealing? Was your website user-friendly? There are many small occurrences that could have turned them off to your business, and it is important to address these issues whenever possible.
10. Hold a special event at your business.
This is like the above-mentioned "sponsor an event" but on a grander scale. Hold your own event at your business and offer prizes and refreshments that will grab potential clients' attention. You can get to know people, and one-on-one conversation will help clients understand your vision and drive.
Combine these tips with some hard work and lots of creative thinking, and customers will be beating down your doors to be next in line! Starting a small business is a challenge, but once you make a name for yourself and your service, getting clients will be a piece of cake.
I am an artist, an analyst, a researcher, and an online development specialist serving the online information industry.