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New customers are the lifeblood of any business or creative enterprise. However, a lot of professionals, business owners and creative entrepreneurs often get confused about how to find new customers (and keep them) in today’s challenging economy. Read on to discover even more steps to achieving this feat!

After Mike (45) spent a small fortune setting up a coaching practice, he was shocked to find that new customers weren’t exactly pouring in after he posted a few tweets and facebook status updates. “I’d assumed that new customers would find me right away via social media,” he said, “but in reality I had to spend additional time and resources on repeated and complex business marketing campaigns.”

It doesn’t matter whether you own an e-commerce business, a high street store or a home-run service based business. You need new customers showing up regularly or you’re toast. Maybe you’re a writer, visual artist, speaker or charity founder. Well, the reality is that you still need new customers beating the path to your door for sure. So are you preparing for your first sale or just keen to expand a healthy customer base? The following tips will help you create a surge of new customers who will willingly part with their cash on a regular basis. Hopefully.

Step 4. Talk to the ‘Good Guys’:

When you’ve built your customer profile, consider approaching people who can get you in front of your desired target audience. You can’t do it on your own so don’t compete – collaborate.

For instance, if you’re a consultant who works with small business owners mainly, you can develop a symbiotic relationship with the presidents of various trade associations and business networking groups. If you’re a wedding photographer, consider working closely with top hoteliers in your area and if you own a winery, get in touch with local bars and restaurants. By ‘partnering with peers’ you can share advertising and marketing expenditure as well as gain quality business referrals.

However, joint venture partnerships don’t come easy (nothing good does, by the way). Naturally, many business people are reluctant to collaborate with people they don’t know and can be extremely protective of their client database. The easiest way to create profitable joint venture partnerships is by approaching prospective partners through mutual contacts (e.g. family, friends, neighbours, old schoolmates or fellow members of professional and social networks).

Step 5. Spread the Word:

Public Relations initiatives can create rapid business growth because consumers are constantly bombarded with adverts and thus more receptive to what they perceive as unbiased media coverage e.g. magazine features and radio interviews. Rather than spending a fortune on paid advertisement, hire an affordable PR professional who can work as part of your team on a medium to long term basis.

Your PR expert could be responsible for researching story angles that will interest the media, writing articles and press releases which will be sent to relevant media outlets, actively seeking radio and TV appearances and helping you present your business in the best possible light.

Media coverage can lead to new customers if managed properly. Before embarking on a PR campaign, do make provision for an influx of customer enquiries (for instance you may need to hire competent call handlers to deal with telephone enquiries and process orders. It may also be necessary to setup a special webpage that your prospects can visit for detailed information).

6. Be Creative:

Many business owners like to find one or two marketing strategies that work and stick with those. However, the more diverse your marketing strategy is, the more customers you will attract. Of course it’s wise to stick to what works but it’s even wiser to keep seeking more effective marketing strategies to execute on a regular basis.

For instance if you currently rely on word of mouth and PR marketing, try prospecting online using tried and tested methods such as article marketing and pay per click advertising. You should also consider information marketing techniques (i.e. marketing that requires you to give away expert information at little or no cost e.g. through public speaking, organising community workshops or writing for reputable publications that cater to your specific target audience).

On the other hand, if you’ve been concentrating mainly on online marketing efforts, it may be time to consider direct mail – which works brilliantly so long as you can get your hands on an up to date list of contacts that fit your customer profile and use well written copy that will engage your prospects from start to end. Remember that old fashioned letters often work far better than fancy full colour postcards so keep your direct mails sweet and simple.

7. Be Generous:

Everyone is always on the lookout for a bargain. In order to create excitement about your brand, increase customers and boost sales, you may need to organise sales promotions or special events from time to time.

The secret to success in this area is applying bags of creativity during the planning process. Think, ‘what’s unique about this promotion? Will my customers find it exciting and memorable? Will they talk about it to others thus creating a buzz? Is my event news worthy and will the media be interested in it? What specific goals am I trying to achieve through this promotion?’

Competitions and prize draws work best when they have an unusual theme, coincide with popular holidays or historic celebrations, offer outlandish prizes or have celebrity endorsement.

As you can probably tell by now, setting up a business is the easy part. However, whether you own your own company or belong to a vibrant sales force, these powerful tips can help you find new customers, increase your bottom line and stay busy in business year after year.

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The Editor

Ogo Ogbata is a writer, teacher, innovator and strategist.

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