Where to find clients is a key factor for any business that wants to grow. The best and fastest growing businesses already have many answers to this question, but they keep looking anyway, as this is one of the best ways to thrive even in a recession.
Before you begin looking for new clients, though, can I ask you whether you have a very clear picture of the ideal clients for your business? If you know exactly what they are like, great! But if not, don’t despair. The reality is most business owners have not spent nearly enough time working this out. And if you don’t know what ideal clients look like, how can you expect to find them? Time spent answering this question is time very well spent indeed.
Write down the main attributes of your typical “best client”. You don’t even have to use your imagination for this. Look through your client list and pick out the top 10 or 20 in terms of profitability. Remember when doing this that the biggest spender may not always be your best client. Look at how much it costs you to look after him as well as how much he spends.
When you have this list, go through it and start finding common attributes. Exactly what kind of person is your ideal client? Do such clients have lots of money for example? If so, what magazines do wealthy people read, and where do they go – that is where you need a presence. Are they typically parents of young children? If so, maybe a small sponsorship contribution to an event at a local school could be helpful – parents like to see such support and will often then support the local business people who grant it. This list could go on and on. It is specific to your industry and your business, so spend time getting it right and you might find the “watering hole” of your best prospective clients has been staring you in the face and you never realised!
When did you last look really carefully at your website? Are you certain it says what your prospective clients want to read? Maybe look at it with a fresh eye now you have defined more carefully what your ideal client is like. Have you ever got friends and family to look at it and give you some constructive criticism? Now is not the time to be proud or boost your ego – make sure both you and others who look at it are as critical as possible. Just a small change could make all the difference, both to prospective clients who stumble over it and to those you have marketed in other ways and who go there to check you out.
While looking at your website, make sure you have got the right keywords in there. These days choosing the right keywords is vital. Think carefully about what prospective clients looking for a business like yours are likely to ask in a Google search. Then check each of those keywords using the Google keyword tool. Ideally you want to find suitable words, with a high local monthly search, but low competition – that way you are likely to come up much higher in a Google search, and maybe even on the first page if you get it right!
Think about how, and perhaps even more importantly, where you advertise. Where are your best prospective clients likely to be? Advertise there. What magazines or papers might they read? Those are the ones to have your ads. Make contact with some local papers and try to get recognised as an expert who writes good articles related in some way to your industry. Not sales articles, but informative articles the public really want to read.
Find ways to drive prospective clients to your website. You could have the best site in the world, but if you do nothing to “drive traffic” to it then it is just a waste of internet real estate! E-mail marketing is one good way. Have a Facebook presence and make sure your facebook page points people to your site. Twitter can be a good way of driving traffic to your website too, as long as you don’t abuse it and start advertising directly there, or you will probably get banned for spamming!
Take a good look at what your competition does. The competitors you know are getting a lot of business, of course. How do they get their business? What is their website like? Where do they advertise? What do they say in their advertising? Ultimately you must differentiate yourself from them and show prospective clients that you are so much better, but using some of their techniques can be very powerful for leveraging your own marketing strategy.
Consider a partnership with another business, or rather a loose arrangement rather than a formal partnership. Think of what else someone who buys your service is likely to need in tandem with it. This will be very different from business to business. Then approach some good providers of that other service and see if you can work together in an informal “you scratch my back and I will scratch yours” manner.
Most importantly – get referrals. Always! Never lose any opportunity to get your satisfied customers to sell for you. In the IT world this is known as “crowdsource marketing” and it is very powerful and very effective. You could perhaps offer a small discount to customers who recommend you. Or maybe offer a discount on a product or service of a (non-competing) local business, and then see if you can get them to do the same for you.
There are so many things you could and should be doing to find new business. If you are not doing it properly you can bet at least some of your competition is, and that means you are losing business to your competitors. Keep an open mind and always be on the lookout for new ways of finding new clients. Try something new. If it works, great! Keep doing it, but now be on the lookout for something else that is new. If it doesn’t work, then just accept that is one of the costs of staying alive in today’s business world – don’t give up but just keep looking.
Finally, please do not ignore us when looking for new ideas. As you will see from the rest of our website we are the experts in how to find new clients for businesses just like yours. Try us out and see what difference that can make to your business growth.