Does this sound all too familiar? You’ve been wooing a Big Client a long time, and you finally land them. They’re keeping you busy beyond your wildest dreams -- so busy, in fact, that you barely have time to attend to your other customers, much less market your business to new prospects. But that’s OK, because the big checks keep rolling in.
And then suddenly -- they stop. Perhaps there’s a merger and the exec who hired you has been booted out the door. Maybe the Big Client decides to bring what you do in-house. Or they decide to jump on the outsource bandwagon. Whatever the reason, Big Client no longer needs your services. And snap! -- just like that -- you’re scrambling to replace 25 percent, 50 percent, or even more of your income.
Putting all (or most) of your eggs in one client’s basket is an easy trap to fall into. It’s easy to be seduced when a customer keeps asking you to bid on projects, or treats you almost like an arm of their company. But be strong. Resist the temptation. Giving in can cripple or even kill your business.
The marketplace is changing rapidly, with new tools, technologies and options available to your clients. In a matter of months, weeks even, a product or service they once could get exclusively from you might be available for one-tenth the price somewhere else.
This affects all businesses, not just ones serving B-to-B companies or those with corporate clients. If you sell to small and mid-sized businesses, you know they’re still watching their budgets and trimming wherever they can. Consumers remain cash-conscious as well -- the recession and its lingering aftereffects have made everyone wary of commitment.
So how can you attract new clientele while still satisfying your existing customers? Here are five ideas.
1. Think different (customers). If you want a diverse client base, you have to diversify your products and services. Brainstorm several ways that your product or service could be revamped to target a different industry or a different niche of your current industry. For example, if your current customers are beauty salons, perhaps you could also target beauty supply stores or drugstores.
2. Diversify your marketing. If you want to catch different fish, you need to fish in a different lake. Try using social networking tools like Twitter and LinkedIn to reach new prospects and target new markets you haven’t focused on before. There’s no cost but your time.
3. Seek referrals. Using your current customers to help you land new ones is smart business. You’ll be surprised how many contacts in other industries you’ll be able to glean from your existing clientele.
4. Give ‘em more. Is there a fast, easy way to extend what you offer your existing clients? Suppose you own a business coaching company. Think about adding business-organizing or time-management seminars to your line of services. Offering something new to your old clients tends to lead to new markets as clients tell their friends and colleagues about your business.
5. Team up. Are you leery of jumping into a new industry or niche? Partnering with complementary businesses to offer new products and services is a great way for both of you to expand your clientele. It lessens risk, cuts expenses, and saves time.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Follow Rieva at Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit SmallBizDaily.com to sign up for her free TrendCast reports.
Image credit: Photos.com