If the title of this article made you think “that’s impossible,” bear with me for a bit. You might find more ideas than you initially think.
This past weekend, my family and I attended a community festival in a small Midwestern city. During this festival – like many such community festivals – there were dozens of street vendors hawking their wares. The weather was beautiful and the crowds were out in force, so I couldn’t help but notice that many of these street vendors had enormous lines. The business owners were putting products in their customer’s hands as fast as they possibly could.
Later in the day, I struck up a conversation with the owner of one of these booths. He told me that he does about five community festivals a year – a total of about 15 days of work – and he brings in almost enough money in those 15 days that he could do nothing but run his booth for a living. “I can’t sit still, though,” he told me, “so I do lots of other stuff, too.”
What was the secret to that kind of success? He simply told me that it was a matter of going to where the customers are, and then he said something that made me really think. “Most businesses think the customer is going to come to them. It’s not going to happen very often, not when there’s tons of competition. When people go out for dinner, they’re not going to choose my booth. The people that choose my booth are these people, out and about enjoying the festival with their families. I’m where they are.”
What can you do to bring your business to your customers?
The first step to answering that question is understanding who your customers are. Where are they? Where will they be when they recognize a need for your business?
As I look across the street right now, I see my neighbor leaving for work in a loaner car dropped off for her by a local auto repair place. The driver of that loaner got into a tow truck and together those two employees took the car off to be repaired, minimizing the inconvenience for the car’s owner. This service likely earns the business a very nice premium.
At the grocery store yesterday, I spotted a flyer for someone giving home cooking lessons. Most of the phone number tabs on the bottom of the flyer were missing.
A week ago, a college student gave me a flyer for tutoring services. She’s an education major and is offering one-on-one or small group tutoring for any elementary and junior high student at a very nice price. Why is this noteworthy? I live on a block loaded with elementary and junior high students.
Where are your customers? Where will they be when they’re thinking about your business? Answer those questions, go there, and you’ll likely find a mountain of leads for your small business.
Image credit: Stu Spivack