Whether they’re entrepreneurs just getting their start or veteran business owners, there's one thing all small-business owners have in common: They’re always thinking about how to find new customers. These nine ideas may help you build your customer base.
Asking existing customers for referrals to friends, family and acquaintances in need of your services can be a great way to find new customers. It may be beneficial to develop a system for requesting referrals instead of asking for referrals haphazardly. You may want to ask if the person making the referral is completely happy with your product or service. Consider following up quickly before the referral gets cold.
2. Social Media
Having a strong presence on social media may expose you to a whole new audience: your followers’ social media connections. Creating and sharing content that's valuable to your target market may help you get likes, retweets and re-shares that potential new customers may see. You can even use social media advertising to target very specific markets of prospects.
3. Content Marketing
When considering how to find new customers, remember that today, most people start their search for products, services and businesses online. If your company has created content that helps answer their research questions, you may be able to pull in new customers. Content can include anything from a blog post or article to an e-book or infographic. Using keywords that your target customers are likely to use when searching for what you sell may help your content show up in their search results.
4. Online Advertising
Targeted online advertising, such as pay-per-click (PPC) ads, can be an affordable and effective strategy for a small-business owner wondering how to find new customers. The secret to success is choosing the keywords your target audience is searching for and including a strong call-to-action in your ad.
Word-of-mouth is still one of the top ways small businesses get new customers, so you may not want to neglect the old-fashioned art of networking. In addition to social networking, consider taking your networking efforts offline so you build the face-to-face connections that can be so important to getting new leads.
6. Event Marketing
A splashy event can be a smart move for any business planning how to find new customers. Whether it's a blowout sidewalk sale, an art exhibit at your coffee house or a party where you invite current customers to bring their friends, you may be able to get attention—and new customers. Don’t want to host your own event, or can’t afford to? Participating in or sponsoring a local community event can be just as effective in getting your name out there to a whole new audience.
7. Co-marketing With Other Businesses
Wondering how to find new customers without having to do all the work? You may want to think about developing a partnership with a complementary business to market each other's products/services to your customers. For example, a children’s bookstore could co-market with a salon specializing in children’s hairstyling. When co-marketing with another business, you can place coupons or brochures for each other's businesses in your locations, offer discounts on your service to customers who buy your partner's service and vice versa and include links to each other’s businesses on your websites.
8. Get Publicity
Reaching out to local media (including print, broadcast, radio and online journalists) to keep them up to date about goings-on in your business may help you find new customers. Whether it's an anniversary, a year-end sale or the launch of a new product line, getting your business name in the papers (or blogs) may help increase brand awareness.
9. Offer Deals
Deal sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial can introduce your business to a targeted group of new customers. To make the arrangement worthwhile, consider structuring your deal so that you can make a profit and so that you’re not overwhelmed with business all at once.
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