More than 80 ideas for how to get customers. This list on how to get customers focuses on:
- Offers and marketing approaches that will help you get customers who will be most profitable and pleasant to serve
- How to get customers as inexpensively and quickly as possible
Who you want to attract as customers: people who will be profitable and pleasant to serve as customers
You do not want switchers as customers. Switchers are people who buy whatever is on sale. They are looking only for the lowest price. They switch from brand to brand, store to store. They’re not loyal. They’re not profitable. They rarely return and when they do, their expectation is to pay the same low price they paid before. Learn how to make promotional offers that will attract profitable and pleasant to serve customers.
Large companies use the term “customer acquisition” for what small businesses refer to as “get customers.” Large companies set up performance measures for customer acquisition.
The basics you need in place to get customers
Why should someone buy what you’re offering?
- Understand positioning and branding
- Be prepared to give effective sales presentations
- What’s your elevator pitch? Can you succinctly explain and differentiate what you offer or sell when you meet someone at a networking event?
TIP: Messaging research is a very good investment because your messaging (how you describe your company, products or services) is the foundation for all your sales and marketing. There are fast and inexpensive ways you can test your messaging.
To get customers, reach them when they are looking, searching and researching
1. Are you listed in the reputable online directories?
Google is the modern version of the (printed) Yellow Pages.
As a generalization, older people and lower income people tend to still use the (printed) Yellow Pages. For most people, Google (and the other search engines) have become the modern version of the Yellow Pages. Be sure to set up your free Google Places listing.
2. If you’re selling to other businesses, you’ll want to market yourself and your business on LinkedIn. That’s free.
How to Market Yourself & Your Company on LinkedIn
3. Make sure people on mobile phones can find your business! With so many people buying web-enabled phones, the Internet has become the new Yellow Pages. You need to make sure that anyone with a phone that has web access can find your company (You don’t need to have a website to do this).
4. Do you have (or need) an ad in the printed Yellow Pages?
5. Do you have a website?
50% of small businesses don’t have a website. A website often functions like how brochures used to. There are a lot of templates and services that make it relatively easy, fast and inexpensive to create a professional-looking website.
A blog is a mini website. There is great easy-to-use software to create blogs. If you plan to have a website and blog, do you need both? Could you use your blog as your website?
Know this: If you are buying a website address (called a domain name) from another company or person, be sure to check the history of that site. If they’ve been blacklisted by Google for spam or other reasons, that means you will be too. It’s like being on the TSA watch list at the airport. Your search results will suffer and you’ll have to go through a process that takes several months with Google to have them review and reconsider your site.
Is your website set up so Google and the other search engines will list you on search engine results pages? Have you done this for all the keywords and phrases prospects are searching for related to what you are selling or offering?
Keyword Research is what you do to learn what words and terms people are searching for that are relevant for your business.
Know this: It’s not just your home page that needs to be set up for the search engines. All the key pages on your site should be set up so they can be found by people searching on Google. This is a wonderful free way to get new customers! Most small businesses have a website but don’t do what they need to so that all the pages are set up to be search-engine friendly.
From our experience: Focus on Google. The majority of searches are done on Google (some sources claim up to 80%). They will index your web pages faster than the other search engines. Within one month of launching Marketing Zone, Google had indexed half of our web pages. Yahoo and Bing had only indexed 5 pages.
TIP from a founder of a start-up:
The great thing about search engines is that you don’t have to do anything — if you have a good service or good content, Google will generally make sure people find it. SEO tweaks can increase these numbers.”
Help people earlier in the buying process who are at the “learning” stage.
- Create a buying guide related to your industry and post it on your website. If you sell a product, focus on the different specs, installation, uses, etc. If you offer a service, focus on the best questions to ask when evaluating a vendor, the different types of services.
- Write a white paper detailing a specific issue affecting your industry, what it means and your take on it. Get other experts to share their opinions as well. Include them in the whitepaper. Ask people to share their name and email address with you to download your white paper. You now have a potential sales lead.
- Learn more about the purchase process and how you can help people at different stages of their buying process.
- Content marketing is a great way to create valuable new business leads and to reduce your costs for pre-sales by educating prospective customers/clients with content (eBooks, articles, videos, white papers, etc.). It’s a win-win for you and your prospective customers.
- Make it easy for people to schedule a meeting with you. Software is available that you can add to your blog or website to help with scheduling appointments.
More ways to Get Customers!
1. Are you soliciting positive customer testimonials? And creating brand fans who will share positive word of mouth? You want to ask customers to write positive reviews for your Google Places listing, Yelp and to use on your website.
TIP: You especially want to collect email addresses and cell phone numbers from customers and prospects. That then enables you to call them, text them and send them information via email, which are all the most effective ways to interact with people and they don’t cost anything.
3. Have you set up a lead management system and process to follow up on all leads in a timely and appropriate manner? Understand lead management and scoring.
4. Have you figured out what information you need to accurately and quickly determine if a prospect is a qualified lead who will represent profitable new business?
Get customers through networking in person and online
Be great at networking in person and online to get customers.
Meeting and networking with other business professionals is a great way to get referrals and meet prospective new clients and customers.
People go to trade shows and seminars to learn about new products/services and to reconnect with companies and people they know.
Social Media Marketing – Focus on the “big 4” for social media: Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter.
To attract customers, focus on targeting
Instead of blasting the same messages and offers to everyone, make your marketing more effective by targeting specific types of customers with the most relevant information, offers and messaging.
Online marketing tactics used by local and small business ranked by effectiveness
- Email Marketing
- Search Engine Marketing
TIP for retail stores: Do you have stickers and labels on demo products in stores? These can be a compelling way to help customers understand why your product is better, different and to point out key features.
To get customers, manage your reputation
- Social media monitoring – this is eavesdropping on public conversations. There are amazing tools that gather and capture the relevant information you want on your company, your brands, your competitors and even individual people.
- Are you managing your reputation when someone does a Google search on you? Your business? Your products?
TIP: It’s big business sifting through social media data posted online. There are companies and people who specialize in helping companies decipher and isolate the relevant online chatter about products, companies, brands and people. Measuring brand buzz is like reverse market research. Instead of asking people what they think in a survey or focus group, you read what they’re saying online in blogs, comments to articles, posts made to forums and places like Twitter and Facebook.
Get customers by being seen as an expert
- Personal Branding – If people are hiring you as an individual, you are a personal brand. That applies to a real estate agent, dentist, physician, chiropractor, attorney, CPA, consultant, veterinarian, architect, political candidate and others who people hire for their expertise. It also applies to business owners who are the brand of their company.
- Host webinars (seminars over the web)
- Content Marketing – Write articles that will educate people on what you’re offering. There are thousands of places where you can post this content online and lead them back to your website.
- Speak at events as an expert
- Offer to write a column in your local paper or an industry trade journal
- Self publish a book and send it to prospective customers
- Create and post an educational slideshow online
- Start a blog
- Offer white papers and reports on your web site (and promote them on the web so you get free search traffic) and require people to share their name and email address to get the information.
- Help a reporter and get quoted as an expert
TIP: There may be a better way to get an article written about you than sending a press release. Tell a writer about a good story idea you have. Don’t write a press release. Don’t hire a PR firm. Instead, think of a compelling story you would like to read. Pick a writer who you like, and who you think might want to write about it. Tell them your story idea in 2-3 sentences. Contact them via email. If you don’t know their email address, guess. Also ping them on Twitter and Facebook. If the writer doesn’t respond, try a different one. But only one at a time — they won’t like you if you give the same story to their competitor. Also, don’t just pitch stories about your company. Ingratiate yourself with writers by selflessly giving them scoops and ideas for stories unrelated to you.
- Post meaningful comments on blogs related to what you sell or offer with links back to your website.
- Create a podcast
- Host seminars
Get customers by generating positive word-of-mouth
- Social media marketing on Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and other popular sites is getting other people to talk positively and authentically about your products/services/company
- Get the (credible, popular) bloggers to champion your business or product.
- Twitter marketing – learn how to make it work for customer acquisition. It’s a very different type of marketing and requires an understanding of Twitter do’s and don’ts.
- Give away products/services to key influencers to gain their endorsements, testimonials and positive word-of-mouth.
- Get talk show and radio DJs to endorse your product or service. These sponsor-read ads are something you’ll need to pay for.
- Get a radio station to host a show from your store or office location
- Focus on influencing opinion leaders
- Get good customer reviews online
- Celebrity endorsement – Ask someone famous to use your site or product or service. Have them tweet about it or make a YouTube video. Get in touch with them through their manager, PR firm, lawyer, Facebook, Twitter. Consider offering them some combination of nothing, money, and/or equity.
Other low-cost ways to attract new customers
Start networking! And improve your effectiveness at networking to make valuable connections.
Groupon is the social buying site and service that offers it’s members a deal a day. As a small business owner, you’ll want to understand the benefits as well as cautions to help you decide whether to participate as a merchant or retailer with an offer on Groupon or other social media coupon sites.
Marketing Yourself and Your Business on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a professional social networking site used primarily by business people for business reasons. It was created based on the concept of “six degrees of separation.” You connect with people you know and then they may allow you to see their connections. On LinkedIn, you can connect with professional colleagues, meet new people, join groups and look for new business leads. They also offer advertising and company pages (their version of what Facebook offers).
PPC (pay-per-click) advertising on Google and search engines
You can choose the exact words and phrases you want your ad to appear and customize the text and offer to be most relevant to those search terms. And you only pay when someone clicks on the ad.
What’s important is to measure your search advertising PPC campaigns based not only click throughs to your website but more importantly to conversion to paying customers.
Know this: The response rates for search ads are very low (1% generally) so you have to buy a lot of ads on keywords to generate much traffic. And you want to be careful that you’re not paying to attract people who you can’t convert into a paying customer or at least get their contact information to be able to continue to market to them.
Coupon books and mailers are fast and easy to get the word out about your product or services to consumers. And it’s expensive per household. But you’ll need to do the math to figure out if this is a good return since you’ll need to pay for the coupon and offer a discount.
Pick up the phone. Start cold calling yourself or hire a telemarketing firm or freelancer who specializes in this.
Create flyers and leaflets
Post videos on YouTube
Email marketing – You can rent email lists. Be careful what suppliers you choose so that you don’t end up being viewed as a spammer.
Movie theater advertising – It’s questionable how effective this type of advertising is because it’s very hard to measure. Read the article about movie theater advertising to learn how this works and what the cautions and costs are.
Direct mail marketing – Send letters, postcards, catalogs.
Get customers by getting press and media coverage
- PR gives you credibility. Learn how to pitch a story to a reporter so they’ll want to write about you.
- Send press releases.
Get customers by educating the prospects who find you
Is your website as effective as it could be at educating prospects?
Ensure your website does the best job possible at educating prospects so they become customers.
Are you solution selling in your marketing to educate prospects about everything they need? Here’s an example of what we mean. A family is dreaming about enjoying a spa in their backyard. Are you helping them quickly understand everything they’ll need to make that dream a reality or are you just promoting the spa? This is a win-win for marketers and buyers if you think of creating showcasing everything they need (the spa, the supplies, the easy to open cover) and the fun accessories like plastic glasses and spa robes. You want to think like you are a merchandiser creating a window display. What would you put in that display to help someone get inspired?
Have you conducted usability testing on your website? It’s an especially good ROI to do this for your check out to buy process to make sure you’re not losing business.
How to attract profitable new customers
Be careful about promotional offers and coupons. They work to attract customers but do they work to attract profitable new business? Or just people looking for a deal who won’t become long-term customers? Are your existing customers using coupons when they would pay full price?
Is your marketing attracting prospects that are like your most profitable customers? Or people looking for the lowest price? Or a special deal?
People going to trade shows are paying to go to these shows and events to learn about new products, services, companies. Are you capitalizing on those open-minded people to educate them?
Nurture leads to convert more prospects to become customers
Stay in touch with people not yet ready to buy. Business development people call this lead nurturing.
Send prospects a survey or quiz. The purpose of this is to ask questions that will help them see the need for your products/services. Ask them to evaluate how well they do something.
- Hire a company or freelancer that specializes in lead generation and lead nurturing (for long purchase cycle products/services) and business development
- Improve conversion rates from prospective leads to paying customers
- Improve your lead management systems and process
- Send an email newsletter
- Create landing pages on your websites and do what’s called A/B testing to learn what works, what doesn’t and why to improve sales lead conversion.
Create partnerships and alliances to get more customers
Place your brochures and signs at other businesses or stores where your prospects go.
Get other websites and bloggers to link to your site or blog. Web marketers call this “link development”.
Partner with other people selling non-competitive products or services who are selling to the same target audience you are.
- For instance, you’re an orthodontist. You want to reach parents with kids in elementary school through junior high. Who else in your community is selling to these same people? Tutoring centers? Sports programs? Private schools?
- Or you’re a real estate agent looking for new listings. Could you partner with movers? Junk removal companies? (and other services indicating someone is fixing up their place) Funeral homes? Divorce attorneys? Relocation companies? (most people put their house on the market when there’s a death, move, divorce)
- Be careful that you align your brand only with companies/products that are of the same (or better) quality.
Participate in and/or create your own affiliate programs to get other people and companies to promote your products/services.
Set a bullseye of what type of customers you want to attract
Do you know what trigger events initiate a prospect to become interested in what you’re selling? An example. People buy new refrigerators when the one they have breaks. Another group of customers buying refrigerators are remodeling and do a lot of research to evaluate alternatives. Those are two trigger events: a broken refrigerator and a desire to remodel. So if you were selling refrigerators you’d want to figure out where people go in these two situations and ensure you are at the right place at the right time with your marketing messages.
Can you define as specifically as possible the type of people you want to attract as well as those you don’t?
Measure the right things
What are your success measures for getting new customers? Successful direct response marketers use these measures:
- Net number of New Customer Accounts (NCA) acquired
- Advertising & Media Efficiency (ROI)
- Total Revenue from New Customer Accounts (NCA)
- Profitability of New Customer Accounts (NCA)
Get customers by expanding where you sell
- Get your product featured on Home Shopping Network
- Sell on eBay
- Sell on Amazon
- Sell on Craigslist
Get customers by improving your sales pitch and offers
- Create a compelling and differentiating message
- Know and use the words that work
- Improve your call to action
- Improve your offer
- Increase trial
- Hire a sales or business coach to help
- Get some sales training
- Add a video tutorial to your website and sales presentations
Generate leads from existing customers
Create “wow moments” for existing customers to get them talking positively about your business/products/services.
Create and nurture customer advocates, so that you get more referrals.
Advertise to get customers
Create an Infomercial.
Advertise. There are two primary types of advertising: brand advertising and direct response advertising. Brand ads are like business development people: they educate and create awareness/interest and buzz. If you need ads that convert prospects into buyers, you want to create direct response ads.