Acquiring customers is key to staying in business. It’s like fuel for the engine. Some say attracting customers is more art than science. But here’s the deal: once you develop an organized sales process, that includes drives quality leads into your sales funnel, nurturing them and then getting on the phone, zoom or in a meeting to close the sale, that is when acquiring customers becomes an art form.
Let your closing percentage be your bragging right. So let’s talk marketing basics before we dive into tactics that generate customer love and don’t involve ad money.
Know your customer. Before you can get started, it’s important to know what niche customer or industry you want to serve. It removes the guesswork from the equation. It’s also much easier to hit an exact target.
Don’t just try stuff. That which gets measured can get fixed. If you’re going to do marketing that you don’t measure or test, you could be wasting money. Develop marketing methods with a goal, a clear success measure and an effective call to action. Otherwise, you won’t be able to determine how well or if your tactics convert.
Go for the relationship, not just the sale. Your marketing tactics should be a mix of marketing and friend-raising. When you get a customer, you must over-deliver to build a long-term relationship. Anyone will buy something once. You need repeat business to stay in business. Learn your customer’s “care abouts” and “must-haves” to anticipate their needs. Profile your best customers then use that information to attract more customers just like them.
Many small business owners have been convinced that the best way to attract customers is with paid ads on Google, Facebook or Instagram, but I want to prove otherwise. There are plenty of ways you can get attraction with your target audience.
Here’s a list of my top 20 tactics you can use to attract customers without ads:
1. Develop Signature Content
What do you know or do that is special and unique to your business? People buy systems! You don’t just want to duplicate the same old content or tips everyone is already talking about, you want to develop and eventually sell a full solution. There is a lot of content online on side hustling and the gig economy, but I have developed SmallBizLady’s Side Hustle Success Formula. I will write and teach about my system for side hustling which is how I pull away from the crowd of business experts.
2. Start a Blog
Blogging is an amazing way to build relationships with prospective clients and become an industry expert. My blog gets over 250,000 visitors monthly, and I have ten of thousands of newsletter subscribers. Start by blogging about topics that speak to your customer’s pain and care abouts. Position yourself as a resource to help them win.
3. Use Calls to Action
Engage your audience with calls to action in your blog content. Calls to action don’t need to be as aggressive as “Buy Now” if your goal is simply to increase engagement. Ask them if they have a suggestion, book or resource to share. Also, provide a link so that they can sign up for your newsletter or download a free checklist.
4. Make a Great Offer
Most website visitors to stop by and leave, so make them an irresistible free offer for their contact info, like sample book chapters, a free quote, video course, newsletter, ebook, or a checklist. Develop a landing page with a contact form to capture the email addresses. Once they join your prospect list send them an email sequence that establishes your expertise and builds trust. Your emails should offer your origin story, and provide helpful advice before you make a pitch. Your goal is to convert them into a paying customer, but help them for free first.
5. Offer a Free Trial or Consultation
Offering free trials and 30-minute strategy sessions on your website are a great way to market your services or software. They also allow you to get feedback on new products and services. During a free coaching consultation, you can listen and demonstrate your knowledge, by directing them a resolve a minor issue to show the value of what you have to offer. This should convert them into paying returning customers later.
6. Create a Branded YouTube Channel
Video converts better than anything online. YouTube is the second-most visited website in the world behind Google—which makes creating a branded YouTube channel a great business opportunity. Create a business channel so you can customize it for your brand and give access to team members. You’ll want to categorize your content by what you share: How to’s, Products, Advanced Education, Interviews and Success Stories, etc. Be sure to add links to your YouTube channel banner including your website and other social channels.
7. Create a Facebook Group for Customers
Any group should be about its members & how the group can provide value for them. Create a group to reward your customers & make them feel special — for example, a group exclusively for people who have purchased your product or taken a course. Include a link to join on your sales page or send emails inviting customers to participate. Use the group to follow up with customers or help them if they have questions.
8. Host a Free Webinar or Workshop
Let your prospects taste what you have to offer. Share your experience through a free webinar online which will allow you to build your email list. Or you can host a local workshop in your community about the content of a recent book. You’ll grow your prospects, and position yourself as a thought leader in your industry.
9. Leverage Your Existing Network
Your existing network is the best place to start, not necessarily for business, but certainly to get their recommendations and warm introductions to people who can use your products or services to help grow your business.
10. Network at Conferences
Plan to go to an industry conference where your prospective clients are in attendance. If you can, pitch yourself to speak at the conference. Be sure to attend all the after-hours and early morning networking events available to build personal relationships.
11. Strategically Network Online
Social media is FREE, but you need to be strategic with your time there. Focus on one or two social platforms where your niche target customer spends the majority of their time online. Listen first, learn the culture of that site and then add value to the conversations and content there.
12. Get Visible on LinkedIn
If you sell B2B, LinkedIn is a must. It’s an amazing resource to find and engage potential business leads. Make sure your profile with up-to-date information about how people can hire your company. Use Sales Navigator to search for leads. Be careful not to mark yourself like someone looking for a job. Share valuable blogs and signature content. Import your contacts and connect with as many people as possible.
13. Partner with Non-Competing Firms
Partner with a non-competing company is a great way to offer your services as an extension of their business. For example, a chiropractor could promote the edible arrangements business a few doors down from him and vice versa. The dry cleaner could promote the yoga studio on the same block.
14. Ask Clients for Referrals
Referrals are the best way to get new clients, and they close much faster. You need to turn your happy clients into an unpaid sales force to spread your name around. Most clients will give you a referral if asked. Get in the routine of asking everyone for a referral within 30 days of doing business. You can ask via email, but the phone is the best.
15. Leverage influencers
Connecting with influencers in your industry can make or break a new product launch. There are all kinds of influencers. For example, I have a huge following my blog, a considerable email list and a considerable following on Twitter and LinkedIn. Make a list of influencers who reach your target audience. Unless you have a big budget I suggest starting with the B or C list. A list of celebrities are typically out of reach. If done well, influencer marketing is one of the best ways to grow interested in your products and your brand.
16. Reengage Former Clients
The best potential for a new sale is someone who has already done business with you. I’m referring to clients you did business within the last 2-3 years. Go through your email and make a list. Dump that list into your CRM then send them a follow-up email asking how they doing to re-establish contact. Ask if there is anything you can do for them. This tactic is about showing that you care. This interaction could lead to a small test project or even a new major contract, you should want to get your business name top of mind should an opportunity arise.
17. Reengage Prospects
Make a list of business to develop proposals for that didn’t close over the last few years. Maybe the timing wasn’t right last time you connected, or your proposal was bigger than their budget. Whatever it was it doesn’t matter, never fear to keep in touch with a lead. Follow up with each, asking what they’ve been up to and how you can help. The vendor who won the business could have screwed up. They might be looking for a new vendor. You just want to keep the door open to possibilities.
18. Guest Blogging
You can leverage someone else’s platform with a well-written guest blog. Find blogs that your target customers read and ask how to submit a guest post on them. You should write about a topic that fits within the blog, but also something that readers will get tons of value out of. Guest blogging is great because you can share your expertise and grow your brand by tapping into someone else’s audience.
19. Expand Your Network
You always need to grow your network. Attend two or three networking events a month, join your trade association, business organizations such as your local chamber, NAWBO, or a LeTip networking group. You should also form strategic partnerships, and congratulate people in your network who make big news or get a promotion. Do what you can to keep your name top of mind.
20. Always Be Helpful
A long-term strategy to attract customers is to always be kind and helpful to prospective clients. Offer ideas, connections, feedback, to assist them with their help business challenges. You might not close a client or get referrals immediately with this strategy, but people do business with people they like to know and trust.
There are a lot of options here to pursue to attract customers. If you just attempt just a few your business will change. Your sales pipeline will have more prospects and you’ll increase your close ratio. You can run ads, but you can add value more slowly and build a customer for life.
Do you have any suggestions for this list?