Best Practices for Finding a Client Base
Every business is built on relationships. No matter how much money you bring in, or the number of customers you have, it all boils down to the relationships you have with your customers. If customers like you, know you, and trust you, that will go much farther than any marketing investment you could make. But to do that, you first have to get out there and meet people. So how do you do that? Here are some methods we have found effective:
Know Your Customer
This seems like a “no duh” statement, but it is the cornerstone of your business plan. Pin pointing your target customers is the first step for any new business, but you also need to consider where they are as well, as this will allow you to wisely use your marketing budget to focus on a specific region, rather than blindly casting a wide net.
Consider Where There Are Large Groups of Potential Clients
Remember, networking and relationships are going to be the best way to grow your client base. Some options here would be to join a professional trade association or joining some subscription lists that provide you with access to a pool of potential customers. Trade associations are a great option, as they not only put your name in the same arena as established and trusted businesses, but will allow you to build relationships with fellow business owners in your field and learn from them.
Joining a Business District Association
This is something that we here at DayCreative have found to be very beneficial to growing our business and getting our name out there. Anywhere you have a business district, it’s likely that they’ll have a district association of businesses as well. By joining one, you’ll be able to attend monthly meetings and meet both prospective customers and fellow allies in your business arena, as well as make good use of their databases.
Joining the Chamber of Commerce
This is a cost-effective way to entering into basic networking. Most commerce meetings are focused around networking and letting business owners and hopeful start-ups engage with one another and form relationships. You’ll also be able to attend various luncheons and ribbon cuttings, allowing you face-time with people you wouldn’t ordinarily have access to.
Attending a Trade Show
Lastly, if you’re a business owner that has been established for a while, or are in a market that has a more national scale, it’s not a bad idea to look into purchasing a booth at a trade show. While this is more of a financial investment than the other options above, the scale is much wider and you have a much more focused group of potential customers coming to you, rather than going to them.
Summing It Up
Again, this is not the end-all, be-all list of options, but they are different strategies that we have found to be very helpful when you’re starting out with a limited budget. Getting face-time with potential clients and established business owners takes time and you may not see results right away, but the payoff is well worth it, as you will build a reputation for yourself and your business that will be seen and recognized by others.
How should I best spend my marketing budget?
A question that’s on most business owners’ minds when they first launch their business is “how do I best spend my money? What do I invest in?” Because when you’re just starting out, you don’t have a lot of money for marketing and you have so many other expenses.
We wanted to share our insights on this topic and provide you with our suggestions on how to best spend your marketing budget (we use $1,000 as an example here).
Logo/Business Cards (Est. Cost: $250). Even if it’s a simple and cheap logo you get online, you need a logo so that you can start marketing your new business. While we would never recommend this for the long term, if you only have $1,000 to spend, you have to go cheap. Just make sure it is different from your competitors and you get the final files in both vector and raster formats (.pdf and .jpg). From there, pick up some business cards to give to your customer leads. Depending on your industry and sales plan, 1,000 cards should last between 6 months to a year.
Website/Domain (Est. Cost: $400). Once your logo is created, you’ll want to build on that by creating an online presence. Securing a domain not only is the first step towards getting a website up and running, but it also allows you to send emails from a business account, rather than your personal Gmail account, making your business seem more professional. By getting a WordPress or SquareSpace account, you can set up a website that will allow you to present your business to online customers for a small monthly or annual fee without any up front costs. But of course, you have to do the heavy lifting of providing images and copy for the web pages yourself (unless you can find a local writer and photographer who is willing to do it for you for cheap. Just do your homework).
Set up a Facebook page (Est Cost: $0). This one is easy, as it requires no money! By regularly posting on your account with links pointing back to your website, you can boost your web traffic. In thinking about what to post on your page, try to think of what your customers are looking for and distill your company’s solutions to their needs in quick sound bites. How can you be valuable?
Run Facebook or Google ads (Est Cost: $350). With the remainder of your budget, we recommend some small investments in online marketing. Boosting posts on Facebook and/or setting up a GoogleAds campaign is very cost effective and can be one of the easiest ways to get some increased visibility for your brand in its early stages. If possible, invest as much of your $1,000 in Boosted Facebook posts. It’s going to be the best bang for your buck (assuming that your target customers are on Facebook). If you’re not sure where to start with boosted posts or Google ads, a simple Google search on the topic can yield a lot of information to get you up to speed.
Of course, every business and industry is different, so this approach might not make sense for your business. But, by far, the best thing you can do is know your customer, know your customer, know your customer. The better you can enter their world, the better you can find new customers like them and speak their language….which gives you the best chance to earn their business.
If you have found this blog post helpful, we have assembled a more thorough eBook with even more tips and ideas, which you can download here.