Finding new customers

There are five key things you can do to get new customers, probably best tackled in this order. 

1. Find new customers in your existing markets

Chances are there are several new customers hidden in your existing market. Start measuring what marketing tactics work and then replicate to get new customers.

First develop a profile of your ideal customer, then identify where others like them can be found, and develop a shortlist of new targets that have potential. When compiling your research, take note of common characteristics such as:

  • Demographics: age, gender, education, interests, and income.
  • The biggest problem they want to solve and any barriers—real or perceived.
  • How and where they spend their time.
  • How they prefer to communicate with you—in person, by phone, email or online.
  • For business customers, their buying cycles.

Ask for referrals – your customers are likely to know other people just like them who could benefit from your products and services. Many customers are more than willing to refer your business if you simply ask.

2. Look for new distribution channels

You may need to seek out new ways to expand your customer base. Can you:

  • Open new outlets – expand into different geographical locations or franchise. If you want to literally branch out, research consumer demand for your goods or services in different locations.
  • Go up or down the supply chain – if you’re a wholesaler, add a retail outlet (going up) or start importing direct (going down).
  • Sell online – you’ll be able to create a new avenue for your customers and widen your audience and therefore potential customers.
  • Alter how you find work – join contracting bids or open tendering opportunities.
  • Consider any competitors or complementary businesses looking to sell. You might be able to buy them out to extend your reach and customer base.
  • Look for a secondary market – some businesses gain online traffic to then sell advertising like Google Adwords.
  • License – find similar businesses in other markets or countries where you own the intellectual property and they pay you a royalty.
  • Set up affiliates – distribute other businesses’ products and take a margin or, in reverse, you offer your product or service to others and they sell on your behalf.

3. Find new markets

Define your market area or region, and then using local statistics or your industry knowledge, look for other areas that in the past you’ve not touched for whatever reason.

  • Consider exporting – overseas markets offer opportunities to expand your business. Conduct on-the-ground research in the countries you’re considering. Make sure to find out what regulations, tariffs, and business risks are present in your new target market.
  • Explore new market models – if you sell to end consumers, consider if you can sell to businesses as well. Similarly, if you sell to businesses, find out if there is a way to sell to individuals.
  • Look at untraditional markets – perhaps the government or education sectors have opportunities to explore.
  • Review your online strategy – we know the internet offers a potential world-wide market, however, identify what’s practical for you to target. It takes just as much time and effort as any new business region.

Regardless of any new market you target, adjust your marketing to position as a solution.

4. Focus on selling

Sometimes ‘selling’ can be seen as too pushy. But ‘would you like fries with that’ makes McDonalds millions. To some extent we are all selling something, so placing emphasis or budget into a selling strategy will be a good return on investment.

Assess your top salespeople or tactics and improve your conversion rate by:

  • Running workshops, webinars or events for customers.
  • Direct sell where you call or visit prospects direct.
  • Offer free product or services with options to pay to add extra services.
  • Offer discounts to new customers via industry events and trade shows.
  • Create content for new customers to download as a lead.

Develop a sales plan and train, upskill and encourage everyone in your business to be a salesperson.

Get in front of more potential customers by:

  • Assessing direct competitors and if it’s appropriate, approach their customers and offer an incentive to switch.
  • Using direct marketing software or engaging third-party companies to send you qualified leads.

5. Partner

One of the great secrets to finding new customers is being creative in seeking out strategic alliances and joint ventures. As you know, your existing customers have cost you a lot of money to acquire. Tapping into a complementary business’s databases of customers and forming strategic alliances can uncover a new stream of customers. Seek to:

  • Form marketing partnerships – where you jointly promote with another business, even better if you can get in front of their customer base. Working together gives you instant credibility to their clients.
  • Vigorously network – attend events, conferences or exhibitions your customers attend. Invest in any speaking opportunities to better your profile.

Develop a strategy

Finding new customers is one of the most common pain points of small business owners. Yes, adding revenue can solve most problems, as long as it’s planned growth.

  • Implement tactics to add new customers that are relevant to your business and industry
  • Research what other businesses are doing that seems to work and replicate
  • Seek external advice if you’re unsure how to grow sales

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For informational purposes only. There is NO WARRANTY, expressed or implied, for the accuracy of this information or its applicability to your financial situation. Please consult your financial and/or tax advisor.

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