As small business owners we all need customers to survive. So where do we find them?
Here is a simple three-step process to get you started on the path to growing your business.
Step 1: Understanding Your Customer
The first step to finding customers is to understand the type of customer you seek. The more time and focus you put into this effort before you market your business, the easier it will be to find your ideal customer.
Separate your potential customers into marketing segments, according to the particular challenges they face and the solutions available to them. This requires a shift in thinking. Your business no longer has a single generic marketing program, but rather a series of mini-marketing programs that address the needs of each customer market individually.
For example, an interior designer may have corporate customers and residential customers. Within the corporate customer market, there may be banks, law firms, and accounting firms. The interior designer must strive to understand each group and its specific challenges in order to create custom marketing materials.
The more we understand about our customers, particularly their problems and challenges, and the better we have segmented them, the more equipped we will be to meet their specific needs and earn their business.
Step 2: Attracting Prospects
If you have done the work in step one, you should now understand the nature of your customers, into which market segment they belong and what specific challenges they face.
This approach forces a fundamental shift in your thinking. You must take off your “company hat” for a moment and become an educator. If you were a teacher, and your prospects were your students, what would they need to know to solve their problems? And what are the ways in which you could reach your students?
You might offer classes, workbooks, videos, articles, e-books, podcasts and many other elements that help resolve a challenge which your prospects are facing.
Let us revisit our example of the interior designer. If that person wanted to attract law firms, they might offer a free seminar called “How to Improve Your Law Firm’s Value & Image.” Next, a personal letter might be sent to the senior partners at each law firm in Rhode Island with a compelling invitation to attend.
Step 3: Converting Prospects into Customers
You might be asking yourself, “What? You want me to give away my valuable expertise for free?”
Yes I do. Give away some truly valuable gems of knowledge. Why? Because you will fill the room with dozens of well-qualified prospects who are itching to learn what you know.
When you have delivered an hour’s worth of great information, many of your well-qualified prospects will want to know more, particularly about the implementation phase of what you are offering. That is when you present them with a “special offer” for your products or services.
Many businesses unwittingly drop the ball at the end of their seminars by not giving their prospects a clear course of action. Once people leave your seminar, the memory and excitement of the experience will be forgotten in a matter of days. Therefore, the key to attracting new customers is to present them with explicit instructions about how to either buy what you are selling or to continue their relationship with you in other ways.
Robert Beadle is President of Northeast Public Relations and Small Business Success Training & Coaching. To learn how you can attract more customers or to attend his upcoming free seminars, contact him at Robert@NortheastPR.com.