When starting your business the most difficult part is finding your first customers.
Your job is to get the word out there because you’re not established and nobody knows what you do. The big questions is: how do you go from zero to getting your first customer. There’s no way to get around putting in work to promote your new business.
The challenge is getting your brand out there to the people who care about it. Nobody is seeking you out when you start but you know your ideal customer and know they need your service.
For every potential customer out there for your business, there’s a way to reach them. Unfortunately, there are as many ways to reach them as there are customers. At least that’s the way it seems at first.
These suggestions will give you ideas on how you can get out there to promote your new business. I also include the benefits you’ll see from each one. Over time you will build connections with customers or people who will lead you to customers.
No method of promoting your new business will be immediate unless you happen to be in the right place at the right time. Be patient and don’t write off any of these methods simply because they didn’t work the first few times. Be persistent, try many of them and you’ll eventually have multiple channels of new customers.
Meeting people is a great way to jump-start your new business. Whether you’re meeting new people or connecting with your past, you’ll get connections to customers. Try a few of these but be sure you’re persistent and consistent. Don’t fall off the face of the planet and expect a connection to drop everything for you.
Making connections is great for both local business and online businesses, you’ll just have to approach them differently.
There are many networking events happening in your area, you’ll be surprised. There are probably so many you will only be able to scratch the surface. That’s good for you as long as you focus on a few and not try to hit them all.
A great place to find local networking events is local Facebook groups, social media, and Meetup. You’ll have to put on your nicest pair of shoes and head out for this one once you find an event.
Make sure if you’re going to networking events you prepare and approach them in the correct way.
There’s a mixed bag of people at networking events. Your goal is to engage kindly even to those who are only self-serving. The goal, though, is to keep your eye out for those who want to learn about you too, the most important ones. Don’t be the one who is only self-serving, either. You won’t get anywhere and you won’t make any good connections.
Benefits: You’ll meet amazing and business minded people from a lot of industries. Many of them just want to spout off their elevator speech and move on. There are a few that want to genuinely connect, though.
If you make the right connections you’ll eventually get a referral or two once you’ve built trust with your network.
Just like a networking event, social media gives you the opportunity to meet a lot of people. A Twitter chat can link you up with others in your industry or with people in your target audience.
Look for groups on Facebook and LinkedIn where you can join conversations with real people. Skip the groups that are full of self-promoting businesses, they’re a waste of your time. Everybody’s promoting, nobody’s looking.Skip social media groups where everyone's promoting and nobody's looking, they'll waste your time. Click To Tweet
Some Twitter hashtags have rich conversations in them and an engaged audience.
Benefits: You’ll meet amazing people who are already engaged in the topics that interest you. You’ll be able to learn more about your customers, competition, and connect with them both. You’ll be able to spark partnerships, relationships, and more.
You’ve probably worked with a lot of people along your career. Maybe you have connections at a company you previously worked at. Perhaps you have a friend in an industry you’d like focus on.
Whichever position you’re in, connect with old friends. The only thing you need to be careful about is not just appearing out of thin air asking for something. Establish your relationships again, be mutually helpful to your old connection.
Find a way you can benefit each-other so it’s not one-sided.
Benefits: You might have a rich network of old connections that you didn’t even know about. Your old connections could connect you with a good review or possibly a new customer.
The more connections you have the more opportunity to help each-other and turn that into a business opportunity.
Sometimes a directory is a good place for customers to find you. There are targeted directories and there are general directories. I’m sure you’ve heard of Yelp and Foursquare which are general business directories. You can have a Yelp account for almost any type of business while Foursquare is more for service businesses.
The most important part of setting up your business in directories is to never set it and forget it. Don’t set up your account and forget it or you’ll never see the benefits they will bring you. Sometimes you have to tweak the writing, sometimes you just need a review. Just make sure your business is set up the same on all directories. We streamline that process for you by managing your directory listings.
Don’t be shy to ask one of your previous customers (if you’ve had any) to leave you a review, just be sure you ask for reviews in the right way.
Benefits: If you put in the work and build your profile on the right directories, they’ll deliver leads to you. With one review and a well-formatted profile, you will get new leads.
There’s no better way to get leads than when they’re specifically looking for you. Directories are created for people looking for a service, you can meet their needs if you’re positioned right.
Just like people are looking for your type of company in directories, they’re also searching for your type of service. There are many different ways customers can find you through search engines, though.
Some people are searching in Google, some Bing. Others are using maps on their mobile app to find a local business. You’ll want to be ready for general search and business search.
Every day millions of people are searching for something they need. Whether it’s a product they need or a service, search engines are the place of choice to find it.
Optimizing your website to reach people searching for your type of business is a great first step. Google and other search engines will eventually start bringing traffic to your website if you offer something good.
With that traffic, a percentage of them will be interested in what you do.
Benefits: Customers will find your business from general search queries. If they’re searching and find you, they’re likely to already be interested in what you offer.
With proper optimization of your website for conversion, you’ll have a steady stream of leads.
It takes time to benefit from search engines but given time, you’ll have a steady stream of new leads delivered to you daily. That means you’ll establish a new stream of leads to your business that won’t stop coming.
Just like general search, business search has a lot of people searching for companies that do what you do. Google and other search engines blend business search with general search but displays them in a special section just for companies.
If you optimize your company for business search, it’ll also show up in places like maps. Sometimes customers are looking for a local business. You want to be seen in their search results.
Map apps are a great place to be seen and setting up your business in the right place will help you get seen. Apple maps pulls business results from Yelp while Google maps gets them from Google Business (surprise!).
In any case, you’ll want to create an account with Google, Bing, and Yelp. Those are the absolute minimum for most businesses but you may find there are more niche sites for your business.
Google even lets you post to your business listing so customer’s looking for you can find out about current promotions and more.
Benefits: Customers looking for a type of business or service will find your local business. This is a great way to be seen by customers looking fora service your business offers. It’ll deliver targeted customers right to your business door or website.
Write Helpful Information
This one ties into optimizing your website for search. Trust is built by helping people so they know your abilities. Sometimes giving them a taste of your expertise is what’s needed to get customers.
Writing helpful information is a great way to lead people to you. You can write on a blog on your website (like this one) or you can write elsewhere.
If you don’t have a blog there are still plenty of places you can write and attract potential customers. I recommend you download my free eBook with places you can write and still grow an audience that you can later promote your business to.
Solve someone’s problem and you’ll forever be remembered. Business is all about solving someone’s problem or making their life better. You can do that online by writing about it. Give people a taste of what you can do by giving them something to sample for free to build trust.
Benefits: You’ll build an audience that trusts you and will either recommend you or use your service when they’re in the market. This is one that takes time and planning but it will benefit you in the long run.
You’ll build your audience, trust, and eventually customers by giving them something first.
Give Something Away
If you give something away you’ll gain exposure for your business and give someone a taste of your awesomeness. You can either give something away at a local event or online. There are a number of websites you can promote your free giveaway on.
You will grow your email list too. You’re likely to add 500+ new subscribers to your email list easily. You can also have a contest on social media which will grow your following if that’s your goal.
Another great place to give something away is in your local community. You’ll gain exposure and potentially do something good at the same time. Schools are always looking for local businesses to give items for fundraisers and they’ll gladly give you credit.
Benefits: You can grow your email list, your social media following, or just gain local exposure for your business. There are a number of financial benefits to giving something away and in some cases, it can be for a good cause at the same time!
Sponsor a Local Event
Similar to giving something away above, you can simply sponsor a local event or industry event. With a small investment, you can support a good cause and grow your brand exposure.
If your business is primarily local, promoting your new business as a sponsor is a great opportunity to let people know you’re here.
Benefits: Grow your exposure in the local community and do good at the same time. People will learn about your business and see the good that you’re doing in the local community.
If you sponsor the right event with an audience that could be a potential customer then you’ll grow your brand exposure to new potential customers.
Reach Local Customers
Reaching out to customers locally can be a challenge. Sometimes it can be even more challenging than reaching out to people online.
There are a few places you can go to reach out and make connections with local customers, though. There are many local groups on Facebook. All you have to do is join the group and look for conversations that you can contribute to.Start local first, you're already part of your local community. There's time to expand later. Click To Tweet
There are apps that will connect you with local neighbors too. Nextdoor is a great place to connect with your neighbors. It’s not a promotion tool so you have to be careful, though.
Nextdoor recently released Nextdoor business pages which is an opportunity for your business to become part of the local neighborhood.
Benefits: Find and connect with new customers in your local community. If you only do business locally then this is a great way to build your brand in the local community. Being part of the community will give you direct connections with the people who will eventually help grow your business.
Sometimes you have to open your wallet and spend some money to get started. There are hundreds of different ways you can advertise. Finding the right place may be a chore but you can immediately reach almost anybody. If you have a compelling offer for them, you’re likely to see results.
Two of the most popular places to start advertising as a new business is Google AdWords and Facebook Ads. Google will reach people searching for something which is more targeted. Facebook will reach people when they’re doing something which can be well targeted but is more difficult.
Of course, there’s a lot of other different places to advertise, just make sure it’s going towards your target audience. Sometimes you have to balance organic marketing with paid marketing.
Benefits: You’ll be able to reach your target audience quickly and easily. If you have the money available to advertise, this is one of the easiest (but most expensive) ways to get started.
These methods are extremely targeted and can involve a lot of work. They may be the best way to start your business, though, because they’re so targeted.
Depending on your industry, some of these may work better than others.
Direct mail is something that isn’t obvious these days because we default to the online world. Postcards can be extremely effective, though. You’ll have direct contact with your target audience.
Because there aren’t as many businesses who use direct mail anymore you can stand out if you target your audience correctly. You may choose to send a postcard or you may choose to send a letter. It all depends on your goal but make sure whatever you choose it stands out.
Benefits: You’ll have direct contact with a person or a group of people you choose. You can reach a specific business you choose and warm them up for some of the next methods of promoting your new business.
If you have an offer they can’t refuse, email may be a good option. It’s direct, targeted, and can have real benefits. There is a fine line you have to walk between spam and email that people will open, though.
You can find email addresses for many businesses on their website but that doesn’t mean harvest them and send out a mass email. It’s bad etiquette (and illegal) to send out a mass email to people who didn’t opt-in.
If you use email, make it personal and unique for each person. Never send a mass email unsolicited or you’ll create a bad reputation for your business.
Benefits: Reach other businesses directly in the place they pay close attention. If you write an attention-grabbing subject and a brief email with clear action, you could begin a new business relationship.
Pick Up The Phone
The hardest place for someone to say no or ignore you is on the phone. That’s why picking up the phone and calling someone you’re targeting is the best way to go.
You don’t want to put pressure on but it’s perfectly fine to have a short script asking if they would be willing to have a more detailed chat later. You don’t want to bombard them with too much information on the first call, though.Don't underestimate the power of a phone call. People won't ignore you. Click To Tweet
If your target audience is another business then this method could be wonderful. Not many people call anymore (at least not real calls, just automated) so your chances of getting through are greater. It’s all about balancing your message with their time, though.
Benefits: The biggest benefit of picking up the phone is that you’re sure to get their attention. It’s much more difficult to ignore you if you’re on the phone and you can get a better sense of who you’re talking to. If you know who you’re talking to then you’ll be able to better tailor your message to them.
Check Your New Business
That brings us to the end of the list of ways you can promote your new business. Hopefully, you’ve gained some good insights and have something to try. I also urge you to leave in the comments any way you’ve found to promote your new business.
Promoting your business is great but if you don’t have a nice place to send customer to once you’ve got their attention, you’ve failed. That’s why building your brand online is the most important thing you can do as a small business.
I’ll give you the opportunity to make sure your brand is making as good of an impression as it should online. With a personalized Online Presence Report, I’ll tell you how your brand is doing and give you tips on ways to improve.
With an amazing brand presence online and promoting your business properly, you’ll have many streams of leads coming in and a place to help convert them into paying customers. That’s just what a new business needs to start growing towards success.