Proverbially, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. In a similar grain, a journey to a multi-million dollar company begins with a single customer.
That first sale (the first sales for that matter) is the most difficult for obvious reasons; you don’t have a huge following, your brand name carries no weight, and you don’t have nearly the exposure that a well-established company has. However, once you get those first sales out of the way, it’s all downhill from there.
But the question remains: how do you get that elusive first customer!?
To help with this dilemma, we here at Tryd have developed this list of 10 ways to help get your business off to a great start!
1. Reach out to your network
First of all, don’t take your existing network for granted! Those who are already in your network are in an excellent position to offer feedback about products you offer and the market you are in. Your existing network, even if it is small, is still an invaluable resource, as these people are already warmed up to you and will be likely to offer honest and helpful feedback.
Ask for referrals from your network as well; even if these people aren’t current customers, it is likely that they know people or businesses that have a need for the products and service that you offer. This is an excellent way to find potential customers that closely fit your company.
Besides getting feedback and market information, remember that this existing network could contain several future customers! It is important to feel connected to your network and make sure that those in your network stay in your network!
2. Offer a free service or product
It may seem counter-intuitive, but it truly is one of the ways to get the attention of potential customers, and get that first customer. The basic concept is that you offer your service or product for free. This could be a free carpet cleaning, a free trial of an online service, and countless other things. The goal is that you will make a statement with this free service.
For example, the next time that family needs their carpet cleaned, they will have been impressed by the free cleaning, and will be willing to pay you to do it. For the free online service, hopefully the month long trial you offered was impressive and showed the business that it is worth it to keep the service and pay for it.
The key for this is quality: your service must be worth it, and the free trial or free service must make an impression on the potential customer! If you can do this, you will get many customers from this approach.
3. Cold Contact (depends on industry type - calling, emailing, door to door etc.)
Sometimes a great way to get customers is to just roll up your sleeves and put in some hard work cold contacting potential customers. The way you decide to do this will definitely depend on your industry type; calling, emailing, and going door to door are all ways of cold contacting potential customers. I know from experience that this may not be the most glamorous or exciting, and it can be frustrating, but it really is a tried and true method of getting your name out there and finding potential customers.
Make sure to be confident and personable, as this first impression is essential in these cold contacting situations. There is certainly a stigma against telemarketers and other such stiff and repetitive marketers, right?! So don’t be “that guy”!! I can tell you from my experience in using all three of these cold contacting methods that a natural, unscripted conversation is much, much better and more effective than a memorized script. You need to relate to the person you are contacting, and make them feel comfortable (not confrontational!) while you are trying to offer them your product or service.
4. Attend an event
Attending an event can be a great way to get your name out there, and especially a way to meet influencers and potential customers. You can learn a lot about the nature of your market by going to these events.
Depending on the event size, you could bring sample products, or a way to get on an emailing list or some way to contact potential customers that showed an interest in your services.
To maximize the return from such an event, make sure to talk to the most people that you can, and be bold! Don’t be embarrassed about asking experts in your market questions, or potential customers about what it would take for them to switch to your service.
Going the extra mile, especially in person, will show your drive and dedication, and could win over collaborators, and those first customers!
5. Social Media/Network online
These days, it’s hard to meet anyone that isn’t connected in some form on social media, especially with the younger generation. So a crucial way to find customers is by utilizing social media to get your name out and build rapport with these potential customers.
Post any content you have recently created on your website as a way to drive traffic to those articles as well. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, any and all you can keep up as a company, these social media platforms will keep your hand on the pulse of your market.
Not only will you find customers, you will figure out how you can stay on top of your market and ahead of your competitors. Using this online network strategy is so important to keep your company relevant in this fast-changing world we live in.
Although it is another example of networking online, because it is so important, I am dedicating an entire step to the use of Linkedin. When you think of Linkedin, you may think that it is only useful for job-hunting, but when used correctly, it is a potent networking tool. I will hit the basics here in this article.
- Define what type of customer you are looking for:
If you don’t know what you are looking for in a potential customer, it is unlikely that you will be able to find that first customer! Think about who needs your product or service; what age range, family type, income level, etc. are the ideal fit for your product? This will help direct your marketing efforts in general, and is critical to keep in mind while creating a specific and effective Linkedin profile.
- Define what problem your product or service solves for your potential customers:
Related to step 1, make sure you know why people need your product! There is some problem or inconvenience that your product or service solves. That’s why you’re in business! So make sure you play to that solution, to show your ideal potential customer why it’s worth it for them to pay for that solution!
- Create a sophisticated, attractive Linkedin profile
Your profile needs to be attractive for potential customers. It needs to catch their attention, and make them want to look through the rest of your profile. It should be clean and simple, with catchy text, nothing too long, especially on the first page they see. It must be professional, and exude an aura of something well done, it will translate to the way people view your business. Be compelling in the text that you do write, don’t go overboard and try to sell them right from your headline! You just want to catch people’s attention, and make connections with these potential customers.
- Build relationships with Linkedin connections
Now that you have an awesome profile, you need to reach out to people, and you should focus on those that fit your ideal customer profile. Same idea as before, don’t go overboard in selling the customer in your welcome message, just try to get to know and start to build relationships with these connections. Work with conversation starters, try to get the prospect to participate in the dialogue, it shouldn’t be a one sided sales pitch. Same idea as before, be natural and genuine, and potential customers will feel comfortable to connect with you, this will build the confidence they will need to convert to be a paying and loyal customer.
- Keep in touch with Linkedin connections
Keep your existing connections in the loop with your new business developments, as well as when you post new content on your website, or any upcoming events. Make sure to always respond to people that reach out to you, and keep in touch with those people that consistently show their interest in your business.
- Reach out directly to customers
This could be a call or a video chat, but the idea is to directly talk to the potential customer with whom you have built a relationship; it’s great way to talk openly and offer your business’s services. You can talk and get to know them, this will help you to get to know the market better as well as that specific customer.
- Build professionality and authority of your profile
Write recommendations for other profiles that you have been communicating or working with, when you do so, Linkedin will notify them, and prompt them to write a recommendation for you. These recommendations are similar to customer reviews on a site such as Amazon, except for that they are more formal, and carry more weight on Linkedin, these recommendations are powerful tools that will boost the authority of your profile, as potential customers will see those that have worked with you and your business before.
- Rinse and Repeat steps 4-7
Keep up the good work! Keep reaching out to new people, building these relationships, and improving your profile! With this work on your part, you will be able to build the foundation for many sales through the use of Linkedin.
7. Reach out to influencers/Guest posting
Reaching out to influencers (experts or authorities) within your market or even in a related market can be a huge accomplishment, as they can give helpful tips for you as you start out your business, and can help by putting your name out to their connections or the public in general. You could invite them to share an article you have written, or to write something on your website. That way, they will get some free advertising as well, and you will both help each other. The respect and reputation that these influencers garner will give your company a boost, and could lead you to that first sale!
Guest posting is a related idea, the concept is that you post on other people’s sites, with the goal that people will see your post and then click over to your website to learn more about your answer, your company, and your products. This can take time, especially as you are starting out, but a sustained effort should bring more and more customers to your site as they see you on other sites as an authoritative source of information in your posts. Guest blogging can also build relationships between your business and another business or influencer, which can help your business immensely as well.
8. Partnership (w/other product or company)
Depending on the industry, partnering up with another product or company can be a huge success. A great example of this is Spotify and Hulu partnering up to offer a two-for-one package, the two combined get more sales than either company would have gotten alone.
The basic idea is to partner with another company to get your name out there. By collaborating on a campaign, you can get noticed by a much wider range of customers, thus leading to more sales and subsequent growth.
The discounted price or two services for one will often be just the incentive that a customer needs to decide to take a chance on your company.
Two companies with different but complementary strengths can combine to create a unique product or service that is tough to be matched by a smaller company alone.
9. Contest or giveaway
Running a contest or giveaway, especially on social media, can be a great way to increase the amount of people willing to post your content or brand name, and increase overall exposure to potential customers.
A contest will garner excitement, and could even prompt some customers to purchase a product or start a trial of your service. It doesn’t have to be a huge contest, or a giveaway that will break the bank - just think of something clever that you can relate to your business, and something that will make people excited to participate.
This can be a great way to add people to your email list as well, and gain more followers for your website and company in general on social media and the like.
10. Facebook ads
Facebook ads are just an example (you could choose google or another site that runs ads), but it is a simple way to get more traffic to your website. The downside is that you have to pay for these ads, but if you invest wisely with a good strategy, the money invested in ads can pay dividends in paying customers.
Make sure you make these ads specific so that they target your intended audience, this will lead to a greater number of successes in customer conversion, which will lead to larger profits. You may have to put in some money up front, but that may be part of the price to pay for you to start to find those customers!
As you can see, there are various customer-finding strategies. We here at Tryd suggest that you apply several of these ideas to give yourself a better chance of finding out what works for you and your product and service. Also, don’t be afraid to adapt one of these ideas, or use a totally different idea!
The point is that it is not easy to find that first customer, but with a good strategy and plan, and then lots of hard work and follow through, you will get that first customer and your business will be off and running. You can do it!
Good luck in the search for customers!