Finding Customers How to start your business

How to Find Your First Customers

The first sale you gain for your new business venture will probably bring more satisfaction than any other sale you gain in the future. It will validate all your hard-work, your vision and your idea. That first couple of sales are vital for a start-up’s growth and success.

Even if you have a fantastic business idea, if you fail to gain any paying customers then it’s not a business, it’s just a fantastic idea.

That’s why we thought it would be helpful to explore and discuss some tried and tested methods for promoting a start-up, to hopefully provide inspiration for your small business marketing plan and for securing those all-important first sales.

Utilise Existing Relationships

A relatively easy method to gain orders for your new business venture is to utilise your existing relationships, whether that be your family, your friends or your partner. Ask them to share your business over their social media profiles, try out your products and recommend your company to their friends and family. You may be surprised by how big your current social circle is and how many people within that circle are happy to support your latest business endeavour.

Explore your LinkedIn connections to discover, network and schmooze with your existing business contacts. Also, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone to softly pitch your company, as you never know what someone’s response may be. Additionally, if you know any local business owners it could be a smart move to try and run a joint competition to celebrate the launch of your new business. The winner could gain prizes combining products from both businesses.

Paid Advertising
PPC stands for pay-per-click and is a form of internet marketing in which advertisers pay a fee each time one of their ads is clicked. This method of marketing is vital for online business success and if you have the budget, a great way to kickstart your online campaign. It can give your small business that online boost it requires to grow in a controlled manner . PPC can also provide an opportunity for you to create more targeted campaigns through Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. You can target adverts at potential customers in specific locations, or by their gender, age and interests.

Paid advertising is one of the most effective ways to grow your new business online, especially when nobody knows who you are. As more and more potential customers are searching for businesses and services online both PPC and SEO are vitally important for a successful business. So, where PPC is around paid advertising, SEO is a method of strategies and techniques used to increase the number of visitors to a website organically. If you’re interested in learning more about SEO then read our previous post on What is SEO.

PR
Understandably, most new businesses generally won’t have a huge budget set aside for creative PR campaigns, but that doesn’t mean that PR should be put on the back burner. Even for small businesses and start-ups, PR can be a fantastic way to bring in new customers.

In this digital savvy era, online PR is becoming more and more important for small business growth. Free platforms, such as HARO, can help to boost your online presence and to build high-quality links and coverage for your company. If you’ve never heard of HARO before, then basically they supply daily opportunities for you to secure valuable media coverage, all for free. Another great way to secure online coverage is to search #journorequests or #mediarequests on Twitter to see if any requests are relevant for your company and brand.

Local press will be interested in your new business, so throw a launch party and ensure to invite any relevant local journalists. Offer freebies and special offers as an incentive for potential customers to attend.

Offer Free trials or Samples
Chanette Sparks, CEO & Founder at IBJ PR & Marketing, gave her advice on offering free samples to win over new customers.

‘‘I know about this topic because I, myself was a start-up a few years ago. I think one of the best ways to find a first customer is to offer services for free or at a major discount. My very first client was a pro-bono project. Once the company saw my work and experienced my services, they used me repeatedly, and still do to this day. I have also picked up large clients by offering cheaper services compared to my competitors.’’

Chanette’s experience is a fitting example as to how offering a free service can not only secure your first sale, but can also help to create a loyal customer base. Once you give your customer something for free, they feel special and everyone enjoys feeling valued. This means they will be more likely to become a returning customer!

Social Media

Social media is a brilliant way for new businesses to discover and engage with potential customers. Once you’ve set up your social media profiles across relevant channels, utilise each platform to find potential customers and engage with influential people in your industry.

For example, if you’ve launched a female clothing business then find influential women with large followings over Instagram to share and discuss your new clothing brand. Use appropriate hashtags, such as #springstyle, to find and follow potential new customers which fit in your target market.

Utilise platforms such as Hootsuite and Hashtagify.me to discover relevant hashtags and to gain an understanding as to what your target audience are currently talking about.

Feedback and Reviews are Vital
When a new business launches, a top priority should be to build trust with customers. People will automatically be wary of you as you’re a new company, so positive reviews are vital for promoting and growing your business.

It can be hard to gain reviews at first, so consider offering free products for customers that provide a positive review as an incentive.

A small business relies on its reputation, so make it an absolute priority to impress your first customers. Word of mouth can be incredibly powerful and should never be underestimated Especially now that customers are becoming more digitally savvy and leaving reviews on Google and Facebook, which can instantly be seen if someone searches for your company.

Hopefully this article has given you a few handy tips and pointers on gaining your first customers and for launching a successful small business marketing plan.

Let us know if you found any of these tips helpful over on our Twitter and Facebook.

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