Are you a startup business owner wondering how to attract your first client? You're not alone. Every industry faces this same challenge. But fear not, there are smart and effective strategies you can use to identify and attract those critical first customers. In this article, we'll explore some of the best ways to get your business off the ground and start building a loyal customer base.
First on the list is to make a list. As you've done the groundwork to launch your business, you've undoubtedly met some people who could be potential customers. Perhaps you surveyed individuals in a focus group or connected with people on social media who showed an interest in your product or service. Start by putting them on a list of prospects. B2B startups can put businesses they've interacted with on the list. Additionally, you can do some research online to find companies that are likely buyers for what you sell and add them to your list.
Next up is to look for referrals. Ask everyone you know if they know someone who might buy what you're selling. Referrals can come from unexpected places, so alert your social media connections, neighbors, former co-workers, and even distant cousins that you're looking for customers. Enlist your spouse, friends, and other connections to help brainstorm ideas for first customers, too.
Working your network is also a great strategy. Find out what local business networking groups exist for your industry and attend some of their meetings. Focus on sharing how you can help others, not just on how they can help you. Connecting with other business owners is a great way to sniff out prospects, whether you sell B2B or B2C.
Showing off your product or service at trade shows is also a great way to attract your target customer. If you're starting a wedding planning business, for example, exhibiting at a bridal trade show would be ideal. Be sure to have your pitch and marketing materials ready for when potential customers stop by your booth.
Attending industry events is another effective way to network and build connections with potential customers. If you're selling B2B, you don't necessarily have to pay for a booth to benefit from a trade show or industry conference. Just attending the event armed with marketing materials like business cards or sales sheets can help you make valuable connections.
Team up with other business owners who have complementary, rather than competitive, products or services. Ask them about connecting you with prospective clients. If you're starting a pool cleaning business, for example, see if local lawn-care companies know of any clients whose pools are looking shabby and ask for a referral.
Building an online presence is crucial in today's digital age. Get your website up and running, even if it's just a simple site. Use search engine optimization (SEO) to get found when people search online for what you sell. Your first customer could very well come from a search engine. Additionally, starting up your social media accounts before your business officially launches is a great way to generate excitement about your grand opening, products or services. Use social media advertising to target people who meet your target market criteria and get them to follow you for updates. Encourage them to spread the word to their friends, and so on, and so on.
Once you've landed that first customer, make sure to treat them like gold. Make sure they're satisfied and work to keep their business. As you build a history with your first customers, turn them into brand advocates to help attract more customers and gather customer testimonials you can use to promote your business.
Attracting your first customers may seem daunting, but with the right strategies, it can be done.