Top tips for finding customers for your new business
In the UK at the start of 2020 there were 5.94 million small businesses (0 to 49 employees), so it's important to make yours stand out from the crowd. Which is why we've put together our top 10 tips on how to find new customers for your small business.
1. Revamp your online presence
Having a good website is extremely important when it comes to attracting new customers. How you present your business online, represents your quality of service, and will have a direct impact on whether potential customers decide to get in touch or not. Your website should include:
- Contact details - email, phone number and office address (if applicable).
- Customer reviews.
- 'About' info that gives a clear indication of who you are, and why your customers should choose you over your competitors.
- Images/description of your product/service (proof of skill).
2. Ask your current customers to refer you
Referrals are one of the best ways to get new customers, especially if you've got a good reputation. But it definitely isn't the fastest. If your current customers can recommend your business to their friends and family, then word of mouth can go a long way. You can implement this as simply as sending an email out to your customers asking for them to share your name with those who may be interested.
3. Targeted digital marketing
Whether you're a plumber, gardener or carpenter, you can always promote your work on social media. Whether that's showcasing past jobs, upcoming events or new training.
Once you've identified your intended customer, you can target your social media posts to reach these people. This could include their age, gender, location or occupation. You can drill this down even further targeting household income and whether your customer has children at a certain age. Paid advertising or sponsored posts on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn will guarantee your ad is seen by people who meet your chosen criteria. Helping you to attract new customers and stay front of mind with existing ones.
4. Learn search engine optimisation (SEO)
It's all well and good having a professional website that shows off all your best work, but if you don't have traffic being driven to it, then it won't be seen.
You can hire SEO experts, but this can be costly, especially when you're starting out. By teaching yourself SEO, you can generate more traffic to your site and get a greater understanding of what your customers are actually looking for. Hubspot offers a free training course that will teach you about all things SEO and LinkedIn's SEO Foundation Course is perfect for beginners. Moz has also produced a handy six-part video guide to SEO. Each section is only ten minutes long, so within an hour you'll know all the basics to apply to your business. If you search "SEO for Beginners" on YouTube, you'll also find loads of great tutorials and tips.
Sign up to an SEO short course online, and learn the best way to get your website seen.
5. Make the most of online reviews
When a potential customer Google searches your name, it will most likely bring up review sites. And they're more likely to trust your business if they see other customers praising it. Ask your current customers to leave you positive reviews about how they felt looked after by your business, and about the quality of the work you did for them. Then, link these to your website and share them on your social media platforms. It's also worth getting your business listed on directories like Check a Trade.
6. Get involved in your community
More than ever, people are wanting to support local businesses. By getting your name out there at local events, you can bring in new businesses and raise your profile in your hometown. Consider sponsoring a fun run, participating in a charity day or supplying a football team with their kit – making sure it has your logo on it!
7. Offer discounts and incentives to new customers only
Everyone loves a bargain. It could be that on their first service they get 10% off, or that if they spend over a certain price they get something extra. Whatever it is, a discount/incentive could be the thing that gives you the edge over your competitors. And after their first time as a customer, you can continue to contact them, e.g. through email campaigns or newsletters, to promote your service. With the aim of keeping them on as a long-term customer.
8. Contact old customers
Your business might be one that isn't needed every day. For example, if you're a plumber, you may only be contacted when someone has a leaky tap. But it's important to always stay front of mind. Create a database of every customer and when they last made contact, or a purchase, along with any notes that can help you deliver a more personal service. For example, if you're a florist be sure to include your customer's favourite colours and types of flower. And perhaps they order from you the same time every year for a friend or family member's birthday. Information like this will give you reasons to pick up the phone, or drop them an email. Customers value personalisation.
9. Partner up
To grow your customer base, you may wish to partner up with other businesses in your local area that have a similar customer base, but aren't directly competitive. For example, if you make bespoke cakes, perhaps you could partner up with a local florist offering discounts to each other's products. This will help build brand awareness and also relationships with other businesses in your community. Sharing and commenting on other businesses' social posts will help get you seen and also show that you're supportive of local business.
10. Go back to basics
If the internet isn't your thing, or even if it is, the basics still work. Put flyers through people's doors, hand out leaflets in town, or put up posters. Email campaigns are also a very effective way of promoting your business straight into someone's inbox, but it's worth keeping data protection rules in mind if you do go down this route.
There are lots of small business groups and communities, both online and in person. You never know who you might meet. The people you speak with may not necessarily need your product or service right now, but they may know someone else who does.
However you go about finding new customers, we hope that these top tips will help you get there. And just remember - a happy customer is a loyal customer.