Ever heard that phrase “If you’re not growing, you’re dying” used in reference to business? In many instances, it's true.
Recruiting and retaining new customers on a consistent basis is key to success, whether they come rolling in through organic search or through word-of-mouth referrals. Loyal, repeat customers are great, but you need a steady stream of new blood to keep the growth trajectory on an upward slope.
How does one go about introducing the business to new customers when all of your good ideas have dried up?
There’s no science or magical formula that will guarantee new customers, but there are certainly ways to encourage growth and referrals. A lot of it has to do with simply being nice.
Let’s start with the basics.
Actually Keep Track of Existing Customers and Hot Leads
As an entrepreneur, you’re pretty skilled, but no one is a super-human who can remember every customer need and past conversation. That’s why a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system should be in place to help keep track of current and future customers.
CRMs are easy to use and perform basic functions, such as storing notes on the last interaction with the customer, providing alerts for follow-ups, and tracking purchase history. CRMs integrate smoothly with your other systems (i.e. sales, referral tracking, etc.) and should help create a big-picture image of the client-customer relationship.
Zoho, Batchbook, and Salesforce are a few popular CRM options.
Revamp Your Marketing & Sales Emails
What happens when a client or customer fills out a form on your site, or asks to get in touch? Do they receive an automated email with pertinent and helpful info? If so, when was the last time you took a look at it?
Keeping potential customers looped in is extra important-- if they feel like you're looking out for them, they're more likely to stick around.
Whatever strategy you choose, you need a process (make sure it's written down and clear to all employees):
Decide what a prospect receives when they sign up-- will it be an email? A phone call? What's the process? (The same thing should happen for every customer).
Decide what emails you'll send, and on what day they'll hit the person (these emails should be different for those who are prospective customers versus those who have actually signed up).
If you have a growing customer base and can't reach out to everyone personally, get email marketing software to automate some of this process for you (Campaign Monitor, Constant Contact, and MailChimp are all good choices).
Leverage Your Social Media
Social media is a great place to look for new customers by monitoring relevant conversations (especially on Twitter) to see where you can jump in and introduce yourself as a resource, sales outlet, or relevant participant in the conversation.
Say you own a business that sells pink car accessories. Instead of engaging only with those who mention you by name, search for conversations with keywords like “pink steering wheel” and “#girlycar” to discover opportunities to compliment and connect with potential new customers.
Tools like SproutSocial and Hootsuite are great tools not only for scheduling out content, but also for monitoring those relevant conversations.
Make Phone Calls
Yes, sometimes the thought of making an ACTUAL phone call in our world of email and texting makes us cringe, especially if we haven't spoken with someone before. But making those calls is essential if you want to forge real connections.
A few ways to make phone calls more successful:
Do your homework. Know as much as you can about the person you are calling (and be sure to pronounce their name correctly!)
Be nice to the receptionist/assistant. Be personable, to the point, and confident.
Be mindful of other people’s schedules and ask, “Is now a good time?”
Show your excitement with whoever you're calling, and try not to push too hard. Remember-- this is about making connections, not selling them hard on what you provide.
Cold-calling is a tough way to land a new customer, but follow-up calls can be more promising if you initially got a “maybe.” Hang in there, don’t get disheartened, and stay positive. Sometimes it’s the human voice that works better than an email.
Offer Referral Credits
Referrals are one of the most powerful tools for getting new customers introduced to your business. Think about it: Why wouldn’t you trust a recommendation from a friend? It saves you the time of looking around and there’s an element of trust that’s pre-established.
Offering referral credits only further incentivizes that process. If your work or product is good, customers will be happy to refer you—but the introduction of credits adds a driving force.
For example, say you own an insurance company. Your clients are in a long-term relationship with you, so by offering referral credits to their monthly bill, you create a win-win situation that makes both parties REALLY happy.
Write Thank You Notes
Ah, the power of the handwritten thank you note! There’s nothing like getting a real piece of mail. Taking the time to sit down and write a thoughtful message (not an email!) is a great way to show your customers how much you value them—and is a sincere way to approach a potential new relationship.
The next time you go to a networking event, try to get three or four names and companies written down, and follow up with a hand-written “nice to meet you” note. It will surprise and delight your new acquaintance and reinforces those initial positive feelings.
Fill Your Website With Testimonials
Before people make buying decisions, they usually look for reviews and opinions about the product or service they’re considering.
They want proof that they're going to get their money's worth (marketers often call this social proof). There’s a ton of different types of sources of social proof out there, but one simple thing you can do is to fill your website with testimonials.
Offer a Free Trial
A sure way to get someone hooked on your service is to let them try it out. If they love it, they won't be able to leave. They'll be willing to pay up when the free trial ends.
Unbounce, a landing page testing solution, offers a 30-day free trial. That's just enough time for users to try out the product and see its value.
And, instead of encouraging users to pay up, Unbounce uses 'Start my 30-day free trial' as a nudge to convert. Pretty effective!
Don’t be afraid to partner up for an event or promotion with another business. If the collaboration makes sense, it will be beneficial to both of you—not a competition. You’ll both get introduced to new, relevant audiences and will have twice the opportunities to make new connections.
A perfect example: A boutique owner partners with a local fashion blogger for a special evening of shopping, sweet treats, and mingling. Blogger Keiko Lynn often does this very type of event. The boutique attracts a relevant audience from the blogger, and the blogger gets either a percentage of the evening’s sales or free product.
Special events are an easy way to get new customers in the door (or to your website) that don’t have to cost a fortune—and can be much more impactful than a traditional ad.
Introduce Your Brand Effectively
There you have it: Seven easy ways you can get your brand in front of new customers. No more losing sleep over the lack of growth—if you can give each of these a try, you’re sure to see that new customer list get longer and longer.
Your Turn: What other tactics would you recommend for introducing a business to new customers?