If you're a new business then the next thing you're going to need are lovely new clients.
So, how do you find new clients?
The only way to do this is to actively put your business name out there and aim to get it in front of the right people: your target market.
Consistently marketing your business with content focused on your target market, over a range of platforms that work for you, is the only way to be successful.
There's no point in designing a great website or creating an Instagram account and then leaving it to die - but then still expecting the phone to ring!
Marketing is a song and dance of many different elements that all need to work together.
So, if you are scratching your bum wondering where to start - I've got a little list of ideas for you, to help you get started ..
1. WEBSITE - your piece of the internet
Having a website that you can direct people to is super professional: it's your piece of the internet and you've invest time or money into it. This allows potential clients to check you out in private and make an informed decision if you're right for them.
So, your website should:
give them all of the information they expect to find (what do you do, who do you do it for and how much)
loads quickly and the site is responsive on all devices
offer intuitive navigation and be able to find all relevant info easily
blow them away with awesome design and clever written content
look fresh and beautiful so they know you mean business
know exactly how to get in touch with you or straight out buy your service / product
People won't hang around if your website is naff so it should be one of the biggest investments you make in your marketing.
But then it's no good just launching a website and expecting the phone to magically start ringing. Make your website work for you - check out my post Reasons Why Your Website's Not Working for more support on this.
2. SOCIAL MEDIA - grow your audience
If you're starting a new business with no audience you should consistently be on social media for at least 3 to grow your audience and gain trust. Your content should be focused on your target market and it should cover 3 types of audiences (i.e. hot, warm and cold).
There are a number of different platforms you can explore so start with one or two obvious ones - learn how they work and then suss out which content you are posting gets the best engagement.
Remember that it is 'social' media, so don't just post and run and then wonder why no one is engaging with you. Plus content can just be commenting on someone's else's post, so there is no excuse to put the effort in.
It's up to you how personal you go with your content (i.e. talking about your family, swearing or expressing polarising political views) - my advice is that if it feels weird and you're not comfortable with it, don't do it.
TIP: get on Canva, which is a FREE design tool and start designing your launch adverts / posts.
If you're not creative or lack inspiration, you can use their templates - BUT always modify the content elements to your branding (i.e the colours, imagery and fonts).
3. LAUNCH CAMPAIGN / PROMOTIONAL OFFER - generate awareness on a huge scale
This is a great excuse to go nuts and advertise your business. Create a sense of #FOMO and offer time-limited promotion but stick to something that is tried and tested and simple - like, 50% off, buy One Get One Free, etc .. the point is to make it REALLY tempting. So no silly 10% discounts please.
In this situation you need to ask yourself: would you rather have 50% of money coming for a limited time, gain great reviews, repeat business and recommendations OR have 0% coming in, full stop.
If you are still growing your audience, create a realistic time-frame for the launch of your offer, so that people can actually see it and have time to decide.
4. CASE STUDY / MODEL CALL - bag your first client
It's said that people don't appreciate things that are free but I believe when you are starting out in business, there's no shame in doing this. I have done it in all of my business ventures and it has kick started my business beautifully.
When you offer your services / products as a free trial the return you get is priceless:
a testimonial / feedback
consideration content for your marketing
and (hopefully) repeat business and recommendations
But just so that you don't mug yourself off, my advice would be to offer a taster of your service / product for free - rather than going all out. This way both parties are compromising and benefitting: WIN / WIN.
5. EMAIL MARKETING - one to many introduction
Get in touch with your target audience and introduce your business to them. Grab yourself a list of businesses that you want to email and design your ice-breaking content. The key to this form of advertising is that you can choose who's Inbox you want to land in and you to create a great first impression:
make the design will be specific to your brand
be clear on what you do and what they benefits are
offer them an exclusive introductory promotion
direct them to a dedicated landing page on your website, where they have all details, including prices
make it easy for them to by from you
I launched my business with an introductory email to 20 businesses and got 3 clients, plus further leads from people that read my email and recommended me to someone else they knew.
With digital marketing you should always include your website link, so they can check you out immediately after reading your email - so always consider creating a landing page for people to visit first.
6. YOUR HOT AUDIENCE - those that love you
These are people who already know you, know you are good at what you do and therefore trust you:
Current clients - upsell or suggest your other services / products
Previous clients - would they like to buy from you again
Friends and Family - would they buy from and recommend you
Reach out to your hot audience with a telephone call or direct email because these are the people who will be the first to recommend and buy from you again.
7. NETWORKING - WAIT! please stay with me...
This doesn't have to be the worst word in the world for a small business owner. I used to think it was all suits, handshakes and people talking about themselves. But basically it just means actively getting out there and making new connections.
A wise person (Jo Watson aka A Good Write Up) once told me: "YOU are the U in your USP". And it's so true. You are the champion of your business and no one can sell it authentically, better than you.
There are a couple of different ways you can tackle networking, for example:
The Arranged Meeting - the one where you pay to go to a venue (or on Zoom) and meet a whole bunch of people - and yes, talk about yourself and listen to others do the same. I definitely recommend doing at least one of these events to see if it works for you. There are different types of networking events, so choose one that suits your style (from monthly friendly elevenses to weekly referral breakfasts). Each time I go I make a great new business connection or bag a future client.
Out and About - this is where I do my best networking. I am quite a sociable person and have plenty of chances to get out of the house, so every chance I get, I let people know what it is I do - whether it's when I'm home educating my son, chatting to my neighbour or at the shops buying food. I still get invited to parties because I'm not weird about it - but when the moment presents itself: the seed is planted.
I got my latest lead whilst seeing my hygienist for a check up! #Bosh
Social Media - suss out and find key people within your industry and/or local area. Search for the people, business titles and industries who you would like to work with. Search for people who you think can support you in your business and vice versa. Follow them, Like them, comment on and share their content. Above all, say 'hi' and introduce yourself, find common ground to get a conversation started, then share your content of value.
TIP: Don't network expecting everyone you meet to become a client - this is about meeting like-minded businesses / people who you can support and vice versa. Spread the word that you exist and what it is you do, in a friendly and non-obligational way.
8. BUSINESS CARDS - the timeless approach
Come on, now - when you start a business (apart from giving it a name) who doesn't get all excited about having a business card with your name on it? Or perhaps you think business cards have gone out with the dinosaurs because of digital marketing? Well, it's time to get excited again because this is what makes them special:
Handing over a business card has a timeless and personal touch.
So when you have pushed the button on Networking, the next thing you need is a cool business card to support your professional image (it says that you are organised enough to have one and that you've invested a bit of money into buying one).
But, the most important thing about having a business card: make sure it has all of the relevant and key information. Check out my Business Card Absolute Must Haves.
9. FLYERS & BROCHURES - snazzy eye catching materials
If you are a local business, then designing an eye-catching flyer or postcard and leaving them in key places (i.e. networking events and places that your target market hang out) is definitely worth your while.
Remember to make your business name and branding prominent and then keep the content simple - only include the relevant information:
Your contact details and website or social media links
What is is you do
Who you do it for
Why you are the best
Any special offer you are promoting
10. BLOGGING - show off your expertise
Having a regular blog is so much more than just fluffing up your site's SEO - it means that you can demonstrate you are an expert in your field by sharing your knowledge and experience:
- When you answer specific questions that your ideal client has and use longtail key words, you will get that organic lead generation. This is called awareness content and is focused towards your cold audience.
- You can also share case studies and statistics of success over your blog, again using long tail keywords. This is called consideration content and is focused towards your warm audience.
You can then share this content in bite sized pieces over social media throughout the week - linking it all back to your blog / website / you. You're welcome.
11. LINKEDIN PROFILE - the professional platform
So, you've got a sweet website to show off your business and then you need create a cool LinkedIn profile to show off YOU, the Business Owner - the person who started that little gem and now works their butt off for it.
Network - LinkedIn has millions of people waiting to do business. These are people who would hire you, collaborate with you, recommend you and share their knowledge with you. And vice versa.
About you - you can write loads more on your profile than you ever could on your CV, so you get to prove how good you are. You can include: projects, test results, courses, case studies, presentations, videos, documentation, spreadsheets, images, patents, testimonials and endorsements. I know, right??
Marketing Media - pop your profile link in your email signature and on your website. You can even download and save it as a PDF to send to potential clients.
Business - find your ideal client (if this is where they lurk) or join groups for businesses within your industry, where you can collaborate and share information, knowledge, advice and give support.
Get Found - LinkedIn's SEO is spot on, so when people Google your name, your profile appears at the top of the list (and when you own your own business, people will Google you).
Wow. I mean .. why wouldn't you have one?
Check out How to Write a Proper LinkedIn Profile, which takes you through step by step.
12. MARKETING MATERIALS - put your brand everywhere
Get your Brand message out there with visually beautiful materials, such as:
Business brochure - an abridged version of your website*
Flyers - what you do, then benefits of your business and call to action*
Email signature - who you are, what you do and how to find out more*
Social media banners - what you offer and call to action*
Favicon - your business icon*
Other - uniforms, car stickers, carrier bags
*You don't have to spend any money getting these printed - turn them into PDF's and PNG's and send them in emails / upload to your website.
TIP: when you are designing any marketing for your small business, make sure that it has a clear purpose, keep your ideal client in mind and has an obvious call to action, where people can easily contact you, book with you or buy from you.
When Should You Market Your Business?
Always. Continue to market your business, from day one and even when you are fully booked.
If you drop the ball and leave your marketing to when you have no work coming in, it means you will be desperate - and this will show. Moreover, you might resort to mad promotional discounts or taking on clients that are a giant pain in the arse.
You are better than that.
Taking on more clients than you can handle is surely the best case scenario and means you are growing. This is when scaling up and leveraging your business are the next natural stages, so automating and outsourcing will be your priorities.
Check out my interview with Automation guru, Jason Martin and his Top 10 Automation Tools.
Plan Your Annual Marketing Strategy
Create a Marketing Plan for the year ahead because it's the ONLY way to run a great business, yo!
Planning ahead means:
You know what your business will be doing month to month (and not taking each month as it comes)
You will be proactive instead of reactive (and not prompting things too late)
You will know where your business will be in 12 months (and that you plan to be around that long!)
You can anticipate the quieter months (and keep your business going during this time)
Your plan can obviously be flexible and reactive to whatever unexpected thing happens - and this is all about being a great opportunistic and resourceful Business Owner.
You are more than welcome to Subscribe to my 'Cool Stuff' page which involves monthly posts like this, aimed at helping small businesses with their design and marketing strategies.