- Jun 19, 2018
- Posted by: Claire
- Category: For Small Business Owners, Online Marketing, Site Traffic
You have the website.
You’ve written a mother load of posts.
You thought that if you “built it, the people would come”.
But they haven’t.
And although you’ve tried a few ways to get more customers online, you have a million other tasks – core business tasks – that also need doing.
You realise that you need to gather momentum so that your small business can grow.
But how can you find more customers online without neglecting everything else you need to do?
I’ll share 5 methods in a mo’, but before you hop on over to them, let’s take a look at what you first need to know:
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Know your target audience
“Men 35 to 55 years old” is a start, and better than nothing, but it won’t get you anywhere. Use Up Close and Persona to create a detailed profile of your target customer. The greater the detail, the better.
When you know who your prospects are, what their needs are, where they hang out, what they’re looking for, you can then begin to get their attention.
Knowing your audience may even result in the deciding factor of which method to use to find more customers. Because according to your audience, some marketing mediums may work better than others.
Spend time planning
Before you spend time learning about the various online ways to get more business, or even waste precious profits, define for yourself what it is that you want.
Of course you want to find more customers; that’s a given. But what exactly is your goal? For instance, you’re a new freelancer and depend on getting new customers week to week.
Your goal will be different to a stable plumbing small business who already have faithful customers, but want to grow their business online.
I can use my own business as an example. A year after having started First Steps Online Marketing, my goal became to put strategies in place that would enable potential customers to find me instead of me having to go look for them.
This would mean a lot of commitment and perseverance, because it’s a long-term strategy and I knew I would not have instant gratification.
Since my business is aimed at the smaller business, I decided to use my own website as a showcase to attract the very customers I was trying to get business from. And so I put together my own content strategy plan. (Btw, glad to see it’s working, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this…)
My point is…first determine what you want to achieve before selecting the method of getting there.
If you avoid this planning phase, you are likely to waste money and spend time you don’t have (been there, done that…)
OK, now that’s out the way, let’s get on with the 5 ideas:
Method #1: Piggy back on local businesses
Identify local businesses that serve the same audience, but in other ways. Once you’ve made a list, approach them for a potential partnership. The key with this method is to offer your potential partner some kind of benefit they would be foolish to refuse.
What can you give them in exchange for what they give you?
Here’s another real life example taken from my own business: I am in the process of putting together DIY first steps online marketing courses for small business owners, and the first one is about how mindset can impact profit. But since I am no expert on the topic, I joined forces with someone who is. Eduan Pieterse, being a highly respected and trained business transformation coach, wrote The Perfect Mindset Workbook, and I promote it. We split the profits 50/50.
Piggy backing as a marketing method is an especially good way to find more customers because another local business may already be firmly established with a database of people who can be influenced by a company they already trust.
An IT support business might offer free computer repair to the clients of a local accountant.
A jewellery store might offer free jewellery cleaning to a beautician’s clients.
A framing shop might offer free photo framing to a photographer’s top customers.
Download a free copy of “78 Online and Offline Ways to Get More Customers for Next to Nothing”.
Method #2: Cultivate a Social Media Presence
Having a successful social media presence is not particularly easy to master, but here’s some motivation to start working towards being awesome at it:
Social media statistics prove that a social media presence for all businesses is a necessity
Image source: SmartCloud
The two statistics to stand out most from the above info-graphic are:
- 53% of people use Facebook to interact with a brand
- 20% of people use Facebook to research products at least once a week
Another reason to get active on social media as a business is that 47% of people who regularly use social media in the US now actively seek customer service interaction through social media.
These statistics show that customer service has gone virtual
Image source: HaleWebDevelopmet
There’s no getting away from it. You may as well start learning social media tactics now before your competitors do.
My suggestion is that you start by learning one social media platform. I would recommend you use the one your audience is most likely to use.
If you go the Facebook route, the key is knowing your target audience, and that you are consistent with your posts. To propel your efforts, paid Facebook advertising is highly recommended. This checklist for paid Facebook advertising by Hubspot should help get things cracking. Best thing about Facebook advertising? It’s cheap and can reach many people.
Moz provides in-depth information about Facebook and how to use it for business.
Be aware that developing a social media presence can take months, so be patient, consistent and persistent. Treat it like farming. But with even more long-suffering.
Download your free copy of “78 Online and Offline Ways to Get More Customers for Next to Nothing”.
Method #3: Advertise Online
If you’re looking to find more customers fast, advertising on the Internet is going to be your best bet.
But there is skill involved if you don’t want to waste your money.
For instance, if you use Pay Per Click, you need to direct traffic not to your website, but to a targeted landing page.
And you need to do some serious keyword research.
5 Methods of online advertising:
- Social media
- Pay Per Click
- Banner advertising
- Newsletter ads
- Affiliate programs
Out of the paid methods of advertising, for small businesses who want results as fast as possible, I would first recommend piggy backing on another company with the same target audience, and then Pay Per Click and social media advertising, again depending on which avenue is most suitable for your target audience.
Method #4: Start a Customer Referral Program
84% of buyers report that they will most likely consider buying products or services when they’ve been recommended by people they know.
For you, that means it may be worth your while learning how to start a customer referral program.
Method #5: Go Offline for Your Online Marketing
Even for online businesses, marketing the old fashioned way is still necessary and sometimes more effective than using online methods only.
In fact, direct mail via a physical post box may just be the way to go to get attention if done cleverly, since no one’s doing it anymore.
- Business cards
- TV advertising
- Radio advertising
- Product packaging
- Giving free advice
Econsultancy explains how offline marketing boosts online effect.
It would be a huge mistake to think that you will see immediate results from your online marketing efforts. It can take up to several months before you reap the rewards, so it’s important you keep on and don’t give up, even though the stats may encourage you to.