Are you stuck in a rut?
Do your clients constantly flake out on you? On the outside, you may play it cool, acting like it’s okay, when inside, you’re really fuming. Or, maybe getting customers is the easy stuff, but keeping them is another story. Here’s 10 ways to build a better client base.
Word of Mouth
Talk to your friends, family, neighbors and pretty much everyone in your social circle about your venture. This isn’t some tired elevator pitch. Just casually tell them what you’ve been up to and why your business is going to change the game. Exude confidence and tout your own horn. If they don’t need your service, give them some cards to pass along if they meet someone who does.
Bring plenty of business cards, look the part and keep the conversation light and positive. Sum up with you do in a simple, easy to understand way. Be sure to stand out for the right reasons and don’t worry about how you measure up next to others. Focus on what you are trying to do, get better clients. There’s lots of networking events posted daily on meetup.com and eventbrite.
Next time you’re out and about, notice all of the areas where you can display your flyers, signs and business cards. Visit often and refill as needed. Park your business cards wherever you go. Use a business card holder so they stay put. No one wants to be a part of someone else’s cardstock avalanche. The vegan bakery doesn’t need to mix with Caroline’s Steaks.
You can also hit the parking lot and put your marketing materials on peoples windshields. Don’t be afraid to be that gal or guy. You’ll never know who will reply!
Then there’s the internet, where you have Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, Nextdoor, and so on. Once you find clients online, make sure to meet them IRL ASAP. In person, you can reach out to local magazines, newspapers, newsletters- like in a community or house of worship, etc. Anytime you do branding, be careful because you are the first impression of your brand.
Another thing you can do are commercials. What could be more exciting? Just make sure your visuals go with what you’re doing. If you’re a tax professional but your video shoot is in the club, that’s not a good look. It would be entertaining though. If you are selling vodka, however, that’s the look you want. Keep popping bottles and dancing the night away!
Build a local presence by hosting a free event that showcases what you have to offer. Pick the best benefit of your business or showcase to highlight. You can also even attend a competitor’s event. Why not? You could get more clients or at least learn how to play the game better.
One client can turn into ten, thanks to referrals. Establish a good relationship with your clients, then ask for referrals. Don’t wait for them to spread the word, ask them if they know anyone else who would be interested. Just be straightforward and say you’re looking for new clients. This works great if you have an outgoing client who knows everyone. If they don’t know anyone, you could encourage them to review your business online or give you a shout out on social media.
Anytime you have a new lead, it’s important to ask guiding questions in the beginning. That way, you can tell if they are serious or not. You’ll never know where things will go. Unless they say “never”, don’t give up. Show empathy; you’re checking in on them.
If they say yes, great. If they don’t, ask them if they know someone who would be interested. Also, keep your BS detector on. Being persistent is important, but if on the third follow up attempt, things still aren’t going anywhere, move on. Don’t take it personally. Let them know the door is open but you don’t want to give stalker vibes.
It’s super important to make sure you’re building your client relationships. This includes taking interest and genuinely caring about the person, in both their business and their needs. If they need accommodations, try your best to make things happen and go the extra mile for them. Little things also can go a long way. A simple “hello”, holiday greeting or remembering their birthday will win their trust. Let them know you are thinking of them.
Make Cold Calls
This may seem like the most awkward, least sexy way to get clients imaginable but it works! It’s a numbers game. Start by saying hi in a friendly tone and ask them how they are doing. Then hit them with a question. Avoid cliches like “I know this seems out of the blue but…” That sounds sooo calculated. The more people you call, the closer you are getting to your “yes”.
Follow up your call with an email and always send them more information on what you do. If you scheduled a meet up, send them an invite via Google Calendar. Show them that you mean business and they are not just another prospect. When you get leads via phone, you reach people you never would have met. The fact that they actually answer their phone and chatted means they will probably be easier to reach in the future. Unlike social media, they have been vetted. You saw their business in a yelp listing and you know they are legit.
Ever notice how successful entrepreneurs bring a crowd of enthusiastic clients wherever they go? Where did they find such dedicated, positive customers? The gathering looks so perfect, so tailor made that it borders on perfect, driving you further into despair over your own situation.
Such cult followings might feel impossible to obtain. If you’re hungry enough, you’ll be out there doing everything you can do to breakthrough and get those serious clients. What you’re seeing is others success. What you don’t see is the years of struggles and failures before they found their tribe. Not just clients but everything in their life came from intention, not accident.
There’s no real shortcuts but the closest thing to one is something called reverse engineering. Imagine your customers- where did you meet them? Yoga class? Your kids dance class? A fashion show? Consider your niche too. Where do they go? And if you’re way too cool to fit into a niche, create your own! See your business as a solution. Who has the problem to your solution? Who is up at 3am, hoping someone like you will make their worries go away. You’d be surprised who is looking for someone like you.
If you’re the most successful person in your social circle- we need to fix that. In some cases, you might be the only entrepreneur. You don’t need to be surrounded by a squad of type A overachieving perfectionists but you want at least one friend who is winning.
Sometimes, we get jealous of our more successful friends or even write them off as too egotistical. Instead, realize if they can have it…so can you. Ask them to lunch and dig for the secrets! They will eventually spill the tea on their success tips. Ask to spend the day with them, shadowing and seeing how they handle their business.
If you feel like others who are less talented are getting ahead of you, it’s usually one of two things- work ethic or people skills. So, brush up and get better so you can get better clients. Be realistic, and incorporate what you can.
For example, if you need at least 8 hours of sleep or you turn into something out of The Walking Dead, and they say they don’t sleep, you probably won’t be using that time management tip. But since you get plenty of rest, you’ll have the energy to put in the extra hours like they do.
Hopefully these simple tips will help you take your business (and life) to the next level. Be kinder to yourself and trust the process.