“If you build it, they will come” might be true of cornfields and dead baseball legends, but it certainly doesn’t apply to business. You can’t just open your doors (or launch your website) and wait for customers to line up. The competition is just too stiff.
If you want new business, you’re going to have to earn it by standing out from the crowd.
3 Ways to Make an Impression and Attract New Customers
1. Change It Up
When you’ve been in business for a while, you eventually develop a particular image. This is a good thing—it means you have brand recognition. But if you get stuck in the same-old same-old, it might become harder to attract new customers after a while.
Changing your tried-and-true formula doesn’t always work (two words: New Coke), but innovation always does. Don’t try to pretend you haven’t tried one of Dunkin’ Donuts’ seasonal flavors. Who could possibly resist a Mint Oreo donut for St. Paddy’s Day, pumpkin spice autumn yumminess, or a heart-shaped donut filled with glorious cookie dough around Valentine’s Day? Offer up something new, exciting and irresistible to tempt people who have never looked at your business twice…and drag old customers you haven’t heard from in a while back into the fold.
2. Mail Out Free Stuff
One thing will never change: people love to get free swag in the mail. You’d invest in promotional items for a convention or show, so why not send something out to homes or businesses in your area code (if you’re a local business) or to your social circle (if you’re an online business)? Recently, Dang Foods included a bag of toasted coconut chips covered in dark chocolate in a Klout Perks box…and let’s just say that was a really good idea. Dang Foods earned a new customer and a lot of free social media publicity for one little bag of snacks.
3. Host or Participate in a Charity Event
Getting involved in a local charity can be a great way to meet new people in the community and make a fantastic first impression. Some ideas might include handing out branded items like full, reusable water bottles at a charity walk or golf towels at a charity golf tourney. Think: things people will really use. Tacky plastic keychains are so 1980s and when was the last time you saw a calendar in use?
By handing out branded swag potential customers really want, you do more than put your logo in their hands. You demonstrate that you speak their language, appreciate their story and, most importantly: understand their needs.
The key is to match the focus of the organization with your business. If you sell sportswear, hook up with your local Pop Warner or Little League. Hand out free t-shirts, offer a discount on one item everybody needs (like cleats), or offer a smaller across-the-board discount on all items at the start of the season.
Not in retail? Partner with an organization like Project Management Institute (PMI). They’re always looking for speakers to make presentations at their meetings and you can take the opportunity to hand out something business people want, like a branded flash drive or an expensive-looking pen.
Once you’ve earned the attention of a new customer, follow through on the sale and keep building the relationship. That’s what Growth Cycle Marketing is all about!
BONUS TIP: Continue Build a Reputation for Great Customer Service
Always remember you’re not looking for a one night stand. Long-term relationships are far more satisfying in the long run. One of the best ways to attract new customers is to treat the old ones so well that they tell everybody about it. After the faceless corporate depersonalization of 90s customer service, customers want contact with real people.
If you’re using our Growth Cycle Marketing techniques, you’ve got customer service in the bag. You’re following up on new leads, keeping in touch after the sale and beyond and staying on top of social media. Great customer service is the best secret weapon your company can have…and it never goes out of style.
For more information about keeping your customers on the hook before, during and even after the sale, download our FREE Growth Cycle Marketing white paper.
Building your new business isn’t easy.
In this economy — where profit margins are razor thin due to competition — you have to figure out creative ways to establish your brand while also promoting your start-up’s products and services AND balancing a cost-effective, professional, and efficient way of conducting business.
Many software tools available today would be AMAZING to have, but you just can’t afford them right now. What’s an entrepreneur to do?
The first thing you should look for are creative alternatives to those pricey tools, platforms, and software programs designed for core business areas like Project Management, Customer Relationship Management, Social Management, Accounting, Creative, Marketing, and Content Management (e.g., Web Building).
There is an upside to our economy being the way it is right now — It’s forced people to look for, create, and share affordable tools for businesses JUST LIKE YOU.
Here’s my personal list of 5 must-have tools for your start-up business, at prices (some even FREE!) that are sure to fit your budget.
1. Basecamp (www.basecamp.com) — Basecamp is a project management and collaboration tool that not only offers you a free 60-day trial, but also integrates with a plethora of web applications to make collaborating with your clients a breeze. It has web-based calendars and drag-and-drop file sharing. It’s simple, intuitive, and best of all, after your free trial period is up, it’s completely affordable, with plans starting at $20 per month.
2. FreshBooks (www.freshbooks.com) — This cloud-based Accounting platform is an amazing tool for the budget-minded entrepreneur who does not fancy his/herself an accountant. FreshBooks offers a free 30-day trial; however, this doesn’t mean you have to stop using it when the trial period is over. You can use the software indefinitely for up to 3 clients. When your business begins to grow, you can upgrade to 25 clients for only $19.95 a month. FreshBooks makes invoicing simple, and integrates with a large number of payment options both on- and offline. For someone starting out, FreshBooks is a no-brainer when it comes to wanting to professionally manage billing and accounting.
3. DropBox (www.dropbox.com) — DropBox is one of those tools that has revolutionized how we share files with one another. The best part? DropBox is essentially FREE, with tons of storage; the ability to back up your mobile devices; and drag-and-drop convenience for sharing documents and files with clients, family, and friends. Being able to collaborate and share documents through the cloud on almost any device with DropBox has made complicated FTP file-sharing systems almost obsolete. DropBox offers creative ways to increase your storage space, too, by simply getting friends to sign up, install, and use the mobile app. It has an application programming interface to integrate with a number of applications so wide and vast, I can’t even begin to count. Be sure to get DropBox today!
4. Google Analytics (www.google.com/analytics/) — Let’s face it… If you have a website, you need to know how effective your website is and what its place in your industry is. Google Analytics has revolutionized how you manage the direction you want your website, your messaging, and your brand to go — and it’s FREE! There’s no reason you shouldn’t already be using this powerhouse tool to measure your website’s performance. The tools within Google Analytics are infinitely customizable to see the statistics you need to out-perform your competition. If you have a WordPress site, be sure to check out my colleague Mike Kissel’s post about adding the Google Analyticator plug-in to your site.
If you’re not already using Google Analytics,
Contact Cultivate Communications today to find out how to get
it integrated into your website: 1-414-727-2440.
5. Gimp (www.gimp.org) — To really make anything happen with great design, you need expensive photo-editing software (like Adobe Photoshop). But not everyone can afford this expensive program when they’re just starting out. Fortunately for those of you trying to establish your start-up’s presence in the world, you don’t have to be pressured into pirating that precious Adobe software to get your feet wet. Check out Gimp’s features to see if this program might be an option for you.
If you use Gimp to build your business and get to the point when you can afford to buy a suite of Adobe creative products, please feel a little obligated to throw a donation their way for making it possible for you to get your start without breaking the bank. You can donate to Gimp here: http://www.gimp.org/donating/
I hope this list of useful apps and programs motivates you to grow your business in new and exciting ways. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me on LinkedIn or Google+.
Have you used any of these great applications? Share your experience and tell us how it benefited you, your business, and/or your clients.