I am already bumping my first scheduled article for this one. I got my first reader question (thanks Dad) and it is an important question for all business owners. How do I attract my first customers?
I just started this blog so, how do I build an audience? My Dad’s friend is starting a handyman business and how does he get work? Some guys have put a small band together and their music is getting better and better, now how do they get their first gig?
Marketing is really contextual, the tool and message you use is very dependent on the audience and the product or service being sold. The actual tactics different business owners find success with vary considerably however, there are some simple steps everyone can start with:
1) Ask yourself what your prospective customers really want. For a moment, imagine yourself in their shoes. I’ll use the handyman business as an example. A potential customer might say “the faucet in my bathroom is leaking and a shingle blew off my roof in the last storm. I’d like to call a handyman but, I want to know the person coming into my house is trustworthy and does good work”. Use this insight to determine some ways you might reach out to potential customers and think about what you might say to them. In this example you want potential handyman customers to feel that you are trustworthy and do good work.
2) Reaching potential customers. There’s about a million different ways to market to potential customers so be prepared to try lots of things. In some cases the demographics of the customers you hope to serve can help you narrow your choices and the put-yourself-in-their-shoes exercise can give you some clues as well. In the case of the handyman word of mouth is likely to generate a fair amount of business. I would make sure I got the word out to all my family and friends that I’ve created a handyman business. Tell acquaintances in clubs and organizations. Everyone in your social circle will be predisposed to trusting you and feeling like you do good work. Once you’ve taken every opportunity to spread the word think about your next tactic.
3) Fulfill your promise. Now that you have got your first client on the phone or you have your first actual job, make sure you deliver the best experience ever. Don’t just think about this one sale, think about a lifetime worth of return business and word of mouth referrals. Be on time, be friendly, be professional, listen, give good advice where appropriate, and be quick but, accurate. Maybe you don’t make a profit on your first bunch of jobs but, that may be okay if your customer is happy. If your work is great and the experience for your customer is great you will be top of mind for repeat business or referral.
4) Ask for the referral. If you feel like you have done great work for someone feel free to ask for the referral. You could say, “If you feel I have done good work I would love it if you referred me to others.”
I hope these four steps give you some initial direction and a place to start when working on attracting customers. And if you’re thinking “I’ve already worked that word of mouth thing”, stay tuned, I’ll be writing articles on all sorts of promotional ideas from simple lawn signs to building your web presence and what to do when.
I would be delighted if you had questions ask or comments to leave in the comments section below. Thanks!