Starting a business is often the culmination of years of hard work and planning. You’ve secured the proper permits, leased space, purchased inventory, and opened your doors or launched your site, but a major question remains: How will you find customers? If you’re a business-to-business seller this usually means getting the attention of decision makers at other companies, while retailers or restaurants are charged with bringing customers through the door.
There are many ways to find new customers; some have been used for generations while others rely on the latest technology to identify qualified leads. Regardless of the details, each of the methods below is aimed at helping businesses attract customers.
Build a Leads List
At its most basic level, a leads list is a collection of names and contact information for decision makers at other companies. Suppliers and vendors often use leads lists to target prospective customers who they believe may be in the market for their goods or services.
There are many ways to create a leads list. Combing through business publications and websites or perusing professional social networks can help you find important contacts. However, a manual approach usually takes time. What’s more, the value of the list is usually predicated on its accuracy and relevance.
Using a sales intelligence solution is one way to try and cut through the noise. D&B Hoovers™ gathers information on leads from multiple public sources, including financial documents, legal filings, and media reports. Using such a tool can get the names of qualified leads into your hands faster than you might be able to do on your own.
In addition, D&B Hoovers can provide firmographic information regarding leadership changes, recent mergers and acquisitions, business expansions, and other details that could indicate the time is right to reach out for a new opportunity. Such data can be invaluable to new business owners with limited time and an urgent need to establish cash flow.
Hold a Grand Opening Sale
Offering special discounts and deals to celebrate your new business can get the attention of potential customers. Whether you sell B2B or have a brick-and-mortar store, the right deal may help convince a new customer to make a purchase. Consider lowering prices for a time, offering a buy-one, get-one free deal, or providing free samples. Not every promotion will be relevant to each type of business, but many companies can craft compelling deals that cater to their audience. Once you have people in the door, you can ask them to sign up to receive emails about future promotions and sales that might bring them back to shop with you again.
Sponsor a Local Event
A new business may not have a large advertising budget, but that doesn’t mean they have to sit on the sidelines when it comes to getting the public’s attention. Many communities and organizations rely on small businesses to sponsor local events like marathons, sports leagues, or festivals. Sponsors may get their logos put on signage advertising the event or be featured in printed programs. Sponsorships can be especially effective if the event is related to your business, such as a sporting goods store contributing to a 5K run. For small businesses who depend on local customers a well-placed logo can get your company on peoples’ radar.
Network with Other Business Owners
There can be many advantages to getting to know other business owners in your city. First, those who have been around for a while may have learned lessons the hard way and be willing to share their experiences with a first-time entrepreneur. This could involve everything from past zoning disputes to business ideas that just didn’t work out. Next, forming professional relationships with other business owners may reveal unexpected opportunities for your own company. You might hear that someone is dissatisfied with a current supplier or interested in a new service. If you can fill that need, you may be able to get a meeting before competitors even know there’s business to be won.
Create (and Update!) a Website
Nowadays many purchases start with a web search, so having a subpar website or none at all can mean many missed opportunities. Luckily, you don’t have to be a web developer to create and maintain a professional site for your business. There are many off-the-shelf solutions that allow business owners to customize templates and use existing ecommerce platforms to sell goods or set appointments online. You may find that social media provides an easy way to stay in touch with customers and share news about sales and events. It isn’t necessary to become a full-fledged online influencer, but giving online channels their due can pay off with new business.
Make Sure Potential Customers Can Find Your Business
Many customers will look for a solution rather than a specific company. This is where knowing your customer’s needs can help you optimize your website for search engines like Google. Another way to help make sure that prospects can find your business is to either add your business to one of the many online directories or claim your business listing if it already exists. Dun & Bradstreet has a business directory where you can search for your and other businesses.
Going into business for yourself can be incredibly rewarding, but being the boss means many critical jobs fall on your shoulders. Finding new customers is an important part of building a lasting business, and the skills you learn now can serve you well as the company grows. From cutting-edge sales intelligence solutions to good, old fashioned networking, there are many ways for determined business owners to find new customers.