Going Into Business: How To Build Your Client Base
You’ve got a great product, the funding, and the time to give your dream of proprietorship a shot, but once you’ve taken the leap and registered yourself as a business, what are you supposed to do?
You’ve got to get some customers through the door, whether that door be a real physical thing or more metaphorical in nature. Let’s take a look at some of the best ways to build up clientele and get your business moving and the money flowing.
Building a Local Professional Network
One of the most important ways to reach potential customers is to learn to connect with other businesses. To do this properly you’ll want to form a group with other businesses who service the same demographics as you do.
As an artist I can profile my target “friend” businesses like this. People who buy my art are often other artists, supporters of the buy local movement, and small businesses who need an artist for their websites or apparel.
Other businesses who serve these groups are print shops, art supply stores, indie hangouts (bars, record stores), and screen printing/embroidery shops.
If I’m lucky I can set up a relationship with these businesses where they can display some of my work and refer clients to me in exchange for a small referral fee.
In the same way any other proprietor can make contact with other related businesses and develop a client sharing network that will both serve your clients better and keep business running smoothly.
The next step is reaching out directly to your customers, which is also done more easily through these associated businesses. That means I need to frequent these businesses myself, meet the owners and employees of these places and try to make friends.
Again as someone who sells art I can benefit strongly from sketching at a local bar in plain view of other patrons. It’s doubly useful because it helps the bar draw a crowd while also helping to get your name out there and providing a low pressure outlet for your work.
Some people might be more comfortable buying something from you if they don’t see you in a strictly professional environment.
Also it’ll provide a convenient atmosphere where people can spread word of your existence by word of mouth, where they won’t have to go out of their way to see you and it won’t sound strange to their friends if they decide to drag them over to see what you’ve got.
Smart Web Marketing
Having a blog, a Pinterest, and a Facebook is great, but they’re just tools in the sense that they’ll only help you while you’re using them.
Use your web presence to actively engage with your potential customers, to host special events, and to organize giveaways or promotional contests. More importantly you can use this medium to reach out to social and professional fields that are organized around your field.
For example Google+ has communities built around everything from art to mechanical engineering. Go to where the people are and show them what you’re good for.