To grow your tech business and maintain the health of your company, you need new clients. As we covered in "The Key to Stronger Revenue in 2017: Diversifying Your Client Base," a good mix of clients keeps you from relying on just one or two customers as your main source of revenue.
But what's the best way to woo new clients? Several small-business owners shared their best tips: think like your customers, ask for referrals, form partnerships, market online, be a thought leader, and network.
1. Think Like Your Customers
Before you start mining for leads, take a moment to really think about your potential customers. Who are they? What are their problems, and what solutions can you offer them?
"Small-business owners have desires, fears, needs, and issues that prevent them from doing their best work," says
Michael Mehlberg (@mmehlberg),
cofounder of small business consulting firm
(@Modern_da_Vinci). "These desires and fears are often closely aligned with their personal passions and goals. When you truly understand your customer from this perspective, it becomes far easier to show them how your product or service will give them results."
Put yourself in your potential customers' shoes, and you'll gain a better understanding of how to market to them.
2. Ask for Referrals
Don't be shy about asking your satisfied customers for a referral.
"The best way to bring in new clients is referrals," says
Preston Tesvich (@PrestonTesvich),
COO of IOT API firm
(@DroplitIO). "To whatever degree you consider tactful, every customer conversation is a conduit to more customers. Also, it's well established that word of mouth is the most powerful form of advertising."
If your existing customers are satisfied with the service you provide, they're much more likely to recommend your business to their colleagues or friends.
3. Find a Buddy
Team up with another business to expand your client base. Look for potential partners with the kind of customers you want to attract, and suggest offering their customers a special promotion or giveaway.
"The best thing you can do to land new clients is to network with other potential 'partner' companies that sell a different product to the same customer base," says
president of CMMS software company
(@MaintenanceCare). "The relationships you build with these partner companies can result in customer referrals. You can benefit from the positive relationship the customer has with the partner company to get an easy win."
For example, if you own a computer repair business, you could offer a free 30-minute computer diagnostic to existing customers of a partner company that sells accounting software. Your partner benefits by offering a freebie to their customers, and you gain new leads.
4. Promote Your Business with Online Marketing
You don't need to advertise in the newspaper or pay for airtime on the local TV or radio station to reach new customers. Today it's easier and typically more cost effective to reach potential clients via online marketing, such as pay per click (PPC) ads or social media ads.
"Whether it's Facebook ads or PPC, it will put your business on the map, making it easier for people searching for the kinds of services your business provides to find your website," says
cofounder and managing partner of digital advertising and marketing agency
With online advertising, you can target specific types of customers. You can even schedule campaigns to run during the times your target audience is most likely to be online.
"To get your message in front of your customers, you must reach them at the place and time they will be most receptive to your message," suggests Mehlberg. "For example, if they are too busy during the week, try catching them on Facebook during the weekend when they are likely to have more time to investigate how your solution could help."
If you lack the time or expertise to invest in online advertising, there are plenty of companies that can help you put together an effective campaign. Choose one that also incorporates search engine optimization (SEO). Optimizing your website using keywords makes it easier for potential customers to find you.
5. Position Yourself as a Thought Leader
Promote your business and yourself by blogging and / or writing articles for industry publications. If you can demonstrate that you are an expert in your field, you build trust with potential customers and increase your website's visibility in online search results.
"Thought leadership is attractive, so try to find ways to get your best thoughts in blogs and articles," says Tesvich. "This content lays a great foundation for getting warm leads. It could be as simple as blogging on LinkedIn on a weekly basis, scoping out requests by journalists for submissions for their content, or reaching out to popular podcasts in your industry for a potential interview."
In addition to LinkedIn, you might also want to post regularly on Quora and Reddit.
"Communities are even more vibrant on Reddit, and there’s a subreddit for just about anything," says Tesvich.
6. Become a Social Butterfly
Attend as many networking events in your community as you can. This can be tough if you're shy, but remember, you don't need to go in ready to make a full-scale presentation on your business. Your goal should simply be to meet new people, ask them what they do, and share a little about your own business. Practice giving your "elevator pitch" a few times so you don't find yourself tongue-tied when faced with the inevitable "So what do you do?" question.
"Networking isn't old school," says Rudnitsky. "In fact, it's still a great way to bring in new clients. Meet people in your industry, network with your competition, and get to know them. It might also be the case that they refer their own clients to you if they can't handle their current workload."
Check with your local chamber of commerce to see what networking events take place in your area. Meetups are also a great way to socialize in a more casual setting.
About the Contributors
Michael Mehlberg is the cofounder of Modern da Vinci. He helps small-business owners achieve their goals and live their passion. His approach to technology, corporate strategy, product development, marketing, and sales is both practical and highly effective, and he has helped multiple small businesses grow into the company their owners envisioned.
Dan Roberge is the president of Maintenance Care, a free maintenance management software solution designed to increase the efficiency of work orders, preventive maintenance, and asset management.
Alona Rudnitsky is cofounder and president of Helix House, an award-winning advertising agency based in Scottsdale, Arizona. Recognized in Arizona Business Leaders as one of the city's leading specialists, Alona regularly contributes to media and news outlets to help further educate the business community. Her vision and drive have helped make her one of Arizona's top business owners and an authority on digital advertising.
Preston Tesvich is the COO and cofounder of Droplit.io, an IoT company that provides all the software layers IoT device companies and developers need to connect IoT devices to applications. Preston is a business strategist, sales executive, marketer, fundraiser, and relationship connoisseur with an eye for aesthetics and for making the complex simple. As the cofounder of Droplit.io, Preston is responsible for concept to completion on all business initiatives.