I have a simple answer on how to get more clients: you show up. What does that look like? It's different for every person, every business and every industry. There's no magic formula or secret sauce that will turn on a funnel to drive more clients to your business. But there are things you have control over that you can do to get more clients.
Get More Clients with Advertising
One way to show up (literally) is through ads. When prospects use the internet to search for a specific product or service and you want your business to show up as a search result, you can use Google Ads or Microsoft Advertising (formerly known as Bing Ads and includes AOL and Yahoo). The goal is to send active prospects to your website, get prospects to call your business, or send prospects to your physical location.
Other forms of online advertising include Facebook and Instagram ads, LinkedIn, Amazon, Quora, Pinterest, TikTok and more. The difference with these platforms is rather than a person actively searching for a product or service, you identify people with the characteristics of your target audience and the AI of the platform sends your ads to people with those characteristics who may be interested in your offer. Those people may not be actively looking for your product or service, but you still may get some sales and with ad consistency, you will get brand recognition.
Lastly, print advertising - brochures, postcards, magazines, posters, newspapers, billboards. Typically the goal of print advertising is brand recognition and it is a long-term play. This type of advertising can be extremely effective if done properly but you likely won't see the same results as a search engine ad.
It's important to analyze your goals, your budget, spend time on the messaging of your ad and make sure you research to understand the type of advertising you are purchasing.
Go Back to Your Existing Customers
When was the last time you had personal contact with your top 100 or top 10 clients? Has a once regular client gone quiet? What type of communication are you sending your existing customers - is it self-serving, or do you provide value, show you care and offer support? None of us like to be sold to or have conversations with people who are all or only about themselves - why should our business communications be any different?
Create a plan to cultivate your relationships with your clients. How would you want to be treated as a valued customer? How can you improve your customer experience. Show up for your clients - not because you want something, but because they mean something to you. Does this look like a quick 5 minute phone call, a text, or a "Thinking of You" card with a personal message in the mail? Although the intention is not to gain business with this type of communication, in my experience, client communications of this type always resulted in additional business.
Get More Clients with Referrals
Some businesses have formal referral programs, while others take the less formal approach by asking for referrals in the signature line of their e-mail, for example. Whatever approach works best for you, you must ask for referrals from your customers. But, it's not limited to just your customers. Ask your friends, family, neighbors and people you do business with to hand out your information, share a social media post or make an introduction. You would be surprised how many people aren't sure if they can pass out your contact info so remind them regularly it's more than okay!
Another source of referrals should come from referral partners. These are other business owners who are willing to provide your information to their network or client base. Typically you serve the same client base, or they may provide a product or service that compliments your business product or service. Regularly nurture those relationships, making sure you reciprocate the referral process on your end.
The best way to make sure you are receiving referrals is to create a plan and make sure it is consistently implemented and regularly nurtured. Your plan may include an annual postcard to clients asking for referrals plus creating an automated e-mail delivered after a sale asking for a referral from customers. Plus, making 3 calls per month to referral partners to see what's new, offer to share changes or innovations with your clients, or share content on social media.
People who attend networking events are usually like-minded business owners who are interested in making connections and leveraging those relationships to grow their business and support other local businesses. Although networking events can lead to sales, the focus should be on making connections. When you focus on connections, business owners see that you genuinely want to get to know and help them and generally this is reciprocated. Learn how to Network With Intention and how to avoid these Networking Personality Types.
Using established relationships, you can also form a co-branded partnership with another business. A co-branded partnership is a strategic marketing partnership aimed at increasing sales, brand awareness, and breaking into new markets for the success of both businesses. Did you know Taco Bell sold 100 million Doritos Locos Tacos in the first 10 weeks? Talk about a successful partnership! Who can you partner with and where can it take your business?
Get More Clients with Short-term Drives
In a slump and need customers fast? Short-term strategies such as a promotion, limited offer or sale event will drive new customers to your business. While this can pave the way to long-term growth, these short term strategies should not be used without long-term marketing strategies in play, or used so frequently that it "trains" your customers to wait for the sale and/or becomes unsustainable for your business growth. Creating a plan for multiple short-term drives per year in combination with continuous long-term marketing strategies will help your business growth and will help you get more clients.
Consistency in Core Marketing Activities
Long-term marketing strategies include:
Google Business Profile
E-mail marketing campaigns
These core marketing activities should be done consistently and frequently for brand recognition and long term growth. This is the area most small businesses take their eye off the ball and when there's a shift, they are left wondering where to find their next client. Showing up in this area is essential for your business' sustainability and growth.
Become an Authority in Your Area
When you consistently show up for your business, people are going to start to know who you are and what you do. How can you show up professionally?
Offer interviews - radio, news stations, newspapers, social media
Write guest blog posts
Be a guest on a podcast
Speak at events
Host or co-host educational events or seminars
Establish your authority in your area by using your voice and perspective and sharing stories about your personal experiences. This perspective is unique to you and will help you leverage your brand in your market. People will get to know you and be more willing to give you an opportunity to earn their business when the time is right.
Review Your Analytics
Make sure you know what is working for your business and what isn't. Focus your time and resources on areas that have a higher return on investment and are income generators for your business. You can spin your wheels working on what "should" work, or what you like about your business, but at the end of the day, to get more clients, watch what content customer's engage with and their purchasing trends to find out what they want. Reviewing your analytics will tell you what customers want and will help you find the customers you want.
If this sounds like a lot of work, it is. Being a small business owner is is a grind - it's why a lot of small business fail each year. There's no short-cut or magic formula - you must be willing to show up consistently every day, put in the work, analyze results and re-work your plan until you have a formula that works. But don't get too comfortable - you also want to innovate and be ahead of the curve. And this is how you will get more clients.