One of the hardest tasks for a new home business owner is getting those first few clients or customers. The challenge is compounded by the fact that many new home-based entrepreneurs aren't savvy marketers and the idea of "sales" scares them. Even seasoned home business owners sometimes struggle with having enough clients or customers.
While generating business clients and customers takes time, you can speed up the process by learning how to prospect, and how to guide those would-be customers and clients toward a sale. And since many potential customers or clients won't buy on their first contact with you, you also need to develop a plan for staying in touch until they are ready to buy.
One of the biggest challenges that you face as a marketer is to reach your target audience effectively. The main goal of marketing is to convey the right message to the right people. And to do that right, you need to learn how to reach your target audience effectively.
Developing a clear understanding of your social media target audience may be the most important thing you do as a social media marketer. Your target audience informs all elements of your social media strategy.
Here's a hint before we dig in: Your target audience is not "everyone" (unless you're Google). Your task in defining your social media audience is to identify and understand your niche so you can dominate it.
Audience research will help you craft relevant content, messaging, and ads. All of this can lead to higher conversion rates and better social media ROI. Of course, these are key metrics for all social marketers (and marketing bosses).
If you market your product to the wrong set of people, you'll end up wasting your time and money. You need to figure out a way to reach your target audience to market your products. Here are the steps you need to take to reach your target audience more effectively.
What is the cost of acquiring a new customer?
Customer acquisition cost (CAC) is the total sales and marketing cost required to earn a new customer over a designated period. This is important because it assigns real value to your marketing efforts and allows you to measure your ROI.
So if a company spent $300K on sales and marketing, and generated 300 new customers in one quarter, their customer acquisition cost would be $1K.
Note: The total marketing cost includes all program, software, and marketing spend, salaries, wages, commissions, bonuses, and overhead associated with acquiring new leads and customers within the time period you're evaluating (month, quarter, year).
Now that we've defined it let's look at how to acquire customers.
Best ways to acquire new customers
The list here is not the be-all-end-all of how to acquire customers, but each item is a common way for digital marketers to grow their customer base today.
You won't be able to connect effectively with your potential customers if you don't have a customer in mind. Survey current customers, as well as members of your target market, to find out how you can better present your product or service, or what aspects might be missing from what you're currently offering.
Cast a wide net to capture those you think might be interested in your product or service, and use their data to shape your brand in a way that better resonates with your target market. Once you know who your audience is, where they hang out online and what they respond best to, then you can begin to market.
Research Your Competitors And Find Out Who Their Customers Are
An easy way to find out which kind of marketing campaign works and which don't is by researching competitors in your industry.
Not only will this inexpensive effort give you some ideas to follow for your campaigns, but this research will also reveal dark spots in your competitor's process and present new directions for you to take your marketing strategy.
After all, just by going into business in the same industry, you'll be going after some of your competitor's target market — you might as well use their example to make your service and product better for their customers.
Far cheaper than most methods of advertising, Facebook and Google targeted ads prove that a little can go a long way.
While most advertising in the real world only reaches whoever comes across a billboard, bus stop or commercial, these targeted ads can locate the people who are most likely to need your service based on geographical location, demographics (including age, gender, education and relationship status), interests (based on what they've shared or "liked") and browsing activity.
By investing in targeted ads and paying through their Pay Per Click or Pay Per Impression method, companies can see a significant bump in their user engagement, conversion and sales.
Smart Social Media
There's having a presence on social media, and then there's having a social media presence. When it comes to keeping customers, a little more effort on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram go the distance.
Far too many businesses use their accounts to promote their own company. At the same time, smart social media managers strategize relevant posts, link to cool articles, answer customer questions as soon as they're asked, and otherwise give online surfers the impression that there's a human who cares.
These are the companies who retain their customers, give users new ways to use their service or product and help solve problems as they come up.
Affiliate marketing has been around since the early days of the Web, and it's still an overlooked but highly effective means to raise your brand awareness significantly.
And with the number of affiliate networks out there, who operate on a PPC (Pay Per Click) or PPA (Pay Per Action) basis, it has never been easier or safer to find your product being promoted by appropriate publishers.
eBay, Amazon and certain marketing companies offer their affiliate networks, but you can also try an exclusive PPA affiliate network.
Establish Trust In Your Community: Publish User Reviews, Get Likes, Syndicate Articles
With so many new, competing businesses congesting almost every industry, it's getting increasingly difficult to stand out and grow a decent-sized following. To gain support, companies first have to establish trust.
As more than 88 per cent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, it only makes sense to start by publishing user reviews and sending samples of your product for trusted bloggers to review.
As your company keeps growing, start placing in-house content in big websites that publish syndicated content, like Huffington Post, Forbes, FT, Fast Company and Inc. Don't forget to use your real name — people respond better to a human being than to a corporation.
Connect With The Right Influencers
Engaging with big players in your industry can be an extremely effective way to garner a wider share base. After all, if you can get the attention of a thought leader or an influencer, you have the chance to capture their fans and friends, as well as establish trust and credibility.
Reach out to appropriate bloggers or entrepreneurs at conferences or over Twitter, send them relevant and interesting blog content that might pique their interest, and once again — be a human being, not just your company.
Post Relevant Content On Blogs
Keeping a practice of continually and diligently publishing relevant and original blog content not only helps keep your company shining in the warm Google sun, but it also helps potential customers truly get to know your company and where it's coming from.
The content doesn't have to be self-promotional (and shouldn't be), but it should offer context into why your product or service is important, suggest the best ways to solve industry-related problems that arise in the everyday lives of your target demographic, impart some valuable wisdom, and generally inspire people to share your point of view.
If you don't have enough resources or writers on staff to keep rolling out a constant stream of content for your blog, enlist the help of a content marketing platform like Content.ly or a virtual communications platform like Commeta.
Craft An Engaging Newsletter To Foster Leads
One of the most time-consuming aspects of online marketing is generating leads. Often, that involves analyzing customer demographics and social media activity, putting out ads and online surveys and updating user data from year to year.
However, new companies are cropping up to simplify the process of lead generation, and, in some cases — like LeadGenius — they even do the work for you.
A great way of nurturing prospects is with personalized email newsletters, A/B test advertising and promotional campaigns. Use the data to fine-tune the efforts that work and scale your best campaigns.
Build a Potential Customer and Client List
You can't plan a party without a guest list and, likewise, you can't start or run a business without making a list of potential customers or clients. Listing people you know is a good place to start as you can make a quick sale and get referrals. But there are other sources from which to start your potential customer list. Here are just a few:
Your friends and family are the most likely to purchase something from you, even if they're not your target market. Or, maybe they don't need your product or service, but know someone who does or would be willing to tell others about it.
If you've already made a few sales, call upon your existing customers to see if they need more of your product or service. Selling to an existing happy customer is easier than generating a new one.
Call your friends, family, and prior customers to see if they know anyone who needs your product or service. Sweeten the deal by offering a referral incentive.
This is ideal for business-to-business (B2B) businesses. If you know the ideal customer or client, you can go online and search for them, and then reach out to them directly. While you can do this online for all businesses, it works particularly well for doing local searches of businesses you want to work with. Social media is another great way to connect with potential businesses you'd like to work with, especially LinkedIn.
Trades Shows or Craft Fairs
Events are a great way to network with other businesses that may fit your market (in B2B) or generate new customers and prospects through an exhibit if you sell to the end consumer (B2C). Even if you don't make a sale, events can allow you to build your contact list.
Speaking: The easiest way to show off your expertise is speaking, either at a conference or by setting up your workshops. If you're nervous about speaking, consider joining a panel at an event.
Many service-based businesses find social media one of the best places to connect and build a relationship with potential clients and customers. Do you have social media followers on Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin? While you don't want to annoy them with constant sales messages, you can interact and converse with them, increasing their awareness of you as well as building a relationship.
Purchase a Lead List
While this can be expensive and often achieves low results, if you're in a bind, you can purchase mailing or contact lists of prospects that fit your target market (demographics, location etc.). Do a Google search for "mailing lists", and you will find dozens of companies. In most cases, businesses use this list for direct mail marketing, but you can also call or email if those form of contact information is provided.
Once you have a list of potential clients, it's time to reach out. Here are some ideas.
Over The Phone
Cold calling scares many people, but if you lead by asking what they need and then present your product or service as a solution, you'll have better results. Use an easy flowing, conversational script to introduce your product or purpose for calling. Remember, telling isn't selling. If you are doing all the talking, the likelihood of convincing someone they need your product or service isn't going to be high. Asking questions and presenting your product or services benefits turns the focus of the call onto them instead of you.
Close with a call-to-action, such as asking them to commit to a trial period or giving you an email or physical address so that you can send additional information. Finally, if an individual says they are not interested, ask them if they know of someone who might be and get a referral.
While email isn't as effective as a direct conversation, it's less scary and often a great way to introduce yourself. The trick is not simply to send a "buy" email, but instead, offer something of value. Give a brief explanation of who you are, then provide a coupon or a free article on a relevant topic. Review the anti-spam laws, which require you to include an unsubscribe option to every contact. Here are some additional resources on email marketing.
There are many ways to meet potential clients and customers in person. For B2B, you can walk into their business. Or you can call and make an appointment to meet for B2B or B2C. In many cases, you can meet prospects while you're out and about at the grocery store or on an aeroplane, or wherever you may be.
It's important to remember a few key points to effective in-person selling. Don't tell them everything all at once. Instead, find out their wants and needs and tailor your presentation to show how your produce or service is the solution to their problem. Always have sales material on hand to help you in this process (such as samples or catalogues). Make sure and end with a call to action and a promise to follow-up.
Like email, direct mail doesn't have as high of an effective rate, but it's a great way to increase awareness of your business. Create the piece you plan to send, whether that is a postcard, brochure, letter etc. Once you have the finished piece in hand, you can either address and stamp them yourself, or hire a fulfilment house to do it for you. If you are mailing many pieces, there are both time and cost benefits to using a fulfilment house to address, stuff, and stamp. A fulfilment house can get a bulk stamp rate, which can save up to 40% off the postage price. However, a hand placed stamp may be less likely to look like junk mail.
Every company needs to acquire new customers to keep their business running smoothly. While there are many ways to approach customer acquisition, they all result in the same thing.
Reaching your target audience is an important step in marketing your business and your products. It is only when you reach your target audience effectively that you'll be able to drive more sales conversions.
Leverage these effective techniques to reach your target audience and grow your business.
Do you have any questions related to the steps mentioned above? Please share them in the comment section below. We'll try our best to answer them for you.