Having trouble finding customers for your new home-based business? If so, you're not alone.
Many people who start their own business quickly discover that finding customers is a lot more difficult than they had thought. They call a few friends to let them know they’ve started a business, print out fliers and stuff them in neighborhood mailboxes, set up a website, run an ad in the local newspaper, or buy pay-per-click ads online, and sit back and wait for customers to come. When the leads and sales don’t happen, guilt (over the money they’ve spent to set the business up), frustration and stress set in.
Sound depressing? It is. But you don't have to fall into this trap. And if you have fallen into it, you can climb out. Here's how:
Make a commitment to marketing. Marketing isn't a one-time activity. To find customers and keep them coming in, you need to actively promote your business in as many ways as you can on an ongoing basis.
Learn to network. Businesses and consumers don't buy products or services from companies. They buy them from people. People they know and trust. Become an active participant in business or community groups, local home owners associations, parent’s groups, religious groups, and other groups that attract the type of people you want for customers. Become active in the group, volunteering to help with events or other needs. Your goal: to get known as a person and ultimately to get yourself known as the go-to person when someone needs jewelry, someone to solve a computer problems, or whatever your specialty is.
Remember that word of mouth advertising is the single biggest source of customers for home-based businesses. As you build your network and start to bring in those first customers, do everything you can to be sure positive word of mouth spreads about you. Bend over backward to to do exceptional work and get it out on time. The customer may never thank you, but they'll remember your work and call on you again -- or refer you when their friends or family need what you sell.
Ask for referrals. Asking for referrals is easy once you realize you aren't begging for business. You're just asking customers and friends if they know anyone who has the kind of problem your product or services can solve.
Get other businesses to refer business to you, too. This isn't as hard as you think. Find people who serve the same market but sell different products or services from yours. A party planner may well hear of people who need gift baskets made up. And, the gift basket business is very likely to meet customers who need events planned. Talk to each other. Refer each other. Both of your businesses will grow.
Do a reality check. If despite your best efforts your product or service isn't selling, use your network groups to find out why. Even if you researched the need for your product or service before you started the business, you may still run into customer resistance. If so, question your prospects. Find out what it is they really need. What problem they need solved. How they are getting the problem solved now. And what they are willing to spend to solve the problem. Ask if there's anything you could change about your business to make them interested in buying from you. Whatever you do, don’t take the answers personally. Use the information you glean to learn what changes you need to make to land sales and bring in customers on a steady basis.
Need more help? Check out these 16 ideas for finding customers
Copyright 2013 Janet Attard. All rights reserved.