19 Ways to Get More Business
By Janice Hostager
There are very few small business owners that don’t want to get more business.
I remember when I launched my first business many years ago. It was a custom-designed invitation business. I built my own website, designed and produced several invitation samples and was ready to open my (electronic) doors!
With sweaty palms, I pushed the upload button on my site…and it was live! Then I waited for orders to come in. And waited…and waited.
It was a disappointment at the time. I naively thought “if you build it they will come”, but I realize now what completely unrealistic. Maybe you’ve been there too. Almost every small business has wondered, at some point, how to get more business. But as you probably know, there is so much more to making a business grow than putting up a website or starting a blog. It takes customers– lots of them.
But where do those customers come from? That’s what you need to address in the first step of your marketing path, what I call the Trail to the Sale.™
When we’re first in business, we often like to play it safe. We aren’t quite sure of our footing, so we like to do what others in our industry are doing. Copy from the best, right?
Unfortunately doing what everyone else does will get you lost in a sea of sameness. How often have you heard businesses use the phrase “ Your premier full-service… or “Our trained and skilled staff will …”. These could be any company, anywhere. They don’t stand out in their marketplace because they’re doing what everyone else is doing.
There are many ways to get noticed in your market. The starting point is to really focus on your best, most profitable customer and get to know them well. Once you do that, it’s much easier to figure out how (and where) best to reach them so they can discover you.
Yes, narrowing down to your best customer is scary. And yes, you will certainly leave people out. But you will still bring in customers not in this target audience anyways, and become an expert in the eyes of the customer you really do want to attract.
Think of it like this. If you’re looking for someone to cater your daughter’s wedding, would you go to a business that advertises “housecleaning/lawn care/catering”? Or would you go to one that specializes in wedding catering? I know what I’d choose!
Ways to get noticed by your target customer and get more business
1. Search engine traffic
Whether you have an online business or a physical location, optimizing your website for search engines is the place to start. 90% of customers look up a business online before considering doing business with them. Using keywords on your website, written organically in the text, in your headlines and as alternate text on your photos will help you rank higher in those search terms your customer will use to find you. Remember to use “long tail keywords” as well – sentences they would search for, such as “cupcake bakery in Chicago”
2. Social media
These days, people have social media overload, so give your customers a reason to follow you on social media, such as “follow us on Pinterest for great DIY tips” or “follow us on Facebook for special discounts!”.
3. Social media groups
You can create a special social media groups on LinkedIn or Facebook where you can share added value to your customers, such as member-only deals or how-to tips. These are valuable because group members get extra notifications when you’ve posted in the group, unlike your page posts which get lost in the newsfeed.
4. Networking groups
If you have a local business or even an online business, getting out there to network can be very valuable. Not only is it a way to meet customers, but it’s a great way to connect with key players in your industry. This can help both on a national and local basis.
5. Personal connections
Sometimes there’s nothing like word of mouth. When I had a design business, this is where I got the majority of my customers. It’s also an easy way to know if you’re doing a good job when your customers recommend you to others. It’s also part of the power of networking.
6. Joint ventures
Do you know an owner or a non-competing business that shares a similar audience? Teaming up to host an event, a seminar or a promotion can help you bring in customers, especially if they’re a more established business with a larger customer base. For example, a bakery can work with a wedding photographer to promote a special deal.
7. Blog posts
As long as people search for information online, blogging will be relevant. Yes, it takes some discipline to do it on a regular basis, but I know from my own experience blogs can generate a lot of traffic to your website. In fact, it brings the most organic search traffic to my site.
8. Podcast guests–or start your own podcast!
Podcasting has become the new radio, and it will continue to grow. Send out an email to someone who has a blog in your target customer’s arena and let them know what you can offer them. The bigger the podcast, the bigger the payoff. And if it’s relevant to your business, why not consider starting your own podcast?
9. News articles
Working to become a resource to a reporter takes some time and connections, but the payoff can be huge. Remember, they need you as much as you need them. And if you have an idea of a story you can pitch to them, send a quick, to-the-point email to a relevant reporter and get their feedback. Pay attention to current events as well. For instance, if you sell car tires and you’ve had some icy weather, pitch a news story such as “5 ways to stay safe driving on an icy street.” It’s a tried and true way to get more business.
10. Trade shows
It’s great to promote at a trade show, but it’s also good to attend one and make some connections. Building relationships is a key way to get more business. If you decide to promote your business at a trade show, give people a good reason to purchase from you that day, such as an outstanding bundle deal or a low priced special offer.
11. Product endorsements
Every community or niche has people who are people well-known. Get introduced to them and piggyback on their fame and ask them to try your product or service. Or if you can find a local or national celebrity who is relevant to your target audience, snap a photo with them post it on your website. You’ll be amazed at the power of a celebrity endorsement.
12. Amazon ebooks
There are a lot of books on Amazon, but writing an e-book–even a low-cost ebook–can bring people to you. Make sure it’s your best work, though, or it will drive people away from your business.
People would much rather do business with someone they know, but doing business with a friend’s referral is second best. Encourage happy customers to tell others through referral programs. Or just ask them!
14. Charity events
Hosting an event to benefit a charity or making a donation to a charity for each product you sell will get attention from your target customer. Be sure to make sure it’s the same charity your target customer would follow. It might be great to sponsor a little league baseball team, but if your target customer is women age 65+, they’re likely not to even notice.
15. Awareness ads
Think outside the box for these! When I did design work for a local Chamber of Commerce I would often have small businesses give me their business cards to run for an ad. I can tell you with much certainty they likely drove no traffic to their business. As with other options, make sure your ads are highly targeted and relevant to your customer. Facebook offers laser focused targeting with their ads, so if your target customer is on Facebook, this would be a good option.
16. Guest posts on high-profile blogs
Guest posting is alive and well. Blogs need writers. Choose blogs whose audience aligns with yours and send the bloggers an email or check their website for blog submission guidelines. Ask to have a bio paragraph at the end of the article and include a link to your website and a social media site.
17. Prize drawings/ Promotions
A high-profile giveaway can work well, especially one that’s promoted on other blogger’s site or on their social media. The more useful the prize to your target customer, the better the response will be. Apps such as ShortStack make this very easy, and they have a free plan.
If you have a product people can sample (such as food or lotions), samples are a powerful way to make sales. Check with the stores that carry your product and set it up on a busy shopping day. It’s also a valuable way to get feedback from the customers and even ideas for new products.
19. Think outside the box
The point of this stage of marketing is to get noticed, so anything that will get your target customer to take notice of you will be valuable. Download the free Planning Worksheet to brainstorm about things that would get your customer to notice your business.
Be sure to download the Planning Guide: “Getting Customers to Find You” to get more insights about how to determine the perfect idea for your target customer. Click here now.
What have you done that made you stand out from your competition? Leave a comment below to let us know!