Starting a new business is difficult under the best circumstances. But in today's economic climate, it's difficult to make a name for yourself when most people are trying desperately to cut back on expenses. Yet, you shouldn’t get discouraged. There are easy (and free) ideas out there that can help. Here are three tips to bring in more customers as a brand-new business.
First, a “new business” is generally a business that has existed for less than a year. However, if you're still struggling to make a name for yourself but you've been in business for several years, these tips still apply.
Tip #1: Spend Time Working on Your Business Every Day
What you should be doing depends on the type of business you’re in. But generally, there are skills that all new businesspeople need. For instance, digital marketing. Digital marketing and social media marketing are two of the least expensive forms of marketing and they’re ideal for getting your name out there. However, these forms of marketing can feel alien if all you've ever used social media to do is share pictures of your vacations and pets. If you don't have a good grasp on how to develop know, like, and trust using digital platforms, this is one of the first things you'll want to work on. There are many free online resources to help you learn.
If you are well-versed in marketing, there are still other areas of your business that you could spend time on such as market research, researching your competition, exploring the needs of new demographics, understanding your ideal customer's needs, outlining goals, and learning what you need to know from other businesses in your area.
Make a list of the things you think are critical to your business and write out the components/steps you need to learn. Then take this list and assign each item an amount of time you think it would take to either research or learn what you need to know about it. Keep this list next to where you work. That way when you have downtime in your business you can immediately start on the smaller tasks on your list. You will have interruptions so keep a notebook nearby (or do it electronically). In it, detail what you've learned and where so you can easily go back to your research/resources and continue where you left off once you’re able to.
Tip #2: Learn to Sell
Selling can be one of the most intimidating things about starting a new company, especially if you're an introvert. Talking about your business feels like talking about yourself and most of us were raised not to brag. However, talking about your products or services is not bragging.
It's easier to sell if you think of yourself as doing your customer a favor. They have a problem; you're a problem solver. Go into each customer interaction with that mentality. You are here to help. Doing so will not only make you feel more comfortable but your potential customers as well. People respond to those they believe have their best interests at heart. Pushy salespeople are no longer effective. Helpfulness motivates sales.
Tip #3: Consider What Your Audience Doesn't Know and Educate Them on It
If you're fortunate, buyers understand what you're offering and know why they need it. However, with most businesses, this is not the case. Even in established businesses, there's an element of education that is required.
Why you and not the other business down the street?
What makes your product or service unique?
Video is an incredible medium for addressing these questions. You want customers to know, like, and trust you. People are more apt to trust someone they can see. That way, they can read body language and feel more at ease with positive facial expressions. You should use all types of content, but video is especially valuable for new businesses trying to get their name (and face) out there. Don’t worry if you hate the way you look on video. There’s a filter that can help.
Finally, if you're a new business and you're trying to build a loyal customer base, one of the easiest ways to get the word out is to join your chamber. The chamber staff knows businesspeople as well as local leaders. The chamber can make helpful introductions and make suggestions based on their experience working in your community. Most people are surprised when they find out the number of inquiries chambers receive. Visitors and new residents often stop at the chamber to learn more about the town they're in. In addition to working on your business, adopting a helpful approach, and educating your audience, partnering with the chamber is an important part of any sales and marketing strategy for a new business.
Christina Metcalf is a writer/ghostwriter who believes in the power of story. She works with small businesses, chambers of commerce, and business professionals who want to make an impression and grow a loyal customer/member base. She loves road trips, hates exclamation points, and believes the world would be a better place if we all had our own theme song that played when we entered the room. What would yours be?