Landing clients? No problem. How to win your first client
Google the term ‘first-time entrepreneur’ and you will be awash with articles offering ‘top tips’ on how to turn your new enterprise into a flourishing business. Trouble is, while these articles will undoubtedly contain some useful snippets of advice, few actually address what’s really going to be important in growing your business: namely, how to actually make sales, and win clients.
Like many new business owners, I too started out with nothing more than a laptop and a strong desire to succeed. But that alone won’t guarantee you success – for that to happen you need sales. To get sales, you’ll need to grab the attention of the audience, and businesses you’d like to work with. That means you’ll need to figure out how to get the right types of exposure, in front of the right type of people, which will lead to the types of interest, enquiries, and contacts that it’s up to you to turn into clients.
Here are some of the most effective methods that I have employed in my business to generate the sales that have taken us from a standing start of just one person and zero income 12 months ago, to a six-person team with a six-figure turnover today.
Share and share alike
Too often people and businesses think that simply having a social media profile and posting a few messages here and there is enough to be effective— it isn’t. You need to be active, and produce and share content that is relevant to your audience.
Follow companies you would like to do business with, retweet and share some of their content. Follow the people they follow, and post daily news stories or articles from your blog that they would also be interested in reading. This gets you on their radar, and shows you off as a business that keeps abreast of all the latest news in the sector.
Choose the right social media for you
Love it or loathe it, social media can be a great source of new business leads, providing you use it correctly. You don’t need every social media platform under the sun, so understand where your target clients hang out and target your social media activity to that audience.
For instance, Facebook is great for ‘brand-focused’ businesses, whereas Twitter is good for those seeking real-time news consumption. LinkedIn, the social network especially for professionals, is also a must, as this is where brands go to show off their professional opinions and insights. Remember, there is no point having multiple social media platforms if you’re only going to nurture one: it’ll look terrible for a customer to come across a platform with your branding, and either thin, or no content. Having a solid social media plan will save you a lot of time and make your messaging more effective and targeted.
Voice your opinion, but don’t be opinionated
Peter Drucker, a prolific figure in the development of the modern business corporation, once said that we gain more power by giving it away. Your knowledge is power, so if you’ve garnered significant experience that could benefit your peers, it’s a good idea to give others an insight into your way of thinking.
LinkedIn is perfect for this – post an article under your own profile every couple of weeks and share it across the various groups where your target market is most active. Articles posted this way are seen not just by your own connections, but across their networks too, thereby expanding your audience. This helps boost your personal brand and positions you as a key thought leader in your sector.
Network for Britain
You may not be a fan of networking but you know what, most of your prospective clients probably feel the same. Look at the key events where you are likely to come to face to face with those people you would like to do business with, and go along. Scan the room and spot the person who looks like they know a lot of people (there’s always one) and introduce yourself. They can introduce you to other attendees, some of which may prove to be a good source for future referrals.
The very fact that you have set up on your own business suggests you consider yourself an expert in your field – so shout about it. Make a list of the important conferences and expos in your field and contact the event organisers to see if there are any opportunities for you to speak at one of the seminars, or even just to join a debating panel. These not only raise your personal profile, but also position you as a go-to person in your sector.
Talk to the media
Every sector, no matter how specialist, has a range of publications and online sites dedicated to it, and journalists are constantly under pressure to find new stories to include in the next issue, and the one after that. Find out which ones write about the subjects of most interest to you and give them a quick call – is there anything they are working on now or have planned for the future that you could help them with? They may quote you, and even ask you to submit articles of your own where your company details will be included.
Having a blog that is regularly updated demonstrates that you really do know your onions, boosts your SEO, and drives traffic to your site. But blogs only work if they are timely and relevant to your audience, and can provide insights or help for readers to gain a greater understanding of a certain subject. Blogs are worth their weight in gold for business owners, and if you don’t have one set up already, it’s high time you get to it.
Promote your new blog posts across your social media networks not just once, but several times – take a few main points of your blog, and turn them into separate social media posts. By focusing on different points, you can catch the eye of different audience members who perhaps weren’t interested the first time. Avoid coming across as ‘spammy’ by posting for the sake of it: it only takes one click to ‘unfollow’.
Winning new business quickly is critical to the success of your new venture, but it’s remarkably easier than you may at first think. If you know your market inside and out and are proactive in getting yourself ‘out there’, you will generate enquiries and referrals – it’s then down to you to introduce them to your business, and explain how you can meet their needs.
Paul MacKenzie-Cummins is the managing director of ClearlyPR – one of the fastest growing PR Marketing agencies in Wales and the south west.
Published Friday January 2, 2015