What’s the difference between an idea and a business? Just one living, breathing, paying customer. If you’re trying to launch your business but don’t know how to find customers, this post is for you. Take a look at these key steps to get started on the road to finding customers.
Step 1: DEFINE YOURSELF
First up, you need to do some soul searching for your business. Take the time to create a road map and it will be much easier to navigate as you grow. It’s your business, so you have the freedom to update the road map as you go, but there are probably a few things you already know you will and won’t do.
Questions to ask:
- Who are you? Starting a business can be pretty personal. Think about what your business means to you and what elements of your personality you want it to reflect.
- What is unique about your offering? Dig in and find the gaps that your product or service aim to fill. Whether it’s a brand new product or a better version of something existing in your industry, you have to know what value you’re bringing to the table.
- Is there a specific problem you’re solving? Key word: specific. Something sets you apart and makes you different even in a well-established market. Remember that and write it down.
- What do you stand for, and what do you refuse to compromise on? Be honest with yourself. Some things just aren’t worth the money, right? Make these decisions before they arise so that you don’t have to battle with standards at every turn as your business grows.
Step 2: RESEARCH YOUR MARKET
Now that you’ve done some introspection, let’s shift your focus outward. Narrowing your target for your first wave of clients will allow you to develop expertise and rapport fast. It may seem crazy to narrow the field of potential customers but doing it will help you grow strategically and quickly.
- Who are your customers? Where do they hang out? Do some demographic research and find your “in.” Your customers are out there looking for information just like you are. You landed on this blog, where are they landing?
- B2B: What industries? What size company? What other vendors do they use and trust? How can you build rapport?
- B2C: Who are they? Do they engage on social media? On discussion forums? What brands do they use, follow and trust? How can you get connected?
- What issues do they have, and why are you the best solution for them? You should be able to lead with confidence that is rooted in facts. Find the gaps and know how you can fill them.
- What issues might they have that you do not have the solution to? Are these issues deal-breakers? Know your limits. If there is something that you can’t do, have the self-awareness to admit that. Set yourself up for success.
Step 3: PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE
Now that you’ve got a solid understanding of what you have to offer and who might actually want it, it’s time to make a move. So let’s take some of the discoveries you made back in Step 2 and put them into action.
- You know where they hang out. Go there. Join user groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. Go to meetups, conferences, trade shows, golf courses. Find a way to cross their path that makes sense. Please don’t pitch a potential client while using a urinal.
- Talk to them about issues they’re having. Offer your solutions. Start a discussion on a LinkedIn group. Make relevant and well-written comments on a Facebook post. It’s important to show that you’re an invested member of the community you’re involved in and not just out fishing for sales.
- Don’t go after the customers that you know you can’t help yet. This doesn’t mean you can’t ever help them. You just need to gain some experience and feedback from clients whose needs you can meet and exceed while you grow.
Step 4: FOLLOW THROUGH
- Deliver on what you’ve committed. Be sure to manage customer expectations. Under-promise and over-deliver. Basically don’t make promises you can’t keep, but go above and beyond your promises where possible.
- Seek feedback regularly. Create an open line of communication with your clients. Start the conversation, don’t just wait for a meltdown. Respond to feedback quickly and completely. This will make it easier for you to manage expectations and help you to learn and grow faster and smarter.
- Learn everything you can about your clients. Identify opportunities to expand your product or service and drive adoption. Your customers will have plenty of ideas for improvement that they have discovered through their unique use case.
- Nurture relationships. When your customers know that you’re doing everything you can to honor your commitments and help them succeed, they will likely return the favor. Strong relationships can result in better feedback, good rapport and more referrals.
Get out there and go for it, folks!