One of the biggest questions that keep small business owners and entrepreneurs up at night is how do I get more clients? However, getting more clients doesn’t have to be hard, it simply requires taking action, and the right steps in the right direction. First it is important to understand that not every one may be a good client. Therefore, it is essential for you to define who your ideal client is. If you are already in business, this should be easy. Refer to your past clients. What do they have in common? What are their key characteristics and demographics? Who do you enjoy working with? Do they belong to a specific industry or group. Once you have got your ideal client profiled you will be in a better position to market to them more effectively and successfully. Here are my top 20 proven and affordable ways I have used to get more clients. As you consider these marketing tactics, keep in mind that in most cases it is not enough to use one tactic. You can get more clients and reach more people by incorporating a few tactics at the same time.
1. Pay Per Click
One of the things I love about pay per click marketing is the ability to generate leads almost instantly, when done correctly. Google, Bing and Yahoo Search are all online marketplaces where your customers are actively looking to buy. Pay per click allows you to get in front of potential clients right away. The key is starting with research and finding the keywords that your target customers are using to find businesses like yours online. Next is making sure that your campaign is set up correctly and that you are testing the different keyword match types to improve performance. It is highly recommended that you have unique landing pages for different campaigns or ads.
While SEO won’t give you results as fast as Pay Per Click, it is not to be overlooked. SEO is a far more cost effective way to get more clients than pay per click. Users also tend to click more on SEO results than pay per click ads. Again just like pay per click, you need to start with keyword research and ensure that you perform both on-page and off-page optimization. Focus on one keyword per page, by placing it in your page url, your page title and headlines, your page content, your image file names and alt tags and in your meta description. It’s also important to get links from other websites to yours in order to boost your ranking. Get a SEO Guide Here.
I couldn’t run my business without email marketing. I just don’t see how. With every lead that comes in, only a handful of people buy right away. Email allows me to easily and consistently follow up, build credibility, share case studies and demonstrate my expertise which ultimately leads to me turning a prospect into a client. If there is one thing that I do consistently in my business, it is email marketing. If you think you don’t have an email list, think again. To get started with email, start looking at everyone who has ever contacted you to inquire about your product or service including your customers and start cultivating a list. Decide how often you will touch base with your list, and what type of information will be valuable to them. I find sharing tips and best practices, case studies, and sending out promotional offers works well for me. You need to test your list to see what will work best for you including the best day and time to send your email.
When it comes to attracting more clients, Craigslist is another great avenue for getting the word out about your business. When I first started my business I posted ads on Craigslist giving away free websites to build my portfolio. Then I started offering my paid services and in one year alone, I earned $25,000 just on Craigslist. You can post your ad in the services section, and you can also respond to people who are posting requests for services. When posting ads, use a combination of text and images that make your ad stand out. Readers are more likely to click on ads with images. Also, include your phone number and link to your website address in your ads.
5. Get More Clients with Strategic Partnerships
Just starting out and don’t have a budget for marketing? A strategic partnership is a great way to get more clients. Find out who targets the same market as you and determine how you can turn it into a mutually beneficial relationship, either as an added value to your target market or through revenue sharing. For example if you’re a copywriter, web designers and marketing agencies could be an ideal partner. Web designers almost always need help with creating content for their clients website. In-fact, not getting content fast enough is one of the main reasons web design projects are delayed. As a copywriter you can partner with web designers to help them solve this problem and help their clients in the process. Web designers can also partner with larger agencies who have an overflow of work but don’t want to take on additional full time employees. The internet has made it so easy for you to research and do outreach to build strategic partnerships. The key is creating a pitch that is attractive to your target partner that spells out the benefits to them as well as their customers. Getting the partnership may require continuous follow-up. In addition you want to make it easy for your strategic partners to do business with you by having a system in place and providing them with support in the form of marketing content, materials and anything else that is vital to the success of your partnership.
6. Attend Networking Events
I used to think networking events were a waste of time. That was until I started attending the networking events that my ideal clients were attending. These events are a great way to build relationships, gain recognition and attract clients. Once you have found the events that are right for you the key is attending consistently so people get to know who you are and what you do. After a period of time you will become one of the recommended people in the group. Remember, don’t just focus on what others can do for you, focus on who you can help as well. This will go a long way in helping you get referrals.
7. Free Workshops
Before you think ‘why would I give free workshops?’ think of it as an easy way to get in front of your ideal clients and target audience to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise. Free workshops are a great way to build your email list and get clients. The key is choosing the right organizations that consist of your ideal target clients. Once you have the opportunity to provide them with a free workshop, don’t be afraid to go in-depth and provide value by distilling your process or best secrets. Yes, there are some that may try to attempt to do it on their own, but the majority of people will want someone to help them and since you have proven that you are knowledgeable, you are likely to be the person they trust. Be sure to give away a freebie or special offer at the end of the workshop by having attendees provide their information. The key is in the follow-up.
8. Guest Blogging
Guest blogging is a great way to reach a larger audience by capitalizing on the traffic of websites that have a huge following. Some websites require an application to get approved to become a guest contributor. Take a couple hours and search online for editorial websites or blogs that are specific to your target audience. In most cases there is a link at the bottom of the site that says “become a contributor”. Read what they are looking for and submit a request along with samples of your past articles and a bio about yourself to be considered. Once you are approved, be sure to include a byline at the end of each article you publish. In addition, when you create an article, create an opportunity to build your email list by linking your article to a lead magnet or opt-in page where someone can download a free guide, report etc. in exchange for their name and email address. This allows you to build your email list so that you can get in front of them on a regular basis and educate them about your products, services and expertise.
9. Tell Your Friends What You Do
My first client was a friend. He owned a real estate company, and I was just starting out. He mentioned that he needed a website and direct mail postcards and he became my first client. Be sure to let everyone in your circle know what you do, including past colleagues, family members and close acquaintances. Enlist them to spread the word as well. Provide them with your cards to hand out to anyone they may come across that might be interested in what you do. Make a list of your friends and close acquaintances and identify the ones you haven’t told, or haven’t touched base with in a while and reconnect.
10. Online Marketplaces
Websites like Fiverr, Elance, and Thumbtack are great places to get clients in exchange for a small fee or in some cases free. They do all the marketing to drive traffic to their website and help you get discovered by your target audience. It’s a win-win situation. I have hired people on Fiverr and Elance for various tasks such as copyediting and transcription, and I have gotten leads from Thumbtack as well. The great thing is that if you do a good job you can benefit from repeat customers. Be sure to post samples of your work, testimonials or demos on your profile for these sites. Also encourage customers to post reviews. A good review goes a long way when users are looking for a service provider.
11. Answer Questions in LinkedIn Groups
Whether you’re targeting B2B or Consumers with a professional background, LinkedIn is a great place to be for several reasons. First, if you’re just starting out with a limited budget, simply finding groups on LinkedIn where your target audience hangs out and answering questions can help you get noticed. I once had a prospect who contacted me about marketing her resume business. She had a limited budget so I told her to go to LinkedIn and find groups of her ideal clients and offer help with their questions. Within one week she emailed me to let me know that she had gotten a client. Marketing doesn’t always have to be paid, if you are willing to invest the time you can get leads and sales.
12. Use Facebook Ads
Facebook ads are a great way to reach your target audience, build brand awareness, drive traffic to your website, increase likes on your Facebook page and build your email list. Facebook Ads offer an advantage over Google Ads because due to the huge amount of data it collects on their users, you are able to target your ideal client precisely and get known. Most importantly, it’s relatively inexpensive compared to Google Ads. If you’re marketing to a cold target audience on Facebook it is best to try to generate a lead either by giving away a free download or driving traffic back to your website with promoted post. You can also use Facebook to target a list of people that already know about you.
13. Post Content in Facebook Groups
Join Facebook groups that your ideal target audience participates in. Start with 3 to 5 groups, so that you can manage it and avoid overwhelm. Post valuable content to the group that includes content both from your website and from other websites that you think maybe of value to your target audience. Apply the 80/20 rule, post 80% of insightful and helpful content and use the other 20% to talk about your service, events or product. When posting in Facebook groups focus on quality over quantity. Consistency is the key. I have gotten results simply by posting once per day to a group. In addition, to increase likes to your Facebook page or to build awareness, answer questions and comment on other people’s posts. Within a group you can also search to see what questions users have around your topic of expertise and answer them.
14. Be A Source For The Media
Getting mentioned in the media can be a great boost for your business. It adds credibility to you and your company and it can also help you generate new leads and awareness for your business. HelpaReporterOut.com (HARO) is a great way to locate opportunities. You have to be diligent at it for a while. Some may be minor outlets, others may be larger publications. I still generate leads from publications I have contributed to or been mentioned in years ago. If it is online, it’s the gift that keeps on giving. I first got to appear on ABC to get my business question answered by a small business expert, years later I have contributed to that expert’s blog and made additional appearances. The key is to stay in touch with journalist and experts long after your first appearance.
15. Use Industry Vertical Directories
Just about every business has an industry that provides a directory specific to their niche. For example, there are directories out there for therapist only. Often these directories spend a lot of time and money promoting their service which in turn leads to exposure for you. Find directories in your specialty. Most of them will offer a free listing. You can then decide if you want to upgrade to a premium listing, where you can get even more exposure and pertinent information such as how much traffic the site receives, and what results others are typically getting from their listings. Some directories even provide leads on pay per lead basis, where they sell the same lead to as many as 5 people. This is another way to get clients. In my early days I did this and I still have clients today from this method. The key is responding quickly to the leads.
16. Activate Referrals
Everyone loves referrals, and while I am a big advocate of not relying on referrals alone to grow your business, it can still be a great source of new business if you have a process in place to keep the referrals coming. When you have worked with a client and they have praised you for a job well done, that’s a great time to ask for a referral. You can say, “I’m glad you like my work, do you know anyone that could benefit from my services?” Second, you want to make it easy for others to refer you, so have a prepared email template ready that you can share with clients who would like to refer you, with the language you would like them to use. Another great way to get referrals is to include useful information or content that you would like others to share on your website thank you pages. This could be simply sharing your website with others, or it could be sharing a great article. These are all great ways to get the word out about your business.
17. Brand Your Work Whenever You Can
As the owner of a web design company, one of the benefits we get is our ability to brand our work by adding site designed by ______ at the bottom of each website. Many of our current clients have found us simply by visiting websites that we have designed. Take a look at your own business; are you able to brand your work so that you may be discovered by others? For example, I’m sure you have seen lawncare by ABC Lawncare, Secured by ADT signs in the homes of others. These service providers are branding their work, which makes it easy for neighbors to see and think of them when they are in need of their services.
18. Volunteer at Industry Conferences
It’s great to attend industry conferences, but volunteering gives you inside access. Are there any hot industry conferences that attract your ideal clients? Look into volunteer opportunities. This will put you in the mix where you are working the floor and helping the attendees. Not to mention it provides you with a level of credibility to be associated with the conference and the other volunteers.
19. Your Vendors
Your suppliers and vendors are also great advocates for spreading the word about your business. Look into setting up a referral agreement with them or getting them to add your product or service on their website.
20. Use LinkedIn Ads
LinkedIn also offers you the opportunity to utilize their paid advertising services. LinkedIn Display ads can help you generate awareness and brand recognition. LinkedIn Inmail and LinkedIn Sponsored post is also a great way to get in front of your target audience and get your message delivered directly to their inbox or their feed. Like Facebook, LinkedIn offers very granular data so that you can narrow down the profile of your target audience for better targeted marketing campaigns. The key is building a profile of your ideal clients so that you can choose segments within LinkedIn for people that fit the profile. Hone in on the problems or challenges that they are facing and provide a compelling message or content that will resonate with them.
What strategies are you currently using to get more clients? Comment below.
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I find this list helpful for creating more clients for my business. I’m intrigued with #11 and #14, I have not tried being active in social media but this I’m willing to try. Thanks for the list Nicole!
Thanks for your reply Denise!
Thank you for sharing practical and valuable techniques that can help us acquire more clients for our business. Great insight.
Thanks for your reply Thomas!
Re: #1 On the PPC / Adwords front, I have assisted and worked with several local home service business accounts where owners have cost themselves a ton of money going about their set up and management DIY and losing a ton of dollars. Your settings are crucial, avoiding straight up broad match keywords, taking advantage of the extra ‘real estate’ ad extensions can provide you with, and continually checking your search terms and adding negative keywords to campaigns and ad groups. Recently assisted a deck installer who literally had no negative keywords and was getting clicks for mower decks, skateboard… Read more »
Thanks for your comment Luna!