One of the scariest parts of being a small business owner is figuring out how to find customers and clients. How will you get the word out about your business to your target audience and prospective clients?
Many articles will tell you to be patient when you start a business. That it will take time to grow your client base. And they’re not wrong, but you can’t have the mentality of “build it and they will come.” People have to know about your business, and they need to know why they should engage with you.
Here are a few tips to help you get started and ultimately grow your business into the company you know it can be.
Seven Tips for How to Find Clients
Promote Yourself. And Do It Often.
Promoting yourself may not feel natural, but it needs to be something that you grow to feel comfortable with. Friends and family want to see you succeed, they won’t be annoyed by you sharing blog articles you’ve written or social media posts your company has made. In fact, the best way friends and family can support you is by engaging with your brand on social networking sites and sharing your content with their connections.
When you’re first launching your business, you’re probably more aware of the need to promote yourself and your company. However, many of us (myself included) let this fall off the radar when we’re swamped with client work. When we’re barely making it through our to-do lists with our current projects, we don’t really have the mental capacity to think about what’s coming next. And while client referrals are wonderful, we can’t rely on those to keep paying clients reaching out to us.
The best advice I can offer in this space is to create a schedule. I’m a web designer and content strategist for my company Excite Creative Studios, and when it comes to promoting my business – I break my business’ social media updates into the following: 30% promotional, 30% educational, 20% motivational/sharable content, 10% sharing client’s posts, and 10% company culture.
The promotional content gets broken down into recent client projects that have launched, testimonials, any specials that we’re currently running, etc… Sometimes we even blend together this category of content with company culture. This allows us to showcase our employees as experts in their fields. Sharing your expertise is a great way to attract the ideal client and also present content that feels more personable.
If you create a schedule and content calendar for yourself, it will be much easier to keep up with. It’s important that you stay proactive with promoting yourself and your business even while you’re tackling your current workload. People need to be reminded that you are there and open for business.
Keep In Touch With Previous Clients.
Stay engaged with your clients even have you’ve completed their project. Staying on their radar and keeping them informed with industry trends (whether the occasional personalized email or a company newsletter) is a great way to showcase other products or services that they might be interested in.
Never underestimate the power of a simple and friendly email. Sometimes just checking in on someone, sharing content you feel would interest them, or complimenting them on recent news can make a huge difference. It also keeps you top of mind with your previous clients. And it makes a referral a no-brainer when they encounter someone that needs your services.
Be Available And Be Easy To Contact.
One of the number one complaints I’ve heard about designers is that they’re hard to get in touch with once you engage with them. That blows my mind. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t make yourself easy to get in touch with and responsive to your clients’ needs. Make it your priority to provide an exceptional client experience. Your marketing happens in your sleep when you have people sharing your contact information, recommending your services, and saying how easy you were to work with.
Also, whether you have just a landing page, a full website, or just a social media presence – whatever marketing materials you have, you should make it easy for clients to find your contact information.
Quality Is ALWAYS More Important Than Quality
You’ve heard this saying before, and you know it’s true. But it always bears reminding. High-quality work is always more valuable than a lot of subpar work.
The work that you put out there to showcase the ability of yourself and your company needs to be work that you’re truly proud of and would be appealing to the type of client-base you want to attract. Don’t push yourself to do 3 blog articles a week just to do 3 articles week. Do 1 article a month and do it really well and with purpose.
That being said if you can do 3 blog articles a week that are all done really well and with purpose – go for it. But always place quality over quantity when you start looking at how you market yourself and your business.
Don’t Be Afraid To Say No.
This is one of the hardest lessons that women have to learn in general. We want to take care of people. We want to make people happy. I personally have greatly struggled with telling people that I can’t do something, because I hate disappointing people – family, friends, or clients.
However, there is a great power and a great deal of self-care in knowing your limits, and being able to say no when something doesn’t make sense. If a client wants something in 72 hours, and it’s not possible – or you know that your quality of life will suffer – don’t be afraid to say no. You teach people how to treat you, and you can save yourself from burnout by setting boundaries.
Again, this is something we all know we should do, but so many of us don’t. We just find a way to make something happen even if it’s at the expense of our mental health. A business owner that makes a habit of doing this won’t be able to sustain a successful business. Be able to recognize burnout symptoms and embrace self-care.
Pay It Forward.
One of the best answers for how to find clients is simply to pay it forward. Kindness and generosity are not short-sighted acts. That doesn’t mean you should do everything for free. And it doesn’t mean you should always say yes. As I mentioned above, saying no is an incredibly powerful tool for your own sanity.
What I mean is showcase and promote your value in ways that potential clients can see and engage with. Share your knowledge through blog posts (or even guest posts on someone else’s blog), offer webinars, engage in LinkedIn groups, etc… all of this will help to reinforce you as an expert in your field.
And it makes it easy for the search engines to find you. Once people find you and see they can trust you, they’ll want to hire you. It really can be that simple.
I’m a huge fan of Facebook Ads, as I’ve been able to grow a number of brands through them. And while other social networking sites also allow you to run ads, my personal experience is that they tend to cost less and generate a great return on Facebook than they do on other sites (namely LinkedIn and Twitter).
I often will get B2B companies that don’t believe Facebook advertising will be beneficial to them and they want to focus on LinkedIn. At the end of the day, I always do what the client wants to do. However, I do like to point out that you can target certain zip codes, age ranges, relationship statuses, income-levels, job titles, buying behaviors, etc… I can even target those that like certain types of movies, TV shows, or print publications.
Facebook advertising may seem like a no-brainer for B2C companies. But it can also be quite powerful for B2B businesses as well. You can set a campaign type and a budget – and only pay for actions that potential customers take. It’s absolutely worth testing, and it will likely become a staple in your marketing efforts.
None of the above is going to spell overnight success. It will take time to build a successful business. Anyone that tells you otherwise is trying to sell you snake oil.
But while you’re waiting for success to come, you can start laying the groundwork for multiple avenues of client acquisition with these seven tips. I hope this helps you answer the question of how to find clients. And I also hope it gives you a handful of tools to do just that.
Emily Sprinkle, also known as Emma Loggins, is a designer, marketer, blogger, and speaker. She is the Editor-In-Chief for Women's Business Daily where she pulls from her experience as the CEO and Director of Strategy for Excite Creative Studios, where she specializes in web development, UI/UX design, social media marketing, and overall strategy for her clients.
Emily has also written for CNN, Autotrader, The Guardian, and is also the Editor-In-Chief for the geek lifestyle site FanBolt.com