Acquiring customers is often times the hardest part for a new business. In competitive industries, it may seem near impossible. Having a pre-existing customer base will help, but you might be starting from scratch.

To find their first customers, new business owners usually rely on salesmanship skills or innovation. We aren’t all top-notch salesman, and you can’t always force innovation. So what else can you do to gain traction?

1. Carve a Deeper Niche

No matter what business you’re in, there’s a niche to describe it. Right now, it’s at the broadest level. If you’re a new mortgage loan broker, you’re in finance. If you’re starting a website that sells auto parts, you’re in eCommerce.

The market is massive when you define your business this way, but that also means you’ll get buried among the competition. Why should they come to you instead of the other guy? Remember, you’re not a salesman and you don’t have the capital required to innovate yet.

Instead of defining your business in a broad category, you should aim for something more specific. A mortgage broker that deals with commercial real estate is a good example. Or you could go even deeper. How about a mortgage broker that only deals with 10+ unit apartment complexes?

2. Become the Expert

The biggest thing that you may notice is that you are shrinking your potential customer base. That’s true, but you are also eliminating potential competitors. But most importantly, focusing your efforts in a very specific niche will give you experience. This is the valuable experience that positions you as the expert.

When you become the expert in your very specific niche, the customers will begin to come to you for help. They’ll know that you have the knowledge and skills to solve their specific problem. Your potential customer base will be much smaller, but you’ll stand a better chance at acquiring them.

3. Market Your Expertise

Marketing your expertise is the fastest way to turn on the faucet of organic customers. You can begin to do this by building a strong personal brand around your name. Make it easy for someone to find you. But more importantly, make it easy for someone to remember you.

You’ll have to create more opportunities for your name to be remembered though. You can start to do that by engaging and contributing your potential customers in an educational manner. Fortunately, it couldn’t be easier to do this with today’s internet. Industry groups, forums, and blogs can provide great exposure to the right people.

4. Gain Their Trust, Too

Trust is a key component in business, and especially so if you’re going to be an expert. You’ll have to be sure to keep it educational, rather than promotional. Most will tell you they don’t trust a salesman. So avoid trying to sell if you want to gain their trust.

Try to answer their questions or solve their problems. You should want a potential customer to succeed because of a piece of knowledge you provided them. When they do, they’ll trust you. When the time comes for them to need your services, they will come to you themselves. Your personal branding allows customers to remember who you are, and trust is what makes them choose you.

5. Apply This Knowledge

This technique can be applied to virtually any industry or vertical. A good way to determine what your expertise will be is to look at your past. Do you have any prior experience in a field that could use your help? Any outside knowledge may help you see things from your customer’s perspective. That will help you in your quest to position your business as a frontrunner, and ultimately, to your success.

Author: Roger Grinnell is the founder of EquipMyFinance.com where he helps owner-operators and small trucking companies finance trucks, factor their invoices, and obtain working capital.

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