When you are first launching your start-up, your to-do list is a mile long. After developing the business model and fine tuning your product or service, the most important item on your agenda is to build a customer base. That’s why you went into business in the first place, because you believe you have a valuable product that people need. They say you need to spend money to make money, but if you’re just starting out, your budget is likely to be small. Here are six tips to generate a customer base that don’t require a large pocketbook.
Talk to Everyone You Know
There is no better salesperson for your new business than the founder and owner, you. Talk to everyone you know about your product. This comes naturally when you are enthusiastic about your new business. The people you know are more invested in your success than anyone else you come across. Even if they are not interested or in need of your product at this time, they will be more inclined than strangers to spread the word about your new business to others that they know.
Practice Door to Door Sales
Talking to strangers can be intimidating for most everyone, but the ability to tackle these fears is a common trait among the best entrepreneurs. Going door to door is a tried and tested way to market your business on a shoestring budget. If you feel you lack the confidence or would like to learn the most effective ways to pitch your product, you may benefit from door to door sales training. This type of training can turn slamming doors into solid sales.
Serve in Your Community
Sit down and make a list of the different organizations and groups that you are already involved in. Add to your list local organizations that have a natural tie in to your business model. Your list might consist of a non-profit, church, gym community or hobby club, among others. Ask yourself what you have to offer that these groups would benefit from, then get out and serve these organizations. As you serve them, you create a mutualistic relationship between these communities and yourself.
Ask for Referrals
Every person you pitch your product to is linked to many other potential customers. Existing customer’s satisfaction in your product and in your customer service will be your most impressive sales tool. Ask these new customers to share with you who they know that would be interested in the product they are so pleased with. Those who do not purchase your product might not be the right fit, but they may know someone else who is. Don’t forget to ask for referrals from these contacts as well.
Network Like a Boss
Networking is putting value in the relationships you have around you. The effort you put into networking may yield some of the greatest results of all your marketing efforts. The more people you interact with, the more people who will remember your product. As you talk with other business owners and potential clients, keep your tone positive and helpful. Be vocal about your goals and you will be surprised at the opportunities that emerge out of the woodwork.
Give Out Freebies
Everyone loves to get something for free. There are two types of freebies you can offer to generate customers. The first is an advertising tool to obtain name recognition. Print your business name on cups, pencils, post-it note pads or other small, inexpensive daily items. Give these freebies out as you talk to everyone around you and network in your community. These potential customers will have a visual reminder of your business name. Second, be willing to give away your product or service for free, especially in the beginning. You will impress these customers with your goodwill and they will be more likely to spread the word if they feel you have done something nice for them.
Marketing your new business can be done on a start-up’s budget. Implement these six tips and you will be on your way to developing a substantial customer base.