What To Do When You Can’t Find Customers

November 7, 2008

Is it a struggle to find customers for your new business venture? Lots of new business owners find it difficult to get their first customers. I know, because I’ve been there myself. And I get heaps of emails asking for advice every week.

Now, I could charge an hourly rate to help you get your first customers but chances are, you’re bootstrapping your new business. And you need every penny you have to invest in marketing it.

Also, you’re probably looking for a quick fix for your customer shortage problems, so you don’t have time to study on a course for several weeks, to find the answers to your problems.

So, I’ve put together these band aid solutions to help you find new customers fast. Some will apply to your business and some won’t. But I can promise you that they all work, if you do it right.

Problem: You Have Few Potential Customers Visiting Your Website.

Solution: Start a pay per click campaign.

Optimizing your site to get a decent amount of search engine traffic is a good long terms solution. But it isn’t going to bring you immediate results. So, if your budget allows, consider starting a pay per click campaign with Google Adwords, to drive customers to your website. If you don’t have a clue how to run a pay per click campaign, I highly recommend grabbing a copy of Definitive Adwords now.

I tried pay per click before reading Definitive Adwords and I lost a whole heap of money because I was doing it all wrong.

Problem: You Have An Online Service Business & You Can’t Find New Customers.

Solution: It Might Be Faster To Find Your First Customers Offline.

If you have an online service business, you may be able to find your first customers faster off-line. And if you’ve done your research, you should have a good idea where to find those customers. So now you just need to do as many things as possible to get yourself in front of them. Here’s a few suggestions:

You could write to potential customers to explain how your service can benefit them and follow up with a call to make an appointment to see them. Or you could cold call - by telephone, or knocking on their door.

Also, consider having some leaflets made and drop them by hand to prospective customers - if you choose this option, drop at least three leaflets to the same potential customers over a few days. You’ll find you get better results that way, unless your leaflet really sucks.

And don’t forget to speak to anyone you know who may have the same customer base as you and ask for referrals.

Problem: You Offer An Expensive Online Service & You Can’t Find New Customers.

Solution: Offer A Cheaper Product Or Service First.

If your business is new and you only offer an expensive service, you’ll struggle to find customers fast. Most folk have no problem buying a cheap item the first time they visit a new site but few are likely to purchase anything expensive, before they know and trust you.

Consider offering a cheaper product or service first. That will help to get some cash in and it’s a good way of adding new customers to your mailing list. If you don’t already have a product or service you can offer, consider writing an ebook that will appeal to potential customers. I know an ebook doesn’t sound like much of a quick fix but the 7 Day Ebook shows you how to write one within a week.

Problem: You’re Getting Plenty Of Visitors To Your Website But Nobody Is Buying

Solution: Plug The Holes in Your Sales Process

Is your site easy to navigate, or would a potential customer need to click several times just to find out what you are selling? Pretend you’re a customer yourself and try navigating your way round your website.

Or perhaps your sales copy sucks. Did you write it yourself? Do you know much about copywriting? If not, you’re probably losing customers through crappy copy. You could always hire a professional copywriter.

And if you’re not sure what is stopping customers buying from you, or your sales process has more holes than a string vest, you might want to check out these excellent traffic conversion DVD’s.

Have you struggled to find customers? Did any of these answers help, or do you have another problem that I didn’t mention?

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10 Responses to “What To Do When You Can’t Find Customers”

  1. Marelisa on November 7th, 2008 10:02 pm

    Hi Cath: These are all good suggestions. I would just add that you could offer them something for free so that they can try out your product or service before buying. For example, there is new software that can be downloaded free for 14 days, membership sites that can be accessed for free the first 14 days, authors have the first chapter of their book on their site which can be downloaded for free, companies offer small free samples of their product,and so on.

    Marelisa’s last blog post..The Secret of Unbridled Creativity

  2. John Hoff - eVentureBiz on November 8th, 2008 4:05 am

    I found that 7Day eBook a great book and even if you’re not thinking of writing an eBook it gives some great marketing advice.

    Another thing to consider is who you’re selling to. Like Seth Godin says, you should only sell to one customer . . . THE customer with influence.

    @ Marelisa - that’s a great suggestion, Avon knows that all too well.

    John Hoff - eVentureBiz’s last blog post..30.1 Web Tools For Online Success And To Make Your Life Easier At The Same Time

  3. Cath Lawson on November 8th, 2008 1:48 pm

    Hi Mare - the free trial is a brilliant idea. When the trial period is up, few people will want to cancel if they enjoy your product.

    Hi John - I like 7 day ebook too. Selling to the customers who influences others first is a good idea if you know where they are. I guess it would depend on what you’re selling too.. It would definitely bring sales faster.

    Cath Lawson’s last blog post..What To Do When You Can’t Find Customers

  4. Jannie on November 8th, 2008 10:46 pm

    I agree on the Google pay-per-click-ads, especially if the advertizer is not selling online but hopes to get local business, he or she can set the ads to run in the area where he or she lives, certainly narrows down the local competition.

    Jannie’s last blog post..Sometimes in dreams

  5. cathlawson on November 9th, 2008 1:18 am

    Hi Jannie - Pay per click can be pretty good for local areas. As you say, there’s going to be less competition locally. So you have a great chance to be your ad listed near the top at a low cost.

  6. Ricardo Bueno on November 10th, 2008 8:06 am

    I really resonate with your point about meeting some of your first customers off-line. Being on-line shouldn’t be an excuse to eliminate all of the off-line networking that took place before we got online.

    When I’m participating in social networks like Twitter, I’m constantly on the lookout for opportunities to meet my contacts off-line (at a local tweetup). I’m adamant about the opportunity to meet in person because it really solidifies the relationship. That means it’s easier for the other person to learn more about what you do and it’s easier for that person to connect you with other individuals that might benefit from what you do. Sure it all sounds like a process, but it’s a very effective process that leads to great word-of-mouth.

    The other thing that works really well is offering a cheaper product first or giving a piece of it away for free. But let people know up front what your intention is and I they’ll respect you a whole lot for that!

    Ricardo Bueno’s last blog post..Why We Participate In Social Networks

  7. cathlawson on November 10th, 2008 8:36 am

    Hi Ricardo - I’ve just learned something new. I didn’t know there was such a thing as a local tweetup. I’ll have to check if there’s any where I live. I’m betting it does make it far easier to connect with folk when you’ve met the offline.

    I like your idea of giving part of your product away free. I noticed a lot of folk do free trials now and that seems to work well. If you have a good enough product or service folk won’t want to give it up.

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