Do you find yourself wishing you had more customers? Who doesn’t! It’s time to take an honest look at whether you’re doing everything you can to take advantage of the vast resource right at your fingertips – the Internet.
Here’s four ways to tap into the power of the Web to attract new customers.
1. Create original content in places where prospects hang out
You’ve heard that people do business with those they know, like and trust. When prospective customers see you posting repeatedly about a particular topic – even if they don’t click to read all of your work – they come to rely on you as an expert.
People are online all day seeking solutions to problems and ways to improve their personal or professional performance (a LinkedIn study found that 49% of small-to-medium sized businesses use social media for learning). When their need intersects with solutions you provide, you can make a lasting and profitable connection.
2. Research prospective new customers
Before you even think about making your next cold call, or walking into a first meeting with a prospect, go online and read everything you can find about the company. Jill Konrath, author of SNAP Selling, points out that companies have likely already been online checking you out, and they expect the same. She recommends LinkedIn as a research tool, and lists five things to look for in prospective customer profiles:
- How their job performance is measured
- Opportunities for a personal connection
- Potential for a referral
- Things in common
- What's important to them now
3. Find the people and companies who need what you offer
If you don’t already have meetings or prospects lined up, use LinkedIn. With LinkedIn’s advanced search features (a Premium account unlocks even more), you can search for personal profiles or company pages that match the your ideal customer criteria.
For example, you can search for people with a particular job title within a given demographic group, region, or companies of a certain size (by number of employees). In both cases you can use keywords that match the qualities and characteristics of your ideal customer.
You can also find potential customers by monitoring conversations and commentary about topics relating to your business. Set up a monitoring tool like Google Alerts, Talkwalker, or Mention for people who are writing about or reviewing similar products or services as yours. You can also save a search in Twitter to watch for comments like “how do I…?” or “I need a …”
Before you reach out to any of these prospective customers, get in the right frame of mind. See this as the beginning of a relationship and an opportunity to help, rather than an aggressive sales pitch – otherwise your outreach could come across as obtrusive or even offensive.
4. Always look for ways to help and expand your network
Answer questions, share resources, and share content from people in your network (yes, even competitors). Ask for nothing in return, but make it easy for people to reciprocate or refer when they’re ready. Do this by:
- Keeping your profiles up to date
- Staying active online so people see and think of you often
- Communicating a unified message about your areas of expertise
- Providing links to your website and blog posts (the original content from #1)
If you don’t have as many customers as you would like, look no further than your mouse, keyboard or smartphone. With the tools and strategies discussed here, you find new customers online, and position yourself better so they can find you.