As a new or growing business it can be tricky to find new customers.
When you are just starting out you don’t have the luxury of accessing information, spreadsheets and data that can guide you to a science based approach.
In many ways, for a new business, acquiring customers is more of an art than a science. In many ways, a new business needs to get super creative and experimental when it comes to acquiring new customers.
Even though it is all very well and good to experiment and get creative with customer acquisition, you also need to consider the two big factors- time and money.
It can take a lot of time and money to experiment, and this may just be something that your business cannot afford to do.
If you are looking for fast and easy ways to gain new customers, then this article is the place to start.
We have come up with 10 awesome and powerful ways that you can acquire new customers fast and for free.
These tactics are designed to not only help you gain new customers, but to also develop a solid understanding of your business and the type of customer that you aiming to have in the long run.
In fact, one of the most challenging steps for any new business is finding the right customers.
While there are many customers out there, not all of them are created equal and by developing a solid understanding of your most ideal customer, it can do wonders for your business in the long run.
You can have 1000’s of customers, but if they are not your ideal customer than the chances of them sticking around is going to be very slim.
When you find your ideal customer however, not only do they stick around and become loyal fans, they also help to promote your business through word of mouth and through engaging on social media.
An ideal customer is far more valuable than just any random customer, and this is important to keep in mind for your long term strategy.
At the end of the day, happy customers= great business, so that should be your ultimate goal when it comes to acquiring any customer.
By keeping all of this in mind, it will help you to adopt some of these techniques for your own business.
So, if you are ready to score 100 new customers for your company in just a few short weeks or even months, here is how to go about it-
1.) Reach out to your existing network
The best way to start acquiring new customers is to reach out to contacts within your existing network. This includes reaching out to your friends and family, but it also involves reaching out to any other industry contacts you may have.
When it comes to reaching out to friends and family, let them know about your business and what you are offering. Ask them to keep you in mind if they hear of anyone who is looking for the type of products or services that you are offering.
You can also ask friends and family to join you on social media and to help boost initial engagement rates on all of your posts.
When reaching out to others in your industry, sending emails or just jumping on a quick call with them can also be effective. The trick with this is not trying to sell your products or services, but to instead make your focus gaining information and even leads.
When you reach out to your connections asking for help, they are more likely to reply and are more likely to put you in touch with any customers they may have.
To effectively communicate with your industry contacts, you need to let them know what you admire in them and then ask for advice or support.
Connect with the intention of learning and seeking help and you will find that people are far more likely to respond.
Here is an example template of an email that you can use to reach out to people in your network-
“Hi, Hope you are well! I am currently working on promoting / setting up my business, (“Business name”). I know you are great at (list the qualities that you are looking for support with ) and I was hoping I could chat with you briefly to ask a few questions? I just want to learn more about (list skills) and would really appreciate any suggestions you have. Thank you so much…”
2.) Don’t have your own market research? Use social media instead
One of the biggest downfalls for new businesses is that they don’t have data or research on how to acquire customers.
Unlike big companies that have been around for a while, newer and smaller companies have to develop new ways to find customers without research or statistics.
The good news is that thanks to social media, there is a lot of information and research out there which you can access at your finger tips. In fact, using social media is a fantastic way to gain market research.
Many startups and freshly formed businesses find success simply through paying attention to what people are saying on social platforms. This is hands down, one of the most effective methods to find new customers.
Here is how to gain market research from social media-
- Visit the accounts of brands in your industry, including your competitors. Start filtering through comments posted by their customers and see if you can notice any trends- are there any pain points that keep coming up? Are they leaving suggestions that you can tap into? Are they looking for something that you can help with?
- Start responding to customers directly over social media about any problems or difficulties they are having and how your product or service could help solve it. To find queries such as these, consider searching for common hashtags in your industry.
- Find popular threads on social media in your industry and join in the conversation; start getting your brand name out there so people recognise your company
- Use social media to reach out to your own customers and ask them for feedback, suggestions and comments. Engage with them and let them know that their opinion matters. Use their suggestions to help improve your products and services but also your marketing.
There are endless ways to research on social media and there is lots of information out there that you can access to help find customers.
3.) Take advantage of sites like Quora
Another great site to take advantage of is Quora. While this site is a great way to find information and conduct market research, it also a great way to grow your brand.
For those not familiar with the site, Quora is a platform where people post questions and receive answers. Think of it like the modern Yahoo Answers but with a more educated demographic (majority of Quora users are university educated).
Quora covers a wide range of topics and allows you insight into what people are thinking and feeling in your industry. By finding relevant questions and replying to them, you can also begin to establish your brand as an authority.
If you can go on a site like Quora and offer great feedback on questions specifically related to your industry, you are more likely to gain new customers.
This is an especially great technique if you run a software company or work in the tech and finance space, as many of the questions on Quora fit into this category.
4.) Create Customer Development Tools
Platforms like SurveyMonkey and Qualaroo are great tools for understanding your customers and audience, but they are also helpful for finding new customers.
Here is how to do it-
- Use a platform like Qualaroo to ask a cleverly crafted question. For example if you sell online fitness packages ask people coming to your site a question like-“Do you currently have a fitness routine?”
- Depending on what your visitor responds with, direct them to sign up to your email list. For example if they answered “No” direct them to a landing page where they can get a free fitness plan in exchange for their email.
By adopting this method, you can start targeting your most likely customers and reaching out to those who are actually in need of the services you are offering.
Basically, every email that comes in through this technique can be looked at as a qualified lead and you can begin marketing to them as such.
5.) Create an Email List with Incentives
Another great way to find customers is through your email list. Despite what you may have heard, email marketing is not dead. In fact, it is very well and truly alive.
To begin building your email list, you first need to come up with an appropriate lead magnet. Offering something for free like a report, ebook or template is one of the most effective ways to get people to sign up to your email list.
Once you have people subscribed to your list, you need to consistently send them value so they stay engaged with your brand and what you are offering.
A general rule of thumb is to add lots of value in the first few emails in order to get them hooked. After you have flooded them with value in the first 1-3 emails, you can then begin slowly introducing some of your products and services.
The most important thing to remember is to not get salesy with your emails. Instead treat them like exclusive offers that are only for your subscribers.
Here is an example of how to set up your email marketing flow-
- Step 1: Educate your audience on your industry, offer value by addressing common concerns experienced in your industry. This may take up to 3 emails to execute properly.
- Step 2: Now that you are an authority, begin describing your product and services. Explain to readers why you offer the products and services that you do and address any common questions, fears or concerns. This may take up to 2 emails to execute.
- Step 3: Launch your products and services and let your readers know what you are offering. Link them to your sales page but don’t push it.
- Step 4: Begin educating your customers again, reinforce your knowledge and keep adding value. Perhaps talk about how your product/services have helped others and share testimonials.
- Step 5: This is the hard sell, this is where you persuade readers to act now and get them to purchase. Give them a time limit and create a sense of exclusiveness around the offer.
This basic format will of course, have to be tailored to your business, but it is a great guideline to use when creating your email workflow.
6.) Leverage Other Brand Names
One of the best and sneakiest ways to find new customers is to use the power of already established brands, including your competitors.
Reach out these brands by suggesting ways to collaborate and exchange resources or information. This may be doing an interview on their podcast or writing an article for their blog or publication.
To get on top publications like Huffington Post and Forbes for example, reach out to their contributors and see if you can pitch them on a story idea or article.
When you find ways to collaborate with those who have already established a brand in your field, it allows you to piggy back off the trust and respect that already surrounds them.
Another way that you can leverage other platforms is by running a Kickstarter campaign. Kickstarter is a well known brand, so if you have backing from their supporters, it can go a long way in helping to develop trust between you and your consumers.
7.) Guest Post on Other Blogs
Guest posting on other blogs is a great way to expand the reach of your business and to find new customers. Reach out to blogs that are aligned with your products and services, and see if you can publish on their site.
A good rule of thumb with this is to choose sites that have a strong following on social media and have a dedicated/active following. There is no point reaching out to blogs that are smaller than your own, as this is not going to help to grow your customer base quickly.
Another advantage of writing a guest post is creating backlinks. This can help to optimise your SEO, which in turn can help your customers to find you more easily.
When choosing the perfect topic to write about, think about your ideal customers and what information they would find most valuable. Be sure to showcase your knowledge and offer advice that is different or more detailed than what is already out there.
Guest posting is a great way to reach new customers but it can take time. According to Leo Widrich, the co-founder of Buffer it took him 150 guests posts written over 9 months to start gaining traction.
In time however, guest posting can pay off in a big way and can help your products and services to get the exposure they deserve.
8.) Optimise your SEO
Organic search engine traffic is hands down one of the best and most effective ways to find new customers.
The problem with search engine ranking however, is that it is become harder and harder to rank for specific search terms, especially in highly competitive industries.
This is especially true if you are in the marketing or technology space as there are so many big players out there who are well and truly dominating the field.
The good news is that there are some techniques that you can use to help boost your ranking.
You can read more about SEO here, but here are a few simple and free suggestions to help you get started-
- Focus on long tail keywords as these have less competition
- Create a blog to help improve SEO, be sure to include your long tail keywords in your blog posts
- Write long form blog posts as this has been proven to help boost SEO
- Download a free plugin like YoastSEO to help you manage your SEO on your WordPress site
- Find ways to get people spending more time on your site by showcasing videos and other interactive tools
- Include keywords in your sales copy
9.) Cold E-Mail/Call/Social Messenger
One of the simplest ways to find new customers is to simply email them. It may feel like a stab in the dark to begin with, but this technique is proven to work.
If email addresses are hard to find, turn to social media. Today you can pretty much send a personal message to any social media account out there from LinkedIn to Facebook. Find people who seem qualified and send them a friendly message.
9 times out of 10 you may not get a response, but you may just get lucky with that one reply.
To improve your chances of receiving a reply, aim to reach out to appropriate customers that seem interested in your products and services and offer something of value.
Here is an example of a cold email template for a B2B company that generated over 16 new customers and had an open rate of 57 percent and a response rate of 21 percent-
Headline: 10x (prospect company’s) Traction in 10 Minutes
“Hello (first name), I have an idea that I can explain in 10 minutes that can get (company) its next 100 customers. I recently used this idea to help our client (insert name) almost triple their monthly run rate. (First Name), let’s schedule a quick 10 minute call so I can share the idea with you, When works best for you?”
You can of course use this template to suit the needs of your brand, but here are a few things to keep in mind –
- Have an enticing subject line
- Offer something of value
- Use social proof to build credibility
- Include a strong call to action
10.) Offer Referral Discounts
Another way to gain new customers is to offer referral codes to existing customers. By enticing customers to get their friends and family to make a purchase in exchange for a discount, you stand to gain a whole slew of customers.
When people are satisfied with your products and services, they are more likely to suggest your brand to their friends and even more likely to do so when you offer an incentive.
A great way to do this is to offer discounts or credits for everyone that they get to sign up to your products or services.
This technique is used by many startups, including Uber and Lyft, and it has definitely contributed to the rapid growth of these brands.
The added benefit of offering customers referral discounts or credits is that it also allows you to reward your loyal customers.
When your customers feel rewarded and cared for, they are also more likely to purchase from you again and become life long patrons.
These 10 free techniques will help you to grow your customer list in no time. If you want results quickly, we recommend trying every single technique on this list and then slowing eliminating the ones that are not as effective for your brand.
Here is a summary of the 10 ways to find new customers without spending a cent-
- Reach out to your existing network and ask them for specific help and guidance- let them know what you need
- Use social media for free market research and to understand more about your customers
- Use tools like Quora to begin establishing your authority as a brand
- Utilise customer development tools like surveys etc., in order to better understand and market to your visitors
- Create an email list by offering a free incentive. Offer value to your email subscribers while slowly introducing your products and services
- Leverage top brands by finding a way to affiliate or collaborate with them
- Guest post on other blogs and similar websites in order to enhance your credibility and SEO
- Use best practices when it comes to search engine optimisation
- Cold message people using email and social messenger platforms found on Facebook, Instagram etc.
- Offer referral discounts and promotions to your existing customers in order to entice them to reach out to their family and friends