How To Find New Customers and Value Your Existing Ones

It’s the question on every business owner’s mind – how do I find more customers to market to?

Before we delve into where to find new customers in your industry, you will first need to ensure that:

  1. You know what kind of customers you are looking for;
  2. Your search for new customers isn’t to the detriment of your existing customers; and
  3. You understand the importance of each and every one of your existing customers.

Defining your ideal customer

When identifying the perfect customer for your business, it’s important to define:

  1. Their location and whether location is important for your type of business (eg. For a construction business, it would be preferable that the customer is located close by so that they can pick up their order or it can be delivered to them cost-effectively);
  2. Their demographic and whether you’d like to target commercial or residential customers. If targeting commercial clients, are you after small, medium or large businesses? Or wholesalers? If you’re going for residential customers, what age groups and genders have the biggest demand for your services, and does their income level affect their capability to buy from you?

New versus existing customers

Seeking out new customers that are the right fit for your business can be very time-consuming and energy-sapping, not to mention possibly costly. On the odd occasion you may gain a full-service client from a cold call, but it is rare, and it’s hard slog to get to that point. What if you could get new customers without having to approach them yourself?

Never underestimate the importance of your existing and past customers. These people have already experienced your service, know the quality of your products, and are your ticket to growing your business through referrals. Let your biggest fans do the work for you.

What can you do with your existing customers to generate new business? In short, make sure they feel loved! Make sure they know how much you value their business and that your business runs on word-of-mouth referrals. Let them know that if they’re happy with the service and products they received from you, to tell their friends and family. It doesn’t have to cost you a cent. It may be as simple as a handwritten note posted via snail mail, or a phone call just to say hi – you want them to remember you, so that next time their friend is looking for construction services, they won’t hesitate to pass on your details.

You don’t have to toot your own horn, you’ve got someone (or hopefully lots of someones) out there doing it for you!

Where to source new leads

How you approach seeking out potential customers depends on the resources you are willing and able to commit. You may consider:

  • Trade shows, industry expos or markets;
  • Online business networks for your industry;
  • Industry networking events in your local area;
  • Compiling a mailing list from public email addresses listed in places like Yellow Pages and Gumtree; and
  • Social media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn.

A web search for scheduled trade shows and networking events in your area is a great starting point, and many of these events are free to attend.

Once you’ve got them, where will you put them and how will you interact with them?

Before you start a campaign, make sure you have a plan. Your plan should include:

  • What information you want to gather from them;
  • Where you are going to store this information; and
  • How you are going to use the information.

For example, if you are holding a stall at a trade show, you may have a mailing list signup form for all of the people that visit your stall. What information will you collect on this form? When you get back to the office, you may add this new list to your client database, or in their own group, so you can target communications directly to them.

With any customers and potential customers, it is important that they know that you value them.

Love makes the world go around, so apply this principle to your business too!