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Why Would a Customer Come to You?

Why Would a Customer Come to You?

Renee Weisman | SmallBizLink

Unless you are offering something patented and totally unique, you more than likely have competition. What makes a customer want to come to you as opposed to someone else? Whether you have 5, 100 or 1000 competitors, what brings the person to you the first time, especially if you are selling a service as opposed to a “thing”?

The single most important factor in getting business is your reputation.
Who knows you, who recommends you, and who these people know are crucially important. When customers are looking for a service, they ask others. People need to know you in order to recommend you, so you must network. You also need to target your market and use the internet but the more those businesses look like yours, the more important your reputation becomes. So how do you build your reputation?

The first and foremost principle is to offer a quality product or service.
You can build a bad reputation very quickly and in many cases it can never be undone, so offer quality, even if it means a lower margin at first. Be a positive experience for your customers to keep them coming back.

The second principle is to get your name out there.
Of course that means marketing and networking, especially if you are selling a service. Locally there are many avenues and if the majority of your business is local, start here. Join the chamber of commerce and other business networking groups. Have a ribbon cutting (aka- free publicity) with the chamber of commerce and participate in as many activities as you can manage that will help you meet prospective clients. Volunteer. Take a class. Teach a class. Offering a free seminar in your field, serving on a panel in your expertise, talking at a convention or local organization, or writing an article for the newspaper are inexpensive ways to get people to know you or your product. Perhaps you can even get your photo and an article included in the local paper when you do a newsworthy event.

Can you partner with another business that sells related products?
(For example if you are a photographer and you partner with a catering business, a store selling wedding gowns, or a DJ, you can get new leads and reciprocate. What other business might benefit from sales of your product or service or have the same customer set?).

Advertise wisely.
Newspaper ads can be costly but may reach the audience you need. A sign on your car or truck (and parking it in conspicuous spots) can be cost effective. Business cards left in appropriate locations or bookmarks can be a low cost handout. Monitor the response from the various methods you choose to better understand the return on the investment. Ask people how they learned about you.

Use the internet.
Get a website (you can get one for a minimal investment today). Post articles on smallbizlink with a link back to your website. Join LinkedIn and locate groups that might be interested in your product or service. Join then and contribute to news and discussions on the site. Link back to your website and ask people to do something when they land there such as sign up for a free newsletter or leave a comment or ask for more information. This expands your potential client base.

It takes time to build up your customers. Your marketing budget should grow as your profits grow but never stop networking.

Most career professional recognize the importance of networking to move forward in their career. As an entrepreneur it is even more critical. You never know when or where you might meet a potential client but it won’t happen while you sitting in your office or wait for the phone to ring.