I have been getting a lot of questions from friends and followers that have started their own business online, but are having difficulty getting clients. I know a there are a lot of difficulties starting a new business because you ultimately want to work with clients and get things going as quickly as possible. I have a successful marketing career and will be happy to share some insights on getting your first clients and how I usually deal with them. So, without further ado, let's begin.
The first thing you should ask yourself is, "When a client finds me what will he/she want to know?" I have to be well presented and leave no room for any sort of doubts. Here are things that you should add to your "Why Us?" section on your website:
· Your background and relevant data about your company …
· Partners, if any …
· Everybody's experience …
· Portfolio – this can be books you have written, recent/popular articles, interviews, etc. …
· Testimonials – if you are first starting out, ask your colleagues or people who have worked with you to give you a testimonial, say a few good words about you, an audio or video testimonial, rating, etc. …
· Anything else that should polish it up …
Not only do you need to have all the information ready, but presenting it in a way will have a first-rate impact; our target here is to hit (the prospect) hard on their first impression of you. So, what you can do is hire a seasoned designer who should be able to present everything either in a well-designed brochure (PDF) or perhaps something in flash animation. You can always keep it simple, as some people like that too. Then again, adding colors won't hurt.
Keep the most important page, that is the Contact Us, page easily findable on your website. Another tactic that I want to share is the lack of request-a-quote forms most businesses keep missing. I mean, they do have it present, but not where it should be. You need to have it on all pages of your website, in the sidebar preferably.
Sometimes ice breakers work really well, for example you can have a pop-up assistant (e.g., you can have yourself or hire a model to say some cool intro about your business) on your website, or even a pop-up chat box that greets your visitor by saying something like "Hi, I am Sweta Patel, the founder of GMT. Please feel free to browse my website. If you have any questions, I am only a click away." Or you can have live-support on your website that greets every visitor and invites them to chat.
Visually-appealing eye-candy designed into your website can do wonders for you. Our goal here is to introduce the business in a manner that the client would want to actually reply or contact us.
Now, think like a client. Keep this perspective in mind and visit your own web page. Ask yourself, "If I am looking for a service provider, what would convince me in filling in that request-a-quote form?" Maybe I don't look too friendly to do business with? Or, maybe I need a layout buff or add some more information. Rinse and repeat. Visit some other corporate/high-end websites to see how they are getting it done. Take those ideas and make them better!
Let the word out
This is exactly how I did it, and so did many other businesses. I made a list of all the important people that were in my contacts and I approached them. I sent out emails, messages on social media and invited some of them over to have lunch with me. Not only that this is an extremely pleasant gesture, but also very significant in making a mark for yourself and your business. The best impact you can get is by meeting in person.
However, another important tactic to implement is referral marketing, that is you paying some percentage to those people who get you clients to do business with. Hey, who doesn’t like incentives?
Your target here is to make yourself known, that is, increasing your exposure and visibility online. There are countless ways of doing that. This is how I got my first few clients:
1. Initiate Email Marketing – Inform your contacts, add your website link in your outgoing signature even if it's a casual email.
2. Create a Presence on Major Social Platforms and Initiate Social Media Marketing – You can hire a professional to do that for you.
3. Content Marketing – Write some articles and associate your business address with the author (pen name) or bio. You can contact bloggers and write guest posts for them. It's simple, just search for "submit guest post," and similar in a search engine and benefit. If your content is on a popular website, people WILL eventually find out about your business.
4. Search Engine Optimization – Over 90% of people find information while searching online. Consider this a must-do for your business!
5. Advertising – If you have a decent budget, it can really pay off! Advertise on search engines for the phrases you think you cannot rank quickly or organically. Or, you can advertise on other websites, blogs, and forums.
Okay, so let's say a client contacts you. How can you convince the client in signing a contract with you? You do know the fact that you are just starting, or are in the initial phases of acquiring new clients, so don't quote something steep – price wise. This will most probably shoo off your potential client. Instead, what you would want to do is offer a test service.
I remember my first client. The project was big and I really wanted it. So, I offered the client to test my services for free and if he liked my work, he could pay me for the initial work and then sign a contract. I was pleased, so was the client. We are still working together.
Offering your services free of charge up front, or at a reasonably lower price from competition will not hurt your reputation, in fact, it will help build it. Once you get going, you can always have things your way! As they say, supply and demand. As demand for your services goes up, so does your rate. Oh, what a great way to get a pay raise – when you're overwhelmed with clients!Share on Facebook