When it comes time to secure funding for your new business venture you will more than likely be asked ‘How are you going to secure your first customers’? You may have a strong business concept but unless you can answer this question your business is not going to succeed. It is easy to say that you will advertise your business but this is not answering the question. How will you tangibly secure those first customers? Consumers tend to stay with what they know and trust, and with your business being new, they may be reluctant to try what you have to offer. Outlined below are a few tips to help you secure your first customers and for more information on what to look at when starting your own business download our free eBook Introduction to starting your own business.
Target your Warm Market
When you first launch a new business, you’re likely to rely on word of mouth at first. You don’t have a huge advertising budget. And you just want to get people talking about your product or service. So it makes sense to start with the people you know. To identify who could be a potential customer start by making a list of all your contacts. View every connection you have as potential customer:
- Your family and friends and their friends
- People you went to school and college with
- Previous work connections
- Clubs and society’s you are a member of
When you start to make a list of all the people you know you will have a large list of potential customers to target. All of these people could become your first customers if you can convince them of the value of your product. The aim is to get them to spread the word. It’s all very well if your mother buys something, but is she going to tell your target market about how much she liked it? Look for product feedback from family and friends and ask them to be honest. This early feedback is invaluable to the success of the business.
Take a Personal Approach
When you’re contacting people about your product, using your personal connection is essential. They don’t want to receive a soulless email from someone they barely remember.
Send personalized letters to tell people about your new business. You can give them a discount or a free sample, for example. Later, you can follow up the initial communication with a phone call. Or you can start off by calling people for a catch-up.
Team Up with Other Businesses
It can be difficult to get people to pay attention to a new business they’ve never heard of. One of the ways you can legitimize your new venture is to team up with others. Try approaching other brands that can tie into your business and asking if you can promote each other. You could run a special offer together or include each other’s promo material in your deliveries. Just remember that there has to be something in it for them.
Get out and network in person, shake some hands. Look for events that you can attend in your area where you can make valuable connections. Any event that gives you an opportunity to make face to face connections is worth attending. When networking, it is important that you take the time to develop a relationship. It is not just about telling as many people about your product without listening to what they have to say. The most successful networkers build genuine relationships and give more than they receive. They don’t just look at what they can get but how they can also help someone else.
If you want people to trust you enough to become a customer, you have to know what you’re talking about. When you’re promoting your business, take the time to show your knowledge. Without a solid reputation, you should be able to demonstrate that you’re an expert in your field. You’ll quickly become known as someone who can be trusted and knows about both their product and industry inside and out.
Securing your first few customers might be easier than you think. Once you’ve done it, the ball will start rolling. But remember that you’ll need to start scaling up if you want to build momentum.