The Lazy Business Owners Guide to Generating New Business

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Getting new customers is the most common subject I’m asked to give advice on for local businesses, even though I don’t think it’s as big a priority for many businesses as they think it is, but that’s a different article!

Because there are literally hundreds of things you could do to get more customers, I simply won’t accept the ‘we have tried everything’ defense. If you do need some inspiration, here are my five favourite strategies just to get you started:

And here’s the best bit! Most business owners are too lazy or too stuck in their ways to try this stuff which leaves you at a distinct advantage! Treat these strategies with a sense of urgency and get moving straight away because success breeds more success.

1) Fight like a guerilla not an army

The principle of guerilla warfare is to focus on a small target and attack with it with great intensity. The same is true of your market place. It’s much harder to attract new customers with a ‘we will sell to anyone’ strategy.

Focus on understanding a smaller niche market because you can establish their specific needs in detail and speak directly to their concerns.

One of my clients businesses has really started to move forward since they noticed that they were particularly good at servicing the hotel industry. They used their established credentials with a couple of the major chains to open doors all over the industry.

Action – Establish which type of customer dominates your customer base and design a campaign aimed specifically at their needs.

2) It’s not what you know it’s who you know

If you wrote a list of all the people you know (previous customers, employees, ex colleagues, friends, family) I am guessing there’s a strong chance that they know potential customers for your business. It’s also worth seeing how much bigger you can make your network by getting out there and talking to more people – this is not difficult because you’ve been doing it all your life!

It’s also worth remembering the principle of six degrees of separation which suggests that you can be connected to anyone on the planet via a chain of, on average, six people. Who could you track down that could really get your business moving?

Action – Get your contacts database up-to-date and growing. Set a goal of speaking about your business to two of your existing contacts and two new contacts every day.

3) Be the expert

If you are any good at what you do then the chances are you have some information that could be helpful and valuable to your customer. By sharing what you know and helping your potential customers you establish yourself as an expert and someone to be listened to, and over time, you will establish trust – putting you in the hot seat when the sales opportunity arises.

Action – Get blogging, write white papers, tweet, produce newsletters and be a speaker whenever the opportunity arises. Also, build a database of all your prospects and make sure they regularly receive this interesting and useful marketing communication. A word of warning! Don’t try to sell anything in these communications. You will alienate and lose your readership (and your messages will end up in the bin or in the spam folder).

4) Let your biggest fans be your best salespeople

If you’re convinced that word of mouth is your strongest lead generation strategy then I have some disturbing news. You are wrong! I can say this with confidence because word of mouth is no more a marketing strategy than ‘hope’ is.

On the other hand a well thought through ACTIVE referrals scheme that encourages your customers to recommend you can be a quick and effective way of growing your customer base. Design a scheme that is fun, exciting and contains a ‘what’s in it for me’ for everyone involved.

Action – Come up with a referrals programme and try it out on your best customers, in fact why not get them to design it for you?

5) Get on the phone

The phone remains a devastatingly effective lead generation tool, particularly in conjunction with a well thought out e-shot or direct mail campaign. Success rates of these campaigns are typically between five and ten times more effective when followed up on the phone. Use a script checklist to make sure you don’t miss any important stuff out.

Action – Try a phone-mail-phone campaign with a targeted list of prospects. Call to confirm their details, send them something interesting and clever, then call to make the sale or appointment.

So why not give these five ideas a try or if you can’t be bothered why not pass this paper onto your nearest competitor! If you do give these ideas a go I would love to hear how you got on so please feedback the results.