So you have what you think is a solid business plan in place, you have the product or service you are going to offer, but before you can consider yourself successful, you need clients willing to pay for said products or services. How do you go about finding those clients?
The truth is that finding that first customer is often the hardest, but those first customers are usually the best and most loyal. If you can find that one person or company that is interested in what you have to offer, you’re in business! Here’s how you can find your very first customer:
1. Tap into your network
You have a large network of friends, family, former and current co-workers, and even acquaintances who could be that vital first customer. To get your business running, it may be a good idea to ask them if they’re interested.
Think about who could benefit from the product or service you are offering. Would anyone in your network be willing to try out your product or service even knowing that it’s not yet perfected? Is anyone in a position where they could help you reach a wider audience? Think about who in your network you can tap into, and reach out to them.
2. Look Around
As you go about your day, what kind of people do you interact with?
- People at the gym
- People at work (your day job)
- People at government offices
- People at the bank
- People on the bus/train/subway/plane
Think about all of these people that you are interacting with. Are any of them potential customers? Is there a way to convert these people that you meet or spend time with into paying clients?
In order to get people interested in what you have to sell/offer, they need to know that you are selling/offering something in the first place. How can you communicate that to them?
- Send out email marketing blasts
- Type up and send out press releases/news articles
- Start a Facebook page and share it with everyone
- Tweet about it from both your personal and company Twitter account
- Pick up the phone and make cold calls to people/companies that you know would be interested
It’s all about getting the word out, and, with time, the clients will come trickling in.
4. Demonstrate value
You have no clients to use as testimonials or referrals yet, so all you can do is prove that the product or service you are offering can provide value to your customers. How can you do that?
- Provide something that is needed/wanted
- Offer products/services at a competitive price
- Promote by offering a free sample of your product or service
- Prove that you are an expert in your field and establish your credibility
It’s all about making people believe that they are getting a quality product, even if you have not yet built up your brand. If you can demonstrate value to potential clients, you can get that first customer on what they believe they will get.
5. Consider partnerships
No one has heard of your brand before, but is there a larger brand or company you can partner with--at least in the short term? Partnerships can improve not only your visibility, but also your credibility. After all, if a larger name brand is willing to do business with you, it’s a sort of endorsement that will go a long way toward drawing in that first customer.
6. Be willing to stalk
Not literally, but figuratively. In order to get that first client, it’s going to take time and effort pursuing your hot leads. Continue to "pester" or chase the people who are most likely to try your product or service. You should still devote time and effort to cold calling and pitching, but hot leads are always the best!
Follow this advice, and you’ll be well on your way to getting that very first customer--and many, many more after that!
Got any advice on how to find your first customer? We’d love to hear from you, so leave a comment below…