9 ways to find new customers today
Updated: Jun 5
Demonstrate your expertize on digital platforms
When you are starting out in your own business or making your first steps as a sales professional, it might seem daunting to approach strangers and ask them to buy your product.
Selling is often seen as a complicated art form for the go-getter type, and certainly not for everyone.
Well, it doesn’t have to be that way.
There are some tried and true tactics everybody can use to get their first customers and to bring those long-awaited first sales into your business.
Here are some easy ways that will get you customers, which you can implement into your business today:
1. Find new customers by using your network
Even if you are totally at the beginning of your venture, you already have an established network of people you know from your life so far.
A common mistake many salespeople or first-time entrepreneurs now make is to try to sell to their friends and family whatever their product is.
Even if you succeed and some of them will buy because they like you as a person or want to support you - this will not get your company or sales off the ground.
The trick of using your network correctly to get customers is not to sell to them, but to use their contacts and their networks as your leverage.
You might not personally know someone who fits your customer profile, but maybe your friends do.
Just explain to them what you are doing, what product or service it is, and kindly ask for the favor of a referral.
It is about tapping into other people’s networks and thereby expanding your own network.
You personally might know maybe a few hundred people from your life so far.
It will be a very rare instance that many perfect customers for your business might be among them.
But if you also use the network of those people in your network, the number quickly multiplies to a few thousand potential customers. Thus the chances to finding the first customers in this circle multiply as well.
Out of a few thousand, the chances are very high to find a few of them who can really help you where to start, or who might be interested in your product right away.
Just ask around who your friends might know in the industry you want to get started on, or who they could refer for the product or service that you offer.
Done right, this is free exposure for getting customers with a personal referral.
Usually, this will be the lowest-hanging fruit you can have.
2. Define your ideal customer profile
Even if you are so convinced that your product is superior to everything else out there and that just everybody has to own it right now, be aware that not everyone might share your enthusiasm.
One product can’t be right for everyone, it is that simple.
If your product is for everyone, it also has to be so general that it is ultimately attractive to no one.
The one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work very well in business, and usually, such products often become a failure because there is no clear target audience defined.
Despite being ultra-motivated to sell your brilliant product and wanting to tell the whole world about it, it is time to take a step back.
Analyze your offering and its real facts and benefits for a moment.
Who can really use it?
Who can benefit from it?
Whose life or situation could be improved with it?
Define who are the people that can benefit the most from it.
Once you have a clear picture of who these people are, it is time to dig a little deeper.
Who are they exactly?
What are their interests/hobbies, etc.?
What kind of industry do they work in?
What are their favorite sports teams?
Find common ground or anything that can link these people together.
Maybe they all share a similar profession, all drive pickup trucks, or all like to take vacations in beach resorts.
The more similarities you can find, the easier it will be to target that audience.
A broader audience will mean higher ad costs.
Higher ad costs mean more upfront investment to get your first customers.
Thus always define at the beginning of your venture who your ideal customer is.
Find as much information about them as you can, and then find a way to sell and market directly to that group based on that information.
The narrower your focus, the easier it will be to target the right audience and the more profit will be left for you.
Nowadays you have a large selection of smart and highly-advanced marketing tools at your disposal that can help you find exactly that customer in a very short time.
Make good use of them.
3. Form partnerships with existing businesses
Another great way to find new customers.
One of the easiest, most profitable, and yet often overlooked opportunities in business is to use the leverage of other businesses with strategic partnerships.
Mark Joyner has written an entire book in it called Integration Marketing, which I highly recommend reading to really understand this strategy.
Every existing business already has established a position in the market.
They have a certain customer base, data on their customers, and know how to reach them.
This data is a highly specialized list of a group of potential customers which you could use in a partnership.
If you offer a mutually beneficial deal to them, you can get access to these highly targeted audiences.
The trick to getting these partnerships really working and mutually profitable is by partnering with businesses that are not directly competing, but are in the same market as you are.
Audiences have to be similar but not competitive.
A shop for luxury foods and spirits such as Caviar, Champaign, Russian Vodka and alike could start a partnership with a luxury car dealer in their area.
How about getting a free gift box with luxury cheeses and wines with your new Bentley?
The price for the gift box can easily be calculated into the margins of the car.
Alternatively, the luxury food business could sell these gift boxes to the car dealer for only a small price to cover the costs - and thus get free exposure to their audience!
The value provided by the car dealership is increased, and the luxury food shop gets a free promotion with the right target audience.
Another option would be to partner with a jewelry store in town.
How about a gourmet food box with every new rolex?
The same could work with a designer-fashion boutique.
Or maybe there is a high-class yacht club near your business?
If not, how about a golf-club or rotary club?
And why not partner with the Michelin-star restaurant in your city as well?
All of these businesses have a clearly defined customer profile.
Their clients are highly-targeted members of a certain group and share a similar lifestyle.
None of these products is in any form of competition with each other!
A car does not compete with fine food, jewelry, or with a yacht.
Yet all these products can be sold to the same group of customers.
All of these businesses have individually gathered lists of customers throughout the years.
If they put together a bundle or special package of these products as an offer they can multiply their existing customer bases!
Best of all:
If both sides work together, the customer acquisition costs will be zero!
However, it might take some time to really find the right business to partner with.
Not all deals will work out right away.
Some will happily watch you advertise their product without advertising yours.
Sometimes the chemistry between owners just isn’t right, just like in all areas of life.
If you knock on enough doors, you will definitely find the right business to partner with.
So get out there, and find businesses that offer products to the same customer groups in your area.
4. The old reliable: cold-calling
Maybe it is not what some of you would like to hear, but yes cold-calling actually is still a valid technique to get new customers.
All you need to do to get it working in your favor is to accept and use some of the facts about cold calls.
First of all:
Every call you make will be an interruption to the other person.
This means they are busy and want to get on with their day, and then you call.
It interrupts their activities at whatever they were doing at that moment.
The person will want to continue with their routine and will probably try to get rid of you at first.
They don’t know you, they don’t know what this call is about.
So at this stage of the sale, why should they care?
Making cold calls will be a numbers game.
This means for every 100 calls you make you will get x number of new prospects.
These ratios always apply, and the better your pitch and your product, the better your numbers will be.
To understand this principle better, check out our article on The Law of large numbers in Sales.
Knowing these facts, you can now craft a pitch and story that is so enticing and beneficial to the customer that they will want to know more.
Usually, this works very well if you just announce a big promise such as “cutting costs 30%” to grab attention and then go on to explain it personally in an appointment rather than on the phone.
When cold-calling, remember:
Never, ever sell on the phone!
The call is there just to achieve one goal only:
Getting an appointment or gather further information.
And during the appointment, you go on to qualify the prospect, see if he or she fits your products, and see how you can proceed from there.
To better understand how you qualify prospects, check out our guide on What customers want.
5. Offer special promotions for new customers
This is one of the most commonly used ways to find new customers.
New brands or products often need a little help to get off the ground.
As long as no one knows what your product does, nobody will know how good it is.
Regardless of how great your features and benefits will be.
Thus it can help to give people a little incentive to purchase a product for the first time, to try it and see for themselves how good it is.
This tactic is particularly often used in retail environments where new products get introduced quite frequently and the margins are made with repeat purchases.
But even if you rely on selling your product only once, such as industrial supplies, it can help to offer a special deal when you are looking for new customers.
A new product also always includes a particular risk for the customer since he might be the first one to use it.
Not many others have used it before, there might be flaws still integrated into the product.
As an exchange for this risk of being a newer customer and buying a rather untested product, you might offer a special discount which lasts only for the first 100 orders, or only until next week.
Such promotions usually work well if you enhance them with additional scarcity and validity for a certain time only.
For instance, customers can get the first 100 items with 50% off.
Or the product comes with free shipping only until midnight.
Today's marketing solutions also allow you to track who landed on your homepage through this offer and did not buy for example.
You can then proceed to start a remarketing campaign targeting exactly those who abandoned the purchase at the last minute, with usually much higher ROI than with comparable marketing activities.
This will help you to make additional profit from your special promotions.
6. Contact your former customers
This is one of the easiest ways to find new customers.
Every business has lists of former customers who once bought their product, but maybe went with another provider in the future or just found someone else offering something similar.
Only in very rare cases, the end of the business relationship was really the result of a catastrophic complaint or court settlement.
Studies have shown that it is 10x easier to get a customer who once bought from you to buy again than it is to acquire a completely new customer.
This means if you have been around for a while, and also some people do not use your product or service anymore there might be a huge potential left untapped waiting for you to use it.
Ideally, you might create a regular schedule out of this tactic.
This could mean that once a year you take the time to see which of the customers has left you and then create an offer that might bring them back to you again.
This should be combined with an incentive such as a special deal for those who abandoned your services to reconsider you as their main supplier again.
If you put such an incentive in a clever presentation that is made attractive to former customers, you will have a good chance of getting some of them back to your business with again zero acquisition costs.
Even if they do not come back to become customers again, they might have valuable feedback for you.
Ask what exactly caused them to leave, and learn how to make things better the next time.
If you just take the time to do it, this tactic will provide you with helpful insights no matter what.
7. Demonstrate your expertise on digital platforms
Particularly in service industries people often look for a specific kind of knowledge.
For example, a tax consultant is hired to save taxes - pretty simple.
Now smart folks who are looking to grow their client base with their tax services could demonstrate certain problems business owners have with taxes and how to solve them in the form of a Youtube video for example.
Actually, there are many examples of lawyers, accountants, and other professionals who made short Youtube videos or other social media activities of themselves, demonstrating how they can solve some of their client’s problems.
These postings do several things for you:
You are exposed to an audience who otherwise would not have heard of you
You can demonstrate you are really a professional in what you do
You can provide real value
You trigger reciprocity from your audience by delivering upfront
You can build a following
You can position yourself as the go-to expert in your field
Some argue you must be crazy to give out your hard-earned expertise for free.
In the digital age, hiding what you know is no longer a smart thing to do.
Instead, you get paid for delivering on what you know and attracting attention to your services by providing information upfront.
Spreading knowledge will get you attention.
The money later comes through implementation for clients.
What might have been foolish merely 20 years ago, is now one of the best ways to find new clients.
All you need is your expertise and some time to put together a posting.
In these postings, you can solve common questions on the topic, or explain cases you have had with customers in the past.
From all the social media channels available, select the one where your target audience will gather the most and then create a strategy to deliver to them constantly.
Also, make sure you select the right social media channel to start with.
Be careful as social media can take up lots of your time and also consider how much work will be dedicated to creating these postings.
Youtube has become a go-to channel for spreading knowledge because a good video can also be found years later, while Instagram postings for example only have a lifespan of 24 hours until they never show up in the algorithm again.
However, social media is moving so fast that it would be futile to give clear advice here on where to go.
Select the channel that suits you and your business best, and then deliver to your audience.
8. Use public speaking
Again a way where you can demonstrate your expertise in an area and at the same time market your business.
Speaking gigs also create a buzz around you as a person, and not just your product offering. It is thereby an additional benefit for your future career.
For those who are terrified of public speaking, you can also demonstrate your expertise through a webinar or workshop.
These options also allow you to get started with just a very small number of people, to help you get comfortable with speaking in front of others in general.
There are congresses and fairs, and nowadays also online events for all kinds of topics.
In many cases, the organizers are eagerly looking for ways to fill their agendas and many well-known speakers often are expensive to book.
Thus if you as a hands-on expert from an industry offer to speak for free about a topic that fits their agendas, you are creating a win-win for both sides.
You get to promote your know-how and business in front of a new audience, and they in turn can offer another good speaker for their event.
It is a win-win scenario whereby you can become an expert in your field and gain free exposure for your business or product.
9. Bring-a-friend programs
One of the strongest marketing forces is the concept of virality.
In essence, it is about multiplying your current sales, customer base, etc.
Let's say 10.000 customers today.
If every one of your current customers happens to know only one additional person that could also benefit from your products and services, this would double your customer base overnight!
In theory, this is the strongest advertising concept you can ever have.
And best of all: you did spend ZERO to attract these customers!
All you need is the right referral program and a clever incentive behind it.
Of course, it does not work 100% of the time in practice, but still bringing a friend can result in a massive bounce in your sales for actually no cost.
The better the relationship with your clients, the higher also the chance of being referred to their friends.
Keep in mind, however, that by referring a friend your clients will put their personal reputation at stake for you.
This is a huge favor actually, and you, therefore, have to make sure you really deliver on what you promise to do.
To get people over the edge and tell their friends about your company, it will be much easier if you use some incentive again to get them motivated.
For example, if they bring a friend, they get additional discounts or other value-adding benefits for them.
Look for something you can give away for free that would make the use of their existing product more worthwhile or gives some other form of clear benefit. Keep in mind that your incentive has the purpose to get people moving, so it should really be something that is strong enough to motivate.