10 Tips for Acquiring Your First Clients or Customers

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, only about half of businesses survive at least five years, and about one-third survive at least 10 years. Starting strong with a loyal customer base helps your business become one that survives, but getting your first client can be challenging. Try a variety of ways to expand your reach and build relationships to make the first sale and continue growing your customer base.


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1. Target your first client search

You’ll have better success getting new customers when you target your promotional efforts. Some people won’t buy your product or service no matter what you say or do because they’re not your target audience. Focusing on those people wastes your time and advertising money.


Be crystal clear on the ideal customers you’re trying to reach with your company. Consider what problems your product or service solves and who has that issue. For example, a meal prepping service solves the issue of not having the time or energy to cook healthy meals, which can benefit overwhelmed moms who want to feed their kids healthy food or busy professionals who care about their health. This helps you focus your marketing on those groups.


A customer journey map lets you visually represent your ideal customer. There are different ways to use a customer journey map, including a day in the life of your target customer to identify the things your ideal client does during the day. This helps you look for pain points and get inside the minds of your customers to target your marketing.


2. Research your audience

Learn more about your target customer with strategic research. Joining Facebook groups where your ideal customers hang out gives you insight into their pain points, and you can start building relationships in those groups by contributing to the conversation. Following influencers who are popular with your ideal clients can also give you clues about what they want.


Another option is asking directly. Create a survey or talk to people in your ideal demographic to get their opinions. You can also share details about your products and services to get feedback on them.


3. Offer value

A blatant sales pitch often turns away a potential customer. Instead of forcing your business on people, offer value wherever you go. Share your expert insight when you meet people in person. Create blog posts with industry information or helpful advice. Start a YouTube channel with informational videos. Putting value out into the world positions you as an expert and attracts potential clients to you.


4. Start with your network

Your current network, both personal and professional, gives you a starting point for finding that first client. List everyone you know who fits your target audience when you’re generating your prospects.


Start sharing about your business with everyone you know. Mention it without being a high-pressure salesperson. The people in your network might not be interested, but they might know someone who’d be an ideal client.


5. Grow an online presence

Another part of your customer acquisition process should include building a following online. Creating a business website lets potential clients know you run a legitimate business. With 85% of Americans owning a smartphone, having a responsive website is a must so potential clients can reach your content no matter what device they use. Create valuable content using SEO best practices to attract organic traffic to your website.


Social media platforms also let you reach clients quickly with an interactive format. Share valuable content on social media that educates or entertains followers. If you use social media only to sell your product, you’ll likely scare people away. Post regularly to keep followers engaged.


6. Engage on social media

It’s not enough to just put out quality content on your blog and social media platforms. Engaging with potential customers helps you build relationships that can eventually lead to sales.


Ways to engage on social media include:

  • Thanking people for sharing your content
  • Responding to all comments people leave
  • Commenting on other businesses’ social media posts
  • Engaging in conversations on various social media pages
  • Joining and actively participating in social media groups
  • Sharing posts to your page from other businesses or followers
  • Tagging relevant people or businesses in your posts

7. Start an email list

Having an email list of interested people lets you communicate directly to them. You can warm them up to get the sale gradually by using an email sales funnel. Email lists can be used to send informational content about your product or service and special deals that might tempt a potential client to buy.


8. Go to events

Look for vendor fairs, trade shows and similar events related to your industry. If your budget allows, rent a booth at the event to get potential customers to interact with you. Another option is simply attending the event and meeting as many people as possible while you’re there. This helps grow your network and could help you meet your first client.


9. Join forces with other entrepreneurs

Teaming up with other entrepreneurs can help you land your first client and build a stronger business network. One option is to partner with a related service provider for a package deal. A wedding photographer and wedding videographer might offer a joint package for couples, for example.


You can also swap referrals with another entrepreneur. This works best when you’re in similar fields that don’t compete with one another. A massage therapist and a chiropractor might refer one another to their clients.


If you’re selling a physical product, consider partnering with a business that has a brick-and-mortar location. Ask if you can set up a display of your products in the store in exchange for a portion of the sale price. You might ask a local restaurant to display your artwork that’s for sale, or a local gift store might display your photography prints or handmade crafts for sale.


10. Master customer service early

Getting your first client seems like the biggest challenge, but you need to keep that momentum to continue attracting new customers. Learning how to get client referrals can help you with that. Offering exceptional customer service to every customer starts you off with a positive reputation that can lead to more referrals. Create a referral program or ask clients to refer you to other people they know to continue growing.

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