So you’ve created your very first business but you’re struggling to find customers?
It’s a really common problem.
Don’t worry though; there are hundreds of marketing channels out there that will drive customers straight to your door!
If you’re on a budget (like lots of new businesses are) then you’ll be hoping to generate some business with little or no cost.
Well I suggest that this is entirely possible. There’s this business mantra that it ‘takes money to make money’. Maybe if you’re thinking about the longer term scalability of your business, yes, but when the business is in its infancy, you can achieve great things on tiny budgets!
So, how do you find new customers that are likely to be attracted to your product or service without spending any cash?
1. Twitter Chats
I’m hoping that many of you will have already been involved in a Twitter chat.
Twitter chats are simply conversations that take place on Twitter between groups of users who are all interested in the same topic.
Anybody wanting to get involved in a Twitter chat will simply include a #hashtag in any Tweets they send which contribute to the chat.
Now this sounds incredibly simple … but the power of Twitter chats is the focused nature of the discussions.
It can be difficult on Twitter to reach through all the background noise and really target the people you’re trying to reach. Chats help you target a specific group of userswithout paying for sponsored tweets!
How do I find Twitter chats?
Here are a number of resources that will help you out:
- Tweetchat Wiki – This wiki lists a huge number of chats, sorted by day of the week. You can also search by subject to find Tweets relating to your industry.
- Tweetreports Twitter Chat Schedule – Some of the chats listed here may be duplicated from the above Wiki, but it’s always nice to know you’re covering every base.
- @TheChatDiary / The Chat Diary – Another big database of chats, it’s a great twitter account to follow as they’re always interacting with other twitter chat accounts so you’ll be able to find even more Twitter accounts through the hashtags they’re using in their timeline.
How do I participate in a Twitter chat?
One of the easiest ways to follow a twitter chat is to use Tweetchat.com.
Simply sign in with your Twitter account and enter the hashtag you want to follow. Then you’ll be able to focus just on the tweets relating to that chat!
You’ll also have all the standard Twitter controls so it’s really simple to use.
The way to really take advantage of these chats is to be involved. Retweet other’s tweets, reply to people who tweet you, thank new followers and follow other Tweeps – everything you would normally do to engage on Twitter! The more engaged with the chat you are, the more success you’ll see!
2. Google+ Communities
Here’s to hoping that you’ve already created a Google+ profile and page.
Without them, you’re missing a major opportunity. Don’t listen to people when they say Google+ is a ghost town … It’s not. There’s lots of engagement going on and, in my opinion, locating your target market is easier than it would be on Facebook or Pinterest! (Don’t forget to think about Authorship too, which is going to be essential in the future. More about that in another Under30CEO post here – Why Google+ Is a Great Idea For Business)
How do I find Google+ Communities?
All you need to do to find a relevant community is search for your key phrase, or related topics that your customers are likely to be searching for, and select the communities tab within Google+!
You’ll see a list full of great communities that are discussing the topics you’ve searched for.
Users who are members of this community are clearly searching out information, products and services related to these industries.
How do I use Google+ Communities?
Essentially, you can submit content and links to the community for them to view. The more +1s, comments and shares your content gets … the better.
Make sure you’re actively involved in the community. Don’t spam it with link after link about your services. Just as with Twitter chats, help the community by sharing others content, commenting on posts and +1’ing other peoples messages.
Remember, as far as Social Media goes, sharing is caring!
Make sure you track what visitors from Google+ are doing on your own website too. Are any of them converting? Are they staying on the site for a while? Are they moving to other pages on your site? Are they bouncing straight off?
Targeted traffic from these kinds of communities should be fairly effective on your website. If the results are awful (Huge bounce rate, no conversions etc.) it might be time to re-think your landing page.
3. Industry Forums
You know where I’m going with this one …
Forums are incredibly valuable communities. They’re full of real people, talking about the issues that matter to them in any given industry.
Active membership in a forum can be a long term lead generation tool.
Just as with my first two points, the people you’re trying to target are going to be active on industry forums. They’re clearly interested in that space and if you’ve got a good product, you’ll find that people are more than willing to engage with you and use your product or service!
How can I find relevant forums in my industry?
One of my favorite tools for finding threads and forums that are talking about your industry is using a forum search engine, two of my favorites are:
These allow you to search for threads or forums from a massive database.
How can I contribute to these forums?
Once you’ve found a couple of forums that seem to be fairly active, sign up for an account and get posting!
Initially you’ll want to make sure you’re sharing some knowledge, tips or advice which the forum will benefit from. This positions you as an authority. Plus, you’ll normally be allowed a signature, which will allow you to link to your website.
Bear in mind that great forum posts can be indexed for years and years. They’ll continue to rank well and the traffic will keep heading to that thread. If you’ve got a signature linking back to your site, you’ll continue to get extremely targeted traffic heading to your landing page.
That really is worth having, and all you’ll need to invest is time! Once again, track everything!
Now I know this isn’t a ‘channel’ as such, but it’s something that every new business needs. Whether you’re on your own, or in a team, you need to have a burning passion for what you’re promoting. Without this, it’ll be difficult to secure any clients at all.
If you’re passionate about your business you’ll always be talking about it. You never ever know who is going to overhear. Many people will tell you that your first customers will be your family, friends or someone from an associated network. Sure marketing is very clever now and there’s so much we can do, both on and offline, to promote our businesses, but there’s still nothing quite like the human touch.
Social networks are effective because people know that they’ve got similar opinions and problems to the people they’re connecting with. They trust these people more than they would a banner ad, or SERPS listing.
You need people to help your business grow!
So there you go! 4 free channels to help you attract new customers to your business. I’m sure if you combine these 4 methods, you’ll see a noticeable increase in the number of leads you’re generating.
What free methods do you know for attracting customers to your business? Do you think there’s a really blatant number one source that I’ve missed out?
Please leave a comment and give me your thoughts!
Sam is the Community Manager of Domainmonster.com – Specialists in Domain Names, Web Hosting and Website Builder. ICANN accredited and with fantastic customer support, Domainmonster.com continues to grow its already tremendous reputation. If you want to create your own website, Domainmonster.com can offer the complete service.