4 Things No One Told You About Building Your Client Base
Truth be told, there are A LOT of things no one tells you about owning and operating your own small business…and how to acquire clients is one of those things.
When it comes to vetting prospective clients, here are four things I’m pretty sure no one told you.
Word of mouth promotion is great…but it might take a little more effort to snag clients: Many small business owners will tell you that word of mouth referrals and testimonies have brought a number of clients their way, especially in the social media age. However, it may take more than a few shoutouts and social media tags to help you build a clientele base that grows over time. If you find yourself stalling when it comes to patrons, consider going on a business card blitz or even a more traditional route via local print and television ads, radio spots, or vendor space at community events — even if your enterprise is digitally based. No matter how essential, your products and services may need more than word of mouth to sell them. Think about it: even toilet paper companies use commercials and ads.
Your clients will probably want something for nothing: Ask any number of small business owners and you’ll find that there’s one common denominator each startup has faced while trying to procure clients: they want something at a discounted price or “for the free”. Whether this is fueled by the “customer is always right” adage or by the fact that many consumers believe they are helping a budding business out through their patronage, a true reason for this remains unknown.
However, you don’t have to feel pressured into offering freebies, discounted services, or any other sort of incentive to get potential clients to believe in your brand. As we’ve discussed before, if consumers are supporting you because of your story and your values, those consumers typically see value in what you’re offering and respect the worth of your hard work. While it’s perfectly fine to offer free services, products, and gifts to supporters for contributing to your small business success over time, don’t be quick to sell yourself short.
It won’t be easy: It’s practically a given to think that once you’ve launched your small business that clients will (somewhat) naturally migrate to you and your enterprise’s offerings and a great business relationship will be the end result…right? While this is a great ideal, the reality is most definitely bound to look a bit different. When you attempt to procure new prospects, there will certainly be some good connections and transactions. On the other hand, there will be disappointment, there will be confusion, and there will be frustration that you typically don’t see or hear about.
Seasoned small business owners will readily share tales of potential clients that ghosted, clients that proposed insulting pricing rates, clients whose vision didn’t align with that of the vendor, and clients who showed they were just plain CRAZY — all before a single invoice was drafted. With this in mind, never doubt your reasons for starting your own enterprise and don’t doubt the moral and ethical foundation that you’ve built your brand on. The process of working with clients may not be easy, but what in the business world really is?
It doesn’t have to cost you a fortune: Large corporations spend millions annually on talent and client acquisition…partly because they have the funds to do so. But when it comes to your small business, don’t feel like you have to break the bank to attract the clients you want to reach. Experts offer that doing so is a simple as meeting potential clients where they are (LITERALLY) and building partnerships that get you noticed, known, and remembered.
Trying to attract more naturalistas? Pair up with a small haircare brand or stylist to run a demo booth at the next area hair show or expo. Wanting to get more people interested in your resume rehab efforts? Try partnering with a local education organization, community job resource, or area college or university that will offer you time and space to showcase your skills and market your services. By increasing your visibility and partnering with existing trusted businesses or entities through these inexpensive avenues, you show clients that you — and your small business — really do mean business and that you can provide the products and/or services they may be looking for...without having to spend a grip to prove it.
Because of our dedication to small businesses and small business owners like you, our team here at Jali Creatives is here to help you strategize when it comes to client on boarding and procurement. What problems or concerns are you currently facing as you attempt to market your products and/or services to prospective clients? Leave us a comment and let us know how we can help!