“The law of attraction is simply a tool. To become a master craftsman with any tool, you first have to master its use.” – Andy Shaw
What do you believe is the main difference between an idea for a business, and an actual business? It is obvious – customers that buy. Any business owner understands and knows that without customers there would be no business – customers are the lifeline of any company. A steady flow of paying customers is essential to the growth and sustainability of a company, but the question is what should be done to find and attract your first customers. There are some standard methods, and companies possibly use them in conjunction with other ‘tactics’ that work best for them.
As with anything, before you head out to gain your first customers, it is imperative that your business knows the kind of customers it business needs and would prefer to have. Without this basic awareness, it would be impossible to know where to look. It is this understanding that would enable a company to narrow down its options, and assess its target audience. It is important for a company to know how its products and services would help the targeted audience, by understanding what their needs, expectations, pain areas, and business requirements would be. To attract your first customers, a business must be able to explain clearly out how it would be able to make the lives of its customers a lot easier, and help the customer’s business to succeed. The efforts to attract your first customers would need to start inward – the company must have a clear vision of its business, and the kinds of customers that would help it to achieve its goals. While starting out, it would be imprudent for any business to focus on too large a customer base – having niche customers in focus would help to not only attract your first customers, but also get them to buy repeatedly.
While assessing your first customers, it is important to know in which parts of the country and world they may live. This is vital for a business, especially if it does not have the bandwidth to deliver goods beyond a certain distance. Hence, sending out messages to people who live far away in your country, or those who live overseas, would make no sense for a company without infrastructure to deliver and ship goods. This may sound obvious, but many businesses in their start-up phase, and gung-ho about gaining their first customers, could very easily overlook this aspect. Further to this point, it would therefore mean that your company should thoroughly understand its business, strengths, and shortcomings, if you are to attract your first customers and keep them. In addition, your company should be knowledgeable enough to help these ‘interested, first customers’ to understand the offerings of the company.
We know that customers are attracted to companies that seem to have ‘all the answers’ – that is those companies, which are subject matter experts and seen as ‘an authority’ in the marketplace. This is one of the best reasons a company could give for choosing it, while trying to attract its first customers. The more value customers can see in the association, the more interested and attracted they would be towards a company and its business. Networking, organizing events, and placing the company ‘out there’ are great ways to ensure increased awareness of the company and an understanding of its business. Attracting your first customers may not be an easy task, but when done right, it is possible to convert ‘visitors and casual onlookers’ to actual buying customers.
Sending out messages with something free, which would be of value to the target audience, is a great to attract your first customers. The messages should encourage them to complete some actions, such as opting for being on the company’s email list, or to gain more information about the company, or some such ‘call to action’. Emails are highly effective, when used right, to gain the attention of a target customer base. It all depends on the kind of content a company puts in, the attention it pays to framing a catchy subject line, and the time of year it sends out such messages. All these aspects put together can either gain for a company its first customers, or lose their attention forever. The idea is to show the target audience that your company understands its needs and that the offerings of the company would help to alleviate their problems and pain areas.
When starting a new business, gaining your first customers is not easy, especially given the number of ‘big players’ and a host of new companies mushrooming daily. All the companies are vying for the attention of the same customers, and it is becoming exceedingly tough to become noticed. This is why, it would be great for a new company to leverage every association and relationship it may have in the marketplace. Every business associate can, in some way help a company get attention for its business, and it is the onus of a company to leverage its connections to gain benefits. It is common knowledge that within a society and in the world of business, interdependence helps a lot more than working in a vacuum. Hence, by tapping into the strength of existing relationships, a company can seek their help to gain introductions to other business owners, who could be prospective customers. Remaining humble, polite, and keeping abreast with industry happenings will get more people to like your business, and they would be more amenable to gain the ‘vital’ connections for your company.
It is always necessary to thank a person who may have got an introduction for your company with a prospective customer. It is also imperative to follow up with the prospect, and request an introductory meeting. In the event that your company manages to get a meeting, ensure that the person representing the company matches the stature in the customer’s company. In addition, ensure that you have sufficient knowledge about the customer – their pain areas, needs, business requirements and expectations, industry knowledge, competitor knowledge, and other such critical to success information. Customers love companies that know exactly what they want, appear intelligent and have knowledge of the industry and the prospective customer’s business. The more value your company can show for its prospective customers, the more likely it is that prospects will turn to buying and long standing profitable customers.
As mentioned, the most difficult thing to gain for any company is credibility and customer trust. However, given that this takes years to build, as a new company it would be very tough for you to gain the trust of a customer base. It would be prudent therefore, to enter into a partnership with an established and credible company, which would enjoy the trust of a customer base. Alternatively, your company could offer discounted prices, for certain good and or services, in exchange for valuable introductions or endorsement on publicly visible platforms.
Whatever method your company employs, the driving force must be to gain your first customers, and turn them to loyal and profitable fans. Use whatever resources possible and ensure that your customer service is top class – it would be very hard to ignore a company that genuinely cares for its customers and their needs.