Build your business: 10 ways to get new customers

Every business owner wants to attract new customers. Here are 10 time-tested ways to
help you bring in new blood.

by Rieva Lesonsky

1. Ask for referrals.
Referrals are one of the best ways to get new customers, but if you sit back and wait for your current customers to refer their friends and family members to you, you could be waiting a long time.

Take charge by implementing a system for actively soliciting referrals from your satisfied customers. Build referral-generating activity into the sales process. For example, send a follow-up email asking for a referral after a customer has finished its rental. Have your salespeople ask for referrals when they follow up with customers after the sale.

2. Network.
Generate good old-fashioned word-of-mouth by participating in networking organizations and events relevant to your industry and your customers.

Approach networking with the attitude, “How can I help others?” rather than, “What’s in it for me?” By thinking about how you can be of service, you’ll build relationships that can lead to new customers.

3. Offer discounts and incentives for new customers.
Introductory offers, such as a two-for-one rental rate for a new customer’s first rental can lure curious customers in your door by providing a low-risk way to try your products or services. Track which customers redeem the special offer, then target them with marketing messages encouraging and enticing them to keep buying from you.

4. Contact old customers.
Everything old can be new again, including old customers who haven’t done business with you in a while. Go through your customer contacts on a regular basis and, after six months or a year without an interaction or purchase, reach out to dormant customers with a special offer via email, direct mail or phone. They’ll be glad you remembered them and that you want to win them back.

5. Improve your website.
These days, consumers and B2B buyers alike find new businesses primarily by searching online. That means your website has to do some heavy lifting to attract new customers.

Give your website a once-over to make sure that the design, content, graphics and SEO are up to date. If this isn’t your strong suit, it’s worth enlisting the services of a website design company and/or SEO expert.

6. Partner with complementary businesses.
Team up with businesses that have a similar customer base but aren’t directly competitive and strategize how you can target each other’s customers to drive new business to each other.

7. Promote your expertise.
Generate interest – and new customers – by publicizing your expertise in your industry. Participating in industry panel discussions or online webinars, speaking at industry events or to groups to which your target customers belong, or holding educational sessions or workshops will impress potential new customers with your subject expertise.

8. Use online reviews to your advantage.
Does your business get online reviews from customers? Cultivate your reviews and make the most of them. Link to reviews on your website and post signage in your location urging customers to check you out on Yelp or wherever the reviews are. Social proof is powerful and new customers are more likely to give your business a try if they see others praising it.

9. Participate in community events.
All else being equal, most people like to support independent businesses in their communities. Raise your profile in your community by taking part in charity events and organizations. Sponsor a local fun run, organize a holiday Toys For Kids donation, or supply a Little League team in your city with equipment. It gets your name out there, which helps bring in new customers.

10. Bring a friend.
Offer two-for-one, buy one, get one free or bring a friend deals to get your regular customers to introduce new customers to your business. 

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and president of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses and provides content for the Small Business Administration web site.

Copyright 2019 Urbain Communications, LLC. All rights reserved. Contact for permission to reprint or rebroadcast all or part of this article.