While doing some training recently with a client who had just set up a new enterprise, I needed to answer the question: How can I get more more customers for my business?
This question comes up a lot, so I thought I’d share a simple framework that I use to help clients understand what needs to happen for their business to start getting more, well, busy.
To answer the question you need to understand the journey someone goes through in order to consider making contact with you for the first time. For now, we’re going to call these ‘leads’. That isn’t intended to dehumanise the people who show interest in you, it’s just shorthand for “potential customer”.
By understanding where the leads come from in an established business, you can work backwards to figure out where to focus your energies.
The video version
If you prefer video (and who doesn’t) you can see the video I recorded for our client below. This isn’t a high production video – it just tells you what you need to know.
Getting more leads: where do they come from?
When you first start out, most of your customers will come through word of mouth referrals. This won’t be enough for very long!
As quickly as you possibly can, you should start trying to attract customers who started their research in search engines.
In both cases, your prospects will usually end up on your website.
How do I turn those people into leads?
The thing is, whether they’ve been sent your way by word of mouth or just found you in Google, your prospects usually still need a lot more info before they’re ready to make contact.
Your website is the cog at the centre of this machine. It must be designed to tell people what you do, and give evidence that you’re good at it (reviews). If you can do this in your area of business, try to be transparent about your pricing.
Once your website is made with your leads in mind, you’ll find that the more people who visit it, the more leads you get.
So how do I get more people to visit my website?
The short version is:
- Get your website appearing at the top of search results
- Put links to your website elsewhere on the web, including directories and social media
That’s it! Make a website that appeals to your potential leads, and then make sure it shows up in all the right places.
But I don’t want to do web and social stuff all the time
The good thing about understanding the basics is that you can return to them at any time.
We often find that once a business has been working hard at the web stuff for a few years, suddenly they find they get lots more word of mouth referrals again. That’s because while you’ve been working hard, you’ve been building up a long list of people who will tell their friends “you should try this place I went to last year”. It’s a great feeling when you’re in that sweet spot – because of the work you’ve been doing, people are being recommended to try you out, they’re checking you out online and reading your reviews and content, and then making contact.
When that drops off again, you don’t need to panic. You can go back to the basics, and put more effort into your website, social media, search engine visibility and so on.
By no means is this the complete guide to growing a business. But I hope it’s helpful in focusing your mind on the ways in which people come to you, and how you can pick where is best to allocate your resources at each point along your business journey.