When we ask our clients what their number one business challenge is, most of them tell us its finding new customers. In fact, that happens to be our number one challenge too, and it might be yours. We’ve come up with a list of places to find new customers. Many of these opportunities remain untapped and you may find you have the tactic all to yourself.
1. Your Local Better Business Bureau
The Better Business Bureau seeks to set a high standard of trust between businesses and consumers by accrediting businesses that agree to the Bureau’s business values. No doubt you are interested in providing a high level service to your customers and it will come naturally as a small business to meet these values. Joining the Better Business Bureau provides you a listing on their local website (one which Google attributes a high level of authority to) and includes your business in their directory under the services you provide, making it easy for you to be found by people searching for what you offer.
2. Your Local Chamber of Commerce
Your local Chamber of Commerce not only provides valuable resources to small businesses, they can help you connect with other businesses that need your services. Your local chamber of commerce holds networking events and trade shows‚Äö√Ñ√Ægreat places to introduce yourself, make new connections and find new customers.
3. Small Business Administration
The Small Business Administration offers access to a variety of business opportunities in your area. As a small business, you can promote your services through the SBA. They also offer resources for researching and responding to contracting opportunities. Your local SBA will also be able to put your in touch with other groups, notify you of local opportunities, and they hold events and workshops where you’ll meet other businesses you might be able to help.
4. Review Press Releases
Companies tend to announce new contracts, product launches, new executive hires, and other important updates through press releases. This is an opportunity for you to discover new businesses that might need your services. Respond to RFPs and see if you can help them with their product launch or suggest other services that might compliment the launch. Executive hires often indicate a change in direction for a company. You can benefit by being first to offer your services when the executive starts making changes. Good press release websites to review are Business Wire and PR Newswire.
5. Research Your Competitors
Its a safe assumption that your competitor’s clients need the same services you provide, and you know you can provide them better. Identify your competitors and start researching who their clients are. Most businesses list their clients on their website, so that’s a good place to start. You can also check out websites that list business profiles like Google Finance, Yahoo! Finance, Hoovers, ZoomInfo, and others, to find out about your competitors and their competitors (another business to search!), as well as their clients. Contact you’re competitor’s¬¨‚Ä† and your competitor’s competitors’ clients and see if you can help them out. It’s a great way to find new customers and you learn more about your competition.
6. Search the Web
Use Google to help you find new customers that need your services. Create a list of keywords and keyword phrases that are associated with your business, products and services. Find businesses, associations, trade groups, and forums that you can target. Use the results to identify new prospects for your business.
7. Associations, Trade Groups & Industry Groups
You should join associations and trade groups within your industry. They’re a great way to network and find new customers for you business.¬¨‚Ä† Some associations and groups may sell their lists, though for the cost you might just have each of your team members join a different association or trade group to gain access. If you’re not a member, you might be able to gain access by demonstrating your expertise and offering to be a provider. Consider attending meetings to network and discover new customers to reach out to. Check out the ASAE website for a lot of valuable information and to search for associations.
8. Conferences, Trade Shows & Expositions
Consider attending a trade show or exposition that your target customer is likely to be attend. You don’t necessarily have to have a booth (though that is fine too). You can simply walk around exchanging business cards and contact your new prospects later about your services. Check out Events in America, Trade Shows Biz and TSNN to get started.
9. Free Industry Publications & Newsletters
Most industries put out free publications loaded with information about the industry, competitors, industry contacts, requests for proposals, case studies, and more. Sign up for these publications and newsletters. You can discover a lot about potential clients as well as competitors that you can research to see if you can serve their clients. Do a search online or check out Beyond.com’s listings of free publications for free publications.
10. Company Directories
Several companies put together directories of businesses you can contact directly. These lists are not free, so you should target your businesses carefully. You might send a personal letter introducing yourself and your services. Include an incentive for them to take action, just as you would online. Some top providers include LexisNexus, Dun & Bradstreet, and InfoUSA. You may also consider checking out the Yahoo! Directory of Company Directories for other sources. Make sure you use a reputable service to avoid getting old or worthless lists.
11. Networking Groups & Lead Exchange Groups
There are many networking groups that you can attend to find new customers and create interest in your services. Check your local newspaper, Chamber of Commerce or SBA to find when and where these groups are meeting. Lead exchange groups offer the opportunity to meet new people outside your industry, exposing you new opportunities for business. You never know who might be able to help you find new customers or put you in touch with a new prospect. You can find lead exchange groups online at Business International and LeTip International.
12. New Business Listings
New businesses are often in need of services to get setup and running. Local and state governments, which license businesses, often list new businesses in their online databases. Local newspapers also list new businesses in their Business section. Find these new businesses and reach out to them. Find out if they need your services or if you can help them with anything. Providing some free advice and offering insights into businesses challenges is a great way to build a relationship. If they don’t need your services now, they will think of you when they do.
These are just a few places where you can find new customers and create new relationships to help grow your business. Use your imagination to find other sources of potential clients. Even if you aren’t able to find immediate business opportunities, the relationships and connections you create will put you front of mind for when your services are needed.
Are there any other places to find new customers that we didn’t cover? Let others know by adding them to the comments below.