The very first customer is always the hardest to land. This section gives you some top tips to help you overcome this challenge.
2. Getting your first customer
No one wants to go into a completely empty restaurant. People want to know that you already have other satisfied customers.
What a dilemma – you have to have customers to get customers! Here are some tips to help you get that very first customer.
1. Tap into a warm market
Who are the people most likely to buy from you or give you good referrals? Friends – or their friends, family, neighbours, former business colleagues or suppliers, people you know socially, at the golf club, in the gym, on the school run, and so on. Build your list of these ‘warm’ contacts and use them to get the word out.
2. Tell them what you are doing
Send a personal letter and follow up with a phone call a few days later. Or set up a breakfast, lunch or coffee meeting or just give them a ‘catch-up’ phone call. Tell them about your new business and create interest and excitement in what you are doing.
3. Give your product or service away
Whatever your product or service, you can offer it to your first customer(s) free. Even if this costs you some money, it is usually cheaper than most other marketing activity. And it doesn’t have to be free forever – you can charge these customers next time they buy from you.
4. Offer a good deal
It’s a good idea to offer a very favourable price to your first customers. We’ve all seen the “Opening Special – This Week Only” deals. Encourage people to give you a try.
5. Use Social Networking
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and many other Social Networking sites are free and great for getting the word out. Simply list your product or service, offer a low-cost introductory special and explain that you’re just getting started.
6. Ask your competitors for their excess work
Yes, that’s right, your competitors! Talk to other people in your field and find out if you can help them out. If they are very busy or have small customers that aren’t profitable for them, they may be interested in sub-contracting or referring work to you.
7. Ask your former employer if you can work for them
Your former employer may be looking for new suppliers or outside contractors to do some or all of the work you did before – particularly if they have down-sized. Why not see if you can help them out. You may not want to work for them forever, but they may be a good first customer.
A final word
Remember to ask your first customers for referrals and a testimonial to put on your website and in your marketing material. Satisfied customers encourage more customers……lots more!
Next: Promoting your business