That pretty website you built, that killer copy, it isn’t going to make customers come.
Entrepreneurs, like young single girls waiting for the day their prince will come, often dream that if they prepare enough, if they put out the right signals that customers will swoop in and save them from their life of cubicle mediocrity and the dull gray lethargy it entails. In reality, that knight in shining armor—whether it’s Mr. Right or a portfolio of clients with deep pockets—isn’t going to arrive.
In this story called Reality the princess who gets the guy is the one who actually steps out of the corner, kicks off those pain in the ass high heels, pulls up her skirt and shows a little leg—and maybe brushes that leg ever so slightly and seductively against the pant leg of her target. In other words, the one who goes out and gets the guy.
But we’re not talking about guys, or princes or legs. We want customers and clients—and lest we forget—money and the things money can buy. It works the same way though. You need to stop dreaming, stop waiting for them to find you and go out and drum up the business.
That said I know everyone talks about “how” to get business but never “where” to get business. As a new entrepreneur you look at established business owners and wonder where they get their customers. No one ever shares that secret. However, in one of my last posts I promised I’d share where I find mine.
Here are my main methods of getting clients:
- My website
- Referrals from previous clients
- Marketing efforts
- RFPs and freelance sites
- Cold calling
To be honest, I get far fewer clients straight from my website calling me out of the blue than I do by actually getting out there and finding them. It’s wonderful when I do get those clients and I did get a lot more straight from the website when I was actively optimizing it but these days I concentrate more on offering useful information than on worrying about keywords. So the percentage of clients who find me through my website is a lot smaller now, but it does bring in clients and it usually works to seal the deal.
Referrals from previous clients are a big source of new clients. My marketing efforts also result in clients. My marketing efforts often include a mention in the news, a guest post on another blog, a news or blog interview or a link to one of my blog posts.
I try to network whenever I can. This means social media of course but also offline. Both my online and offline networking often result in clients or collaborative efforts. For instance, I may meet a web designer interested in offering clients web content writing as an additional service but needs a copywriting to do so—bam! Win-win.
I actively seek out Request for Proposals. They are awesome because you know that they are actually in need of your services and are ready to take action to hire a provider. Same thing with freelance sites like Guru, Freelancer, Elance or others. When business is slow I will bid on projects to keep my income a little more level. More often than not those clients end up coming to me for future projects they have.
Overwhelmingly though I get the majority of clients through cold calling. Not always necessarily picking up the phone—though I do that too—but generally “calling on” prospective clients and asking if they have a need for my services. This can be tedious and I often employ my Rule of 40 here because you get a lot of “no”s and people who don’t need your services. But if you work your leads right then they’ll become clients or refer clients to you in time.
You may have dreamed about your business for a long time before finally launching it but now is the time to stop dreaming, stop fantasizing and get real. Get out and get those clients because they won’t go out of their way to find you.