It is important to understand how to find and onboard clients and the objective here is to help you master how to leverage your existing networks to find clients. This is an area that I have leveraged successfully for our businesses. I have also helped the entrepreneurs who enrol in the Start Your Business in 30 Days Program to gain clarity on how to find and onboard clients for their businesses. Click here to enrol.
Leveraging Your Existing Network To Find And Onboard Clients
A common challenge businesses just starting out face is getting paying customers. This weighs many founders down and often discourages them in their business pursuits.
The best place to start to find and onboard customers is from family and friends. Tell your inner circle about your new business and mandate them to also tell their own families and friends. You will see that your circle expands quickly as soon as they do that. Think about how many people you know and extrapolate from that to get a sense of just how big that circle can get.
It is important to let people know what you are doing. Even though the first clients I had for ReDahlia Workspaces were not family or friends as I relocated to set up the business, my family and friends shared my new business widely with their friends on social media. Since we commenced business registration services, tax compliance services, consulting and business training, family and friends have used our services themselves and have recommended us to other people for similar services.
Depending on the service you provide, you can get tons of referrals from this channel. Word of mouth works magic especially if you are good at what you do.
Strategies To Use Existing Networks to Find and Onboard Clients
Tell your co-workers about your business. They are one of your first points of sale, tell them to help you spread the word.
After telling your co-workers, you want to announce your new business on social media. Be proud of your new venture and include links to your website so people can see what your product and services are. It is important to not only project an image of professionalism but to also walk the talk.
Beyond simply telling your family and friends about your business, offer them a free product, service, or consultation and ensure you do a great job. This helps with earning referrals. These people have thousands of friends and family that you do not know but potentially need your services.
For emphasis, do not ask for referrals if your service is not stellar. Ensure you do amazing work so that even if you do not get a referral immediately, you can include such a project in your portfolio. This simple step can unearth valuable business and work for you just from your circle.
Sources To Find Targeted Customer
Targeted here means the specific clients who want your products or services. We have discussed how to leverage your existing network to find and onboard customers. After you’ve reached out to your family and friends, you’ll need to expand your reach to locate your target customers.
A few useful places to find your target customers include;
Job listing platforms
They are looking for a product or service you offer. Say you are a freelancer; you should be looking at online job boards. It is easy to think online job boards are only for job seekers but it may surprise you to know that is not always the case.
LinkedIn is another great place to connect with businesses and build your clientele. Search for people in related fields who are decision-makers and introduce yourself or your business as a new business in the space.
It may surprise you that they may have been looking for the kind of service you offer. For LinkedIn, you may not have any direct connections with a person and therefore may have to pay to send them a message.
You can also explore finding a mutual connection with such a person and then ask to be introduced. You can then establish a connection and introduce your business.
Attend targeted events and conventions
This is particularly helpful if you have just moved to a new city and you are about to start your business. I did a lot of this when I first moved to Lagos. But there is a caveat here.
Do not just attend every event and convention; be strategic with your choice of the event to attend. For your time there to be meaningful, such an event must have your target audience in attendance.
Ensure you are well prepared before attending by doing some research on some of the attendees and organizing your marketing materials, business cards and brochures.
Follow up promptly with people you have exchanged business cards with by at least writing them via email as soon as possible. It is also possible to attend such events and conventions as a vendor; in this instance, you may have to pay for a booth or a stand at the venue.
Also, track and attend business startup meetings. I have attended a lot of such meetings and we have also had the pleasure of hosting a couple of them at ReDahlia.
These business startup meetings are a congregation of founders with similar interests and even challenges they would want solved. Maybe a website they want designed, or videography and photography services, or even graphic designs. If you offer such services then you must be in the room to offer solutions to these business owners.
Local businesses in your area always need help. They need to advertise their business, design their website and develop content, register their business or train their staff.
Usually, such businesses may not have huge budgets, so you can offer them good discounts on your product or service or you can offer them the freemium model of your product. This is great because it can spark off word-of-mouth referrals in your locality. If you become the go-to place for your kind of business in your town, you can potentially serve a big market just by getting the local community talk about you.
Companies, no matter their size, have wide networks you can benefit from by referrals, especially if you do very great work.
By advertising online on Google, Facebook, Instagram, or on Entrepreneurs.ng, you will be targeting specific people in your niche with your ads. You can target people by demographics, location, or people who have an interest in your kind of industry. You can get to the exact audience who need your product and service. At the Start Your Business in 30 Days Program, we teach extensively on how to leverage the internet and social media to grow your business. Enrol now.
In addition to advertising, another way we have grown our brand is content marketing. These content are articles, videos, books on Entrepreneurs.ng/shop, tutorials, courses and podcasts.
You can give content away for free to build SEO and I am actually in the business of business content with Entreprenurs.ng. The greater the traffic to your site, the wider your reach and potential customers.
Once they visit your website, deploy your opt-in form to get them to subscribe to your email list and you can then email them about your services and products or new developments in your business.
Content marketing is a long-tail approach to getting customers as it involves more steps rather than simply walking into your store to buy your product but it is quite effective in converting customers to fans. This can be really powerful in the long term as brand loyalty and repeat business are easier to achieve when customers become real fans.
This approach is time-consuming as a lot goes into content creation but given that such content remains online indefinitely, the extent of its reach is invaluable. When I started ReDahlia Workspaces, I created a lot of content about the co-working industry which I published on ReDahlia.com, Medium, LinkedIn, and subsequently Entrepreneurs.ng. Most clients who have used our space found us through those published content.
In line with the content marketing approach is your email list. Your email list includes people who already trust you and your most targeted customer. They already trust you and your offering, and they signed up for your email updates because of this interest.
You have direct access to them and it gets easier to convert them to paying customers with well-planned emails but be mindful to not become a nuisance or overbearing while pushing your product or service.
Also, bear in mind that people are more likely to unsubscribe from your list if you spam their emails or if your messaging sounds like you are trying to scam them. The way to approach email marketing is to provide valuable information and show off your business as very professional.
Do not forget to bring that personal touch of the business to bear as you not only want them to appreciate the email but to also trust you. At some point, you will have to ask for the sale, the very essence of all the engagement.
Offline distribution of marketing materials
One of the methods we used when we launched ReDahlia Workspaces was to identify the complementary businesses in the area and visit them with our brochure. We approached hotels that did not have boardrooms or event venues and pitched our business to them. We sold the idea that some of the clients who were in town for work or to meet with business partners may not like to meet with people in their hotel rooms.
They agreed to place our brochures in their reception and rooms and in return, we also placed their marketing materials in our reception. We even struck a deal with a hotel to get a discount for any of our clients interested in lodging in their facility.
Intentionally going through these steps and aiming to connect with 3-15 people in each of these categories will seal business deals for you, so you must take the time to do it.
Practical Steps To Leveraging Your Network to Find and Onboard Clients
Follow the steps and leverage your existing network to find and onboard clients for your business.
Step One: Identify Your Inner Circle
Create a list of your family members, friends, co-workers, and acquaintances who could potentially benefit from your products or services. Think about who would be interested in what you offer and who might be able to refer you to others.
Step Two: Craft Your Personalized Message
Prepare a concise and compelling message about your business. Make sure it clearly communicates what you offer and the value you bring to your clients. Practice delivering this message confidently to ensure you can effectively communicate it when the opportunity arises. At the Start Your Business in 30 Days Program, our entrepreneurs submit their messages and I review them and provide them practical feedback. Click here to enrol.
Step Three: Reach Out to Your Inner Circle
Initiate conversations with your inner circle and inform them about your new business. Share your passion and enthusiasm for what you do. Be genuine and transparent in your interactions. Ask for their support in spreading the word about your business to their networks.
Step Four: Offer Value and Excellent Service
Ensure you deliver top-notch quality and exceed their expectations. Satisfied customers are more likely to refer others to your business.
Step Five: Attend Targeted Events
Identify relevant events and conventions related to your industry or target audience. Research and choose events that attract potential clients. Prepare marketing materials and business cards to distribute during these events. Engage with attendees and be prepared to discuss your business professionally.
Step Six: Create Valuable Content
Develop content that showcases your expertise and provides value to your target audience. Consider starting a blog, sharing informative videos, or creating free resources related to your business. Promote this content through your website and social media channels to attract potential clients.
Step Seven: Offline Marketing
Identify local businesses in your area that may benefit from your offerings. Reach out to them with your marketing materials and propose mutually beneficial partnerships. Think creatively about how you can support each other’s businesses.
Step Eight: Monitor and Evaluate
Track the effectiveness of your efforts in finding and onboarding clients. Measure your success in terms of leads generated, conversions, and customer satisfaction.
Use this data to make informed decisions and refine your strategies.
Step Nine: Reflection and Learning
Reflect on your experiences throughout this project. What worked well, and what challenges did you encounter? Learn from your interactions and adjust your approach as needed. You get the opportunity to do this with other entrepreneurs in the Start Your Business in 30 Days Program. Click here to enrol.
Remember that building a strong client base takes time and persistence. Every connection and interaction is an opportunity to grow your business. Follow these methods and you can find and onboard clients for your business. If you want to master the act of finding and onboarding clients for your business, enrol in the Start Your Business in 30 Days course.
How I Can Work with You to Start And Grow Your Business
If you want to work with me to start a profitable and sustainable business, then enrol in the Start Your Business in 30 Days Program. I will take you from idea to starting your business in 30 days.
Every week, I teach practical business lessons that have helped thousands of entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. If you want to benefit from my teachings, click to sign up for the weekly business lesson here.
I am an internationally trained award-winning entrepreneur running three profitable businesses and a member of the prestigious Forbes Coaches Council. I help aspiring entrepreneurs start and set up their businesses through my program- Start Your Business In 30 Days.
And, I work with companies and established corporations to scale their impact and revenue. Reach me at Florence@entrepreneurs.ng if you would like to transform your business.