In my 16 years of marketing, the one question I’ve received the most is, “How do I attract new customers?”…or some variation of that. In all honesty, the answer has changed over the years, so I can understand how frustrating this is for local business owners.
Technology is changing how we target customers. We have options that we never had before. It used to be that you would purchase a print ad and waited 3-6 months to see how effective the ad was. Now, you can launch an ad, see how it’s performing immediately and adjust it to make it better.
However, even with this new technology, I don’t believe we should rule out some of the old ways of getting new customers. Having a nice blend of both seems to work well for most local businesses I work with. Let’s take a look!
How to Attract New Customers in 2018
When your marketing efforts include both traditional and digital campaigns, you are positioning your brand to reach different kinds of consumers. This method allows you cast a wide net, while still targeting your best audiences.
Search Engine Ads
Let’s start by exploring search engine ads. The two main advertising programs are Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords) and Bing Ads. Search engine ads are typically the warmest leads you can get, as the consumer is actively searching for your product or service.
In the image below, I typed camping gear into my Google search bar and the top part of the results are search engine ads. First you have shopping ads, then beneath that, there’s a search ad. There are multiple kinds of ads so different types of companies can use what highlights their business the most.
Search engine ads can attract new customers, get traffic to your site and can help increase your website authority in the eyes of Google and Bing.
Google My Business Listing
Most local businesses that I come in contact with have no idea that Google offers a free business listing that helps you to be found on a local level. It’s easy to get and lets Google know your business exists. The image below shows search results for local gift shops.
Your listing can include a map of your location, your website link, posts, photos, videos and more. Set up your listing with my step-by-step guide.
Social Media Marketing
When it comes to social media platforms, we have more options than ever to promote our businesses. We are now in a world of constant engagement with our devices. The average time spent on social media per day is almost two hours, according to a recent article about social media habits.
So how can you take advantage of that for your business? First, you want to have a presence on platforms that match your target audience. Start by looking at basic demographics like age and gender. The image below is a slide from a recent presentation I made, showing the demographics for Facebook users.
Facebook has the widest array of shoppers and is used by many businesses because of that reason. Facebook ads can be tricky but there are ways to make your ads perform at their best. Each platform offers unique targeting options and has the potential to produce results, even on a limited budget.
Connecting with other businesses who are looking to succeed can be a very powerful method for attracting new customers. You can join your local chamber of commerce, BNI group, or sign up for Network After Work events (I love their speed networking events!). In my experience, the business owners who participate in these events want to see other businesses succeed, so they’ll help connect you with people that will benefit your business.
If you’re like me and have a ton of knowledge about your profession, hosting workshops could be a great way to attract new customers. It positions you as an expert, and if your students need help down the line, you would be a trusted source for them.
Planning a workshop where you’re speaking about a topic for a couple hours can be intimidating at first. When you’re starting out, consider teaming up with complementary businesses and split the talking time. For example, if I were hosting a workshop about content marketing (which IS coming soon!), I could invite a writer and graphic designer to co-host the workshop with me. The most important thing is that the workshop provides value and actionable tips.
This is one of the tactics I’ve used for years and it still works. Encourage your existing customers to refer their friends and family in exchange for a free gift. You could offer 10% off their next purchase, or a gift card, or credit on their account.
For example, I am get my groceries delivered by Instacart. If I send my custom link to friends and they sign up for the service, we both get $10 towards our groceries. Why wouldn’t I want to share my special link with friends and family?
My last idea for attracting new customers is running contests. This method helps you get new business in a couple different ways. First, you will obtain the contact information of people you know are interested in your product or service. This is great for sending them email updates on new products or services.
Second, you can use that mailing list to help you target users on social media platforms. For example, on LinkedIn you can upload your customer list and it will find people who have similar characteristics as those on your list. Contests can certainly help you attract new customers. I personally use King Sumo for mine. They make it easy and it’s free!
I hope you now have a bunch of ideas running through your head of new ways you want to try to attract new customers. My advice to you is choose one or two that you want to try first and focus on building them before trying others. If you need more direction, schedule a free consultation with me.
Until next time…
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7 Ways to Attract New Customers to Your Local Business