Clients, clients, clients. In a way, all business boils down to this single question: How do I grow my list of customers?

Well, from the digital marketing standpoint, there are many strategies you can use. Content marketing and SEO can make your business rank higher in search results; Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising can place your products in front of the people who are most likely to buy them; and content marketing builds your search rankings via blogs, news articles, press releases, and killer, keyword-rich web pages. 

But today, we’re going to deviate a little from our usual menu of digital marketing advice, and talk about the human aspect of it all: how you—just you—can work your network and convert more leads into solid, paying clients.

In no particular order…

7. Establish a Comfort Zone—or Get Out of Yours

We are in the business of growing businesses. As such, we see a lot of companies with the same basic problem: they either haven’t narrowed down their target customer, or have narrowed it down too much. If you’re having trouble expanding your customer base, it might be that you are casting your net so wide that no one feels like they belong in it. Obviously, you want to secure as many leads as possible. But, if your answer to “who is your target demographic?” is “everyone,” you might be attracting…no one.

Then, of course, there’s the opposite problem: a focus so narrow that it misses potential opportunities. If you’re struggling to attract new customers, maybe it’s time to consider alternative routes, try something different, and go against the grain. Remember, too, that today’s consumers respond much more to authenticity than sales pitches. Put your primary focus on earning trust, and the rest will follow.

6. Leverage Your Network

You’ve likely heard it since you were in school: network, network, network. You might even be sick of hearing it. But the reason networking is usually the #1 tip on these type of lists is simple: it works. That’s because a third-party recommendation is usually more reliable than none at all. If your friend says that someone is trustworthy, well, that’s one neutral-party voucher for that candidate, and 0 for all the others. Your friend has no stakes in the game, and doesn’t want to harm your relationship by suggesting a bad hire.

The same goes for clients choosing companies to work with. Referrals from your existing network can be extremely powerful. If you don’t have a good network, you’ll have to build one. For example, if you sell bikes, join as many cycling-related groups as possible. Don’t think of it as a hobby or a waste of time. Having a social life is actually good business sense.

5. Speak at an Industry Event

We know, we know—public speaking isn’t for everyone, and for some people, it can be downright terrifying. But if you’re up for the challenge, speaking authoritatively on an industry-related topic can give you a big boost in visibility. By sharing your experience and getting involved in your community at a local level, you’ll have the opportunity to grow your connections, as well as your reputation as a thought leader in your industry. Sometimes the best way to prove that you know what you’re talking about is to teach it.

4. Engage Content Marketing Techniques

Okay, we said we wouldn’t dwell too long in the nitty-gritty of digital marketing. But since we’re talking about growing your customer base quickly, we’d be remiss to leave content out of the equation. Content marketing is a great, relatively affordable way to position yourself as an industry expert, in a way that will last long after your physical body has left the podium. If you speak at an event, you’re only presenting your information for an hour or so. But blog posts, articles, white papers, social media posts, and newsletters will essentially last forever in the digital space.

Content marketing can also reach a much broader audience. To use our workshop example again, if you speak at an event, you will probably reach about 20 people who had the time, energy, and commitment to make it out and find parking. But if you post content online and on social media, you’re reaching anyone with access to a keyboard. For that reason, content marketing is one of the most powerful ways to build your client base while at the same time improving your SEO rankings

3. Offer Free Stuff

People love free stuff. Free trials of your product; free consultations; free SEO audits: All of these things don’t cost you anything but time, and can usually rope you, at the very least, a good referral or testimonial. Offering free services is also a great way to test-run a new idea, process, or product on someone who won’t be too mad about imperfect results. 

If you want to go the free-physical-stuff route, our number one tip is to distribute things people want to keep. A heavy, high-quality pen; a business card that’s too beautiful to throw out; a handy something-or-other that sticks to the fridge: all of these have long lifespans and, as such, will keep your name around long after your interaction with a potential lead is over. Don’t make the mistake so many businesses make of handing out cheap pens, ugly paperweights, or candy wrappers that will just get chucked in the trash. (We highly recommend office desk toys like this one.) 

2. Do Charity Work

There’s nothing like good old-fashioned PR. Donating your time and energy to something like St. Baldrick’s Brave the Shave will make you look good and, as an added bonus, make you feel good!

You could also join any a local civic club/organizations, like your local Rotary club. Rotary is an international, non-denominational organization which gathers business leaders together to provide humanitarian services to the world. There are 34,282 member clubs worldwide, and 1.2 million members. I’ve been involved with Rotary since 2008, when I lived in South Charlotte, and am currently the President of the Cary MacGregor Rotary Club in Cary, NC. Donating my time, energy, and money is a great way to break away from my work life, and is also a great way to meet so many other like-minded individuals, from business owners and managers, to retirees and community influencers. 

Work doesn’t have to all be about hustling 24/7—sometimes it’s nice to give back to the community and build word of mouth about your business while doing it!

1. Build Your Business with Whiteboard Digital Marketing

If you need help acquiring new customers, Whiteboard Digital is here to help you every step of the way. We have over 13 years of experience helping local businesses grow through digital marketing techniques like SEO, PPC, content marketing, PR, and social media. Interested in partnering with us? Let’s grab coffee and plot our next victory.   

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