Woman holding her dog at the groomer while the employee pets him.
It's always great to meet a new customer. But you can't just wait for them to show up—you have to reach out and find them. — Getty Images/SolStock

Business owners face the shared challenge of attracting new customers to their brand — especially early on in developing their company. With so many competitors to consider in every market, it can be discouraging to try to make your business and its offerings stand out. However, there are ways you can increase your marketing efforts and connect with the right consumers. Below, six business owners shared their secrets for finding new customers.

Offer solutions, don't just sell

Tom Gibson, owner of N-Hance Wood Refinishing of Charleston, West Virginia

As a business owner, it’s important to consider your target customer base and some common challenges they might face — then offer a solution in the form of products or services.

“People do not want to be sold [to] — they want to find solutions to their problems,” said Tom Gibson, owner of N-Hance Wood Refinishing of Charleston, West Virginia. “View every interaction as an opportunity to strengthen your reputation and build trust.”

It’s important to identify your brand’s purpose, understand just how you can serve your customers and communicate your value every chance you get.

“From an initial phone call, to a consultation, to how you address a negative review online, your business should view every interaction as an opportunity to showcase your company values,” Gibson continued. “This will help you build a favorable reputation, one that is visible and felt by existing and prospective customers.”

Utilize social media

Jamie Lee, owner of Tutor Doctor of South Tampa and Clearwater, Florida

Social media has opened countless opportunities for brands to connect with their target consumers. If you want to attract new customers to your business, work on strengthening your social media presence.

“One of our most powerful tactics is using Facebook groups,” said Jamie Lee, owner of Tutor Doctor in South Tampa and Clearwater, Florida. “Oftentimes, parents in those groups are asking for support for their students, and we are able to connect with them quickly and easily with any solution they may need.”

Interacting with your audience on social media can build stronger, more personal connections that lead to lasting business relationships.

Treat customers as humans

Robert Howell and Josh Luetkemeyer of Mighty Dog Roofing of Southwest Denver Metro, Colorado

In a competitive market, it can be challenging to convince customers to trust your brand over the countless others at their disposal. To really connect with your audience, make sure you treat them like people first.

“Don’t approach prospective customers as a ‘sales’ opportunity,” said Robert Howell and Josh Luetkemeyer of Mighty Dog Roofing of the southwest Denver metro area. “Showcase your true intention of caring about their wants and needs. Get a thorough understanding of their issues, goals and what their vision of success looks like, and you will find success.”

One of the best sources to [find] new customers is to tap into fellow local businesses and their client base as a way to cross-promote.

Kari Valcich, owner of Blo Blow Dry Bar of Franklin Lakes, Greenwich and Jersey City

Hire the right people

Amy Spahr, co-owner of The Junkluggers of Greater Santa Clarita Valley, California

Amy Spahr, co-owner of The Junkluggers of Greater Santa Clarita Valley, reminded us of this well-known piece of advice: “You need to work on your business, not in your business.”

“With a small business, there is tremendous pressure to keep things running and to help your crew get the job done efficiently and effectively while providing excellent service,” Spahr said. “The ‘secret’ to acquiring new business is to ensure you hire great people to work in your business, allowing you time to work on your business.”

The more reliable your workers are, the more you can delegate time-consuming tasks and focus on building your brand and marketing it in the best way possible.

Tap into local business community

Kari Valcich, owner of Blo Blow Dry Bar of Franklin Lakes and Jersey City, New Jersey, and Greenwich, Connecticut

Many business owners underestimate the power of their community — including other businesses.

“One of the best sources to [find] new customers is to tap into fellow local businesses and their client base as a way to cross-promote,” said Kari Valcich, owner of Blo Blow Dry Bar of Franklin Lakes, Greenwich and Jersey City.

Especially during trying times like amidst the pandemic, local businesses can find opportunities to collaborate and support each other.

“Networking and building relationships with other small business owners is an organic yet effective way to help each other out, brainstorm relevant promotional opportunities and ultimately find new customers,” Valcich said.

Encourage reviews

Jennifer Cook of Oxi Fresh Carpet Cleaning of Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

Reviews can make or break a business, as they help customers decide whether a product or service is worth their investment. As a business owner, find ways to encourage customers to leave reviews and ratings that properly reflect their experience with your brand.

“In today's market, the power of a recommendation from a fellow consumer cannot be overstated,” said Jennifer Cook of Oxi Fresh Carpet Cleaning of Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania. “These days, no one hires a service provider without checking them out online. That's why we focus on providing a phenomenal service and encouraging people to leave reviews on Google, Facebook, etc.”

Cook added that many people struggle asking for reviews, assuming they’re demanding too much from their customers. However, “reviews are absolutely worth the time, they're not an actual hassle for a happy customer and you'll [quickly] get over any awkwardness,” she said. “So put aside any shyness and just start asking!”

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published September 14, 2021