By Colin Walker
Running a business is a constant work in progress. It takes an ongoing commitment to product and service innovation and dedication to building a happy, engaged group of customers and clients…including continuing to attract new ones into the pipeline.
- But for smaller businesses with limited resources, what’s the most effective way to do that?
- How can businesses be smart about generating leads with limited time and budgets?
- And when’s the best time to ask existing clients for referrals?
These are the kinds of questions our Business Development Managers are often asked by their clients and they’re all valid. So we’ve put together our best advice to get creative and attract new leads efficiently and effectively into your business.
Think individual, unique, different
In a competitive marketplace, standing out from the crowd will help you win the race. Think beyond the usual referral stands, end-of-month SMS blasts and discounts on corporate memberships etc. Get creative because people become immune to the mundane!
Try before you buy!
Allow potential clients and customers to try you out before they commit—maybe it’s a free class, trial lesson, or access to the services/facilities for a day. Be sure to make the completion of a sign-in form a key part of the process so you can follow up with them later.
Make referrals worth it for your current customers
Reward your customers and clients for referrals. Perhaps they can bring a friend for free so it’s fun for them, or maybe they get an added benefit or discount for the referral.
Expand your service offering to extend your reach
Think about your current service. Is there a way to expand or extend it to reach a slightly different audience? You might be able to add on another layer of service and charge a little more in the process.
Treat your current clients & customers well
If your current clients are happy, they’re more likely to recommend you without even having to ask. Keep your customer service levels high, so you’ll essentially be looking for new qualified leads to grow the business, not replace lost business.
Ask for referrals at the right time
Timing is everything. Definitely ask clients with whom you share a good rapport for a referral. But when a client is new to the business, give them time to settle in and experience the service. Make a point of following up with them to check that the service is meeting expectation, and if it is, don’t rush the referral question. Schedule a time to follow up again and if the response is still positive, try then.
Give back to the community
Get involved with the local community and try to think of opportunities for a win-win. Can you donate a prize to your local school’s fete or fundraiser? Offer free lessons, sessions, passes etc.? Could you drive the fundraiser yourself, take down names and phone numbers and in addition to the major prize, offer all entrants a free pass? Just make sure you’re not pushy in your approach as you’re more likely to turn a potential customer off in the process.