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Best ways to find prospects for small businesses

Creating a business, even a small one, comes with numerous challenges as well as benefits, but between purchasing a building, creating a realistic business plan, and hiring employees, sometimes advertising and bringing in clients can slip between the cracks at the start of a small business.

Money must be managed carefully and efficiently in small businesses, especially brand new ones. While hiring an advertising or marketing consultant can get you the publicity you need, the cost can sometimes be too much for a brand new business. There are plenty of steps that an employer or even a driven employee can take to appeal to prospective clients on their own without having to ruin the budget for private help at the very beginning. If you still find your business struggling for work, then consider seeking professional help.

Frequently businesses feel the need to advertise to the masses, thinking that more advertisement inherently means more business, but remember to work smarter not harder.

Don’t waste precious time and money advertising to the masses when it might only be the minorities who care. Identify what the ideal client or consumer for your business would be, and then figure out how to appeal to them.

According to the National Federation of Independent Business, one of the key elements in appealing to prospects is creating a client profile listing what your existing clients have in common, and then marketing towards people or companies that meet those criteria.  Come up with a marketing plan for what kinds of people will be most likely to use your services, and how to access those people, and then advertise where it matters.

Trade shows, fairs, and teaming up with other businesses to work together are also other great ways to meet prospective clients as well as keep them involved. Collect business cards and hold a raffle with them so that you can get information about prospects and expand your contact list while also keeping them involved and giving them something to remember your business by.

Small Business Administration mentions how simply “word of the mouth” advertising, referrals, and networking can do for a business. Listed as #1 on their list of gaining customers, they describe “Asking for Referrals” as “one of the best ways to get new customers.” However, they recommend creating a system for soliciting referrals from satisfied customers, such as asking for referrals or feedback at the end of the buying process and have any sales workers ask for referrals on the phone.  Once you’ve found the niche where your business thrives, satisfied customers will recommend you to others, giving you a gateway even further into different communities.

Additionally, although not as prominent due to the current coronavirus pandemic, creating and participating in events was a massive market builder. Most people enjoy supporting independent businesses in their communities, especially if your business is contributing to the community in a positive way. Offer some services for discounted prices or for free to get your name circulating in the community, or get involved with local charities, as well as creating your own events featuring deals for bringing in new customers.

Finally, contacting and following up with your contacts is a must. Although there may be a lot of “no”s, a lot of organizations may just mean “no for now”, and they may need your service or product later.  The key is to remind your contacts that you’re there and still care about their business without being annoying to the point of them unsubscribing or asking to be taken off the contact list. Creating an email list to send out deals or check-ins every few weeks or having an agreement to call in six months to check-in in the future.

There are many straightforward ways and systems to search out and gain clients as a small business, but overall knowing your market and knowing your business and what you believe in is key. While there may be a lot of “no”s for the time being, as long as you believe in what you are trying to market, your efforts will be sincere and pay off, one referral, business card, or email at a time.