Finding Customers is the toughest job
The toughest challenge facing any small business is finding customers. That’s it. The big one. A lot of us skate around it and rarely discuss it but its a challenge we all face. We ask ourselves questions like :
- What if the work is not out there?
- We are on the wrong track clearly – nothing we do is working
- Our competitors must be getting repeat business from existing clients – there really is no new work out there
- There is something wrong in our business – let’s change loads of things at once
People who are new to business might agonise over their business name; the look of their logo; how their website looks and feels; whether or not they need business cards (and whether cards could double up as marketing material); whether to register for VAT or not when they don’t need to. This is to avoid the big thing you need to look at.
Sweating the small stuff
This is all the small stuff. All the stuff about branding, look and feel and all the rest needs to be in perspective. All of these things are peripheral, because you don’t have a functioning business until you have paying customers. Paying customers are those who pay a price that contributes to business sustainability, not the ‘special deal’ customers that some people offer to entice random customers into making a purchase.
Special Deal Customers can be expensive mistakes
Special deal customers are quite often, unknowingly, employing slave labour, because the temptation is to offer a deal that covers your operating costs but not your time. This is the ‘slave’ part because you’re working for free. Even in the darkest days of slavery there was food and a roof provided, so you may need to think of yourself as less than a slave because you still have to pay for those. STOP! You can discount products you already have but you cannot and should not discount your most valuable resource – your time.
Here’s the thing about special deals. Nobody values that which they don’t pay for and you’ve given out the ‘I’m desperate’ message, so as a model to build your business it’s a non-starter and you may as well lie in bed for a few hours extra and recharge your batteries. This is suggested because without sleep you are guaranteed to make some really crap decisions.
Seeking out customers
Finding customers is a tough process, but let’s take things back to pre-internet, even to pre-TV and radio advertising. Although most are now slim shadows of what they once were, many towns used to have busy markets where you could buy almost anything from darning needles to live chickens.
Market traders were a shrewd bunch and could spot a buying signal from yards away. They were also very, very loud. It didn’t matter what they were selling – fruit and vegetables, cushions, home-brew kits, men’s shirts, super-sharp knives – they spent the day belting out a marketing message at top volume, including ‘another happy customer’ at the end of every transaction.
The scary stuff
Fast-forward to now. ‘Making noise’ is an accepted part of marketing, but the noise is more often visual than audible. You have to get the visuals right though, because here are a few scary statistics:
|Percentage of page views that last less than 4 seconds
|Percentage of page views that last more than 10 minutes
|Percentage of words read on web pages with 111 words or less
|Percentage of words read on an average (593 words) web page
Almost a fifth of page views last less than four seconds.
Only 1 in 25 views last longer than 10 minutes (if you factor in people following a recipe online that won’t leave many others).
If you have less than 112 words on the page the average number that visitors read will be 55.
If you have 593 words on your page the average number that visitors read will be 166.
These are stats about people who must be looking for what’s being offered on the websites they visit, so it’s pretty obvious that you have to capture them with visual content and have punchy and compelling text up front.
There are other ways of getting people’s attention online. We’ll be examining alignment strategies in a future blog. But, let’s get really radical here. You do not need to spend lots of money to get noticed, you just need to up your game and work smarter not harder. That will mean you work super focused for less hours rather than drifting about on the web looking for the magic tool which allows you to speed up stuff which should and does take time. How do you do this? Focus on one or two channels to bring in interest and enquiries and go in deep. If you are starting out and have no cash to pay for ads then get into social media – groups, commenting, engaging, being nice, being you, talking sense about life and business. Get noticed, get clients, that’s how it works.
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