Growing your business means selling more, serving more, making more—in other words, constantly increasing demand for your goods and services. But when you’re a solo hustler, finding the customers to increase your demand is one more task that can seem insurmountable.
It doesn’t need to be daunting. Once you have a handful of the right customers, you’re likely to find that momentum starts to pick up and new channels for finding customers become available. So let’s talk about what the right customer is, and how to find more of them.
What is the right customer?
Anyone who is interested in your services or what you’re selling is the right customer… right? Not necessarily. Any business owner can share horror stories of customers who drained time, made them lose money, or otherwise just weren’t as profitable as hoped. There are simple ways to steer your search in the best direction.
Look at your current customers
Start by taking a look at your current customers and do some analysis:
- What are common characteristics? Mostly a particular gender, age, or other identifiable group?
- What industries are they in and what level of income are they making?
- Which customers would you rather not work with again? What do they have in common?
Now look even closer. How did these customers find you? What are their goals?
- What keywords did they search to reach your website or social media channels?
- What devices do they mostly use?
- Thinking of your initial conversations with them, what did they identify as pain points or goals? Why did they reach out to you?
Construct your ideal customer profile
Using what you learned, pair this with your own goals for your business. What do you enjoy doing most? How are you different from your competitors? Line these up with your customers’ goals.
For example, if you run a personal training business, maybe you’ll find that your most profitable customers are brides-to-be who are seeking to lose weight for wedding attire. If you run a photography business, you might specialize in adorable newborn photos. If you run a pet grooming business, maybe you are one of the few providers in your area with the tools and equipment to manage giant breed dogs.
Where can you find your ideal customers?
Start with your base
You used current customers to identify the type of customer you’d like to gain. Start with those same customers to find more.
- Offering referral discounts is a great way to encourage your customers to share your services with friends, family, and colleagues.
- Encourage customers to leave reviews on Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, or even sites such as Capterra. If you sell on Amazon, reviews can be an important part of the algorithm that returns your products at the top of search results.
Go where your customers found you
If the majority of your current customers found you via LinkedIn, it stands to reason that more customers like them are out there as well.
Paid ads on social media are a great tool to find similar audiences. Most of these channels allow you to target audiences by geographical area, gender, industry, interaction with other ads, and more. Using your ideal customer profile, experiment with building different lists to see which make the most impact.
People like to hear from others like them
As much as possible, take the time to gather customer stories—who they are, what problems they were trying to solve, how your business helped them. Then turn around and target that content towards potential customers with similar profiles.
- Run paid ads highlighting a great customer story in the same geographic region and for the same industry.
- Ask for industry and other delineating data from current customers, or on forms for prospective customers. Use that data to create specific social media and/or email campaigns and target them with content about similar current customers.
Watch your competitors
If they are following the same tactics, you’ll see plenty of content about their current customers on their social media channels or through their email campaigns.
- Subscribe to their blogs. Fill out forms (it’s ok to use another email address!). Use their content to generate ideas about how to reach your own customers.
- Keep an eye out for trends in their current customers that might be missing from your’s. Maybe you’ve overlooked a new target market that fits your unique niche.
Show up where your customers are
You can’t just rely on social media or digital campaigns. Find out where your customers like to be. What associations do they join? What kind of trade shows or community events do they frequent? As much as possible, find ways to connect with them that show you value the same things they do. Sponsor and volunteer at the events where they’ll be. Ideally you can use these as opportunities to show off your products or demonstrate your services, but even just getting name recognition can help you reach new prospects.