You being here, reading this, means you probably don’t have the vast ad budget you’d like to have.
Luckily, you don’t need it.
Even if your company is still a small startup, there are effective ways to get new customers without spending big bucks. Instead, invest your time.
Here are 5 free ways to get new customers for your startup TODAY.
1. Cold emailing your prospects.
When your company isn’t well known, get the ball rolling with old-school sales tactics.
But even for established companies, reaching out to a cold audience can be highly lucrative.
It’s a numbers game, though. Be prepared to face many rejections.
How to get new customers by cold emailing (or cold messaging).
1. Find leads.
Create a spreadsheet of companies you want as customers. Aim for 100 rows in your spreadsheet.
2. Find the leads’ contact details.
Find the email addresses (or social media profiles) of the people in charge at your prospect companies. Search on LinkedIn or use a tool like Hunter.io. Add the contact information to your spreadsheet.
3. Create a messaging template.
You don’t have time to write a completely new email for each one of your prospects. But personalization in the email shows them that you’ve done your homework, so you don’t just want to copy-paste the same message over and over. You need a template that you can customize quickly for every prospect.
For example, add three bullet points about the benefits your product or service offers for each prospect. Not generic benefits. Personalized ones. Address the person you’re writing to by name and mention their company in your copy.
You’ll have to make those adaptations for every email you send. In turn, you’ll have a higher chance of getting a reply. Try to find the right balance where you don’t spend too long on one email, but still maintain some personalization.
4. Customize and hit the send button.
Once you have your template, get a cup of coffee, and sit down at your desk. Open your list and start writing your emails based on your template and your research.
When you get few replies — and/or even mean ones — don’t get discouraged. It’s part of the game, remember?
Keep your fingers on the keyboard.
5. Improve your template.
Always make small adaptations in your message template. Test different angles, subject lines, and images. Some approaches work better than others.
Keep improving your template with every message you send.
2. Cold calling your prospects.
For some companies, cold emails don’t do the trick. It depends on your product and your audience. If cold emailing isn’t effective for you, grab your phone and start dialing.
How to get new customers by cold calling.
1. Find leads.
Just as with cold emailing, you start by making a spreadsheet of companies you want as clients. Aim for 100 rows in your spreadsheet.
2. Find your leads’ contact details.
Find the phone numbers of the decision-makers at your prospect companies. If possible, find their direct phone number to bypass secretaries. Search the company’s website, the people’s private social media accounts, and online phone books. Add the contact information to the spreadsheet.
3. Create a script.
When you have your prospect on the phone, your mind can’t go blank. That’s why you need a script. On this script should be:
- Your introduction. A smooth start is important. Introduce yourself and tell them why you’re calling. Ask them if they can spare a minute or two of their time. Never try to dupe them into listening to your pitch.
- Your pitch. Introduce your product in less than a minute and in a way that makes your prospect want to buy.
- Your top selling points. What are the strongest features of your offer? What are the benefits for your prospect?
- Your price. Know your offer in detail. They may ask for discounts or special offers, and you don’t want to stutter if they do.
- Possible objections. Most people won’t buy without questions. They have objections like “But we already have a similar product.” or “How would I know that this really works?” This shouldn’t throw you off. Have a plan to disarm objections or arrange follow-ups.
- Questions to ask. If you need more information about your prospect and their business, ask them as early as possible. It makes you look prepared and well-organized.
4. Start calling.
Once you have your script ready, get a cup of coffee, and sit down at your desk. Open your list and start dialing.
When most people say no or even hang up on you, don’t get discouraged. Just like with cold emailing, rejection is part of the game, remember?
Keep your phone to your ear.
5. Improve your script.
Always make small adaptations in your script. Test different angles, subject lines, and selling points. Some approaches work better than others.
Make sure you take notes to help you remember the reactions you got. Jot down interesting details about the people you speak to, their company, products, challenges, and objections. This helps you to establish and maintain a relationship with them.
Keep improving your script with every call you make.
3. Content marketing.
You have developed a product that solves one or more problems.
Before someone can use your product as a solution, they have to learn it exists.
If you face a problem, what do you do? The answer for most of us is: search the web.
Sometimes you need a video that shows you how to do something. Then you go to YouTube. Sometimes you need an article like this one to guide you. Then you go to Google. Sometimes you want to listen to a podcast that talks about your problem. Then you go to a podcast streaming service. You consume content.
When people read your article, watch your videos, or listen to your podcast, they learn about you and your product. Over time, you become their go-to expert in that field.
How to produce great content that attracts new customers.
1. Know your persona.
A persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer. It’s the one person you are creating your content for.
To create this persona, use HubSpot’s persona creator tool. It’ll guide you through the process.
2. Know what problem you’re solving.
Your product has a purpose. Have you mapped it out clearly? How does it help your persona achieve their goals?
If you aren’t sure, work with the Value Proposition Canvas to find out.
3. Find out where and how your persona would search for solutions.
You won’t be able to cover all platforms and content formats. But that’s okay. Your persona doesn’t use all of them either.
Is your persona a Twitter person? A Facebook person? Do they just google their problems and don’t have social media? Are they searching YouTube for answers?
Once you’ve figured out where they search for solutions to their problems, you need to know how they search. Find out what words or sentences they would type in the search bar.
4. Create your content.
Create your content according to your research. Answer the questions they are typing in the search bars with your content. Make it detailed. The more detailed your content is, the more value you can pack into it. The more value you bring to the table, the more you get read by prospects and liked by search engines.
Make your content shareable. Include statistics or findings. If they are original, even better! Your audience should benefit from sharing your content with their network. Valuable content can be used to create an appealing infographic, for instance.
Almost all businesses invest in content creation. To be seen, you have to publish regularly. It’s not enough to bring out one new video or blog post every few months. Aim for at least weekly publication. There is no upper limit, though, as long as you can say something interesting.
5. Publish and promote your content.
Once you finish your piece, get it out there. After posting it, share it via social media and send a message to your email list.
6. Keep analyzing and improving your content.
After a week, check back to see how your content is doing using Google Analytics. Is it getting read or watched? Are people commenting on it? Are they sharing it?
Use your analysis to improve your content creation skills. Create better content with every piece — and update already published content regularly.
4. Expand your network.
Even if you dislike networking, don’t skip it. Meeting new people, be it potential business partners, investors, or customers, is key to your startup’s success.
5. Word of mouth.
No other form of marketing is as potent as word of mouth. Especially when the word comes from a mouth others trust, like friends and business partners.
You can earn that, but you can’t force it.
Test, analyze, improve, start over.
Whatever method you go with, make sure to test various approaches and angles. The more you know about what works and what doesn’t, the more effectively you’re using your time and the more new customers you find.
With rigorous testing comes meticulous tracking and analyzing. Store your results where you can easily find and access them. You don’t want to spend your time testing an approach more than once.
What sets the successful entrepreneurs apart from the unsuccessful ones is and will always be their drive. If you read article after article, but you don’t take action, you will fail. If you take action, you will win.
Don’t wait. Start right away and get in touch with your customers to be. And don’t forget to implement, test, analyze and improve your approach.