You need more customers, yet the traditional avenues you’ve been using just aren’t delivering as many as you’d like. Tweeting and publishing articles in online directories may bring the occasional lead, and those leads sometimes do turn into customers. But publishing enough articles to get more than a trickle is a lot of work, and you’re starting to have doubts about the effectiveness of that approach.
Another option, submitting press releases, also works to some degree, but it generally just bring in a few leads at a time, unless you hit the jackpot and get covered in the national media.
Naturally, an occasional lead here and there isn’t enough to create a thriving business. You need lots of leads, and targeted leads at that. And you need them fast. But how can you get them?
One way to get leads quickly is paid advertising. However, unless you have plenty of experience and really deep pockets, experimenting with pay-per-click and Facebook advertising can leave you broke faster than you can say, “What the heck!”
Meeting customers and prospects in person gives an added dimension to the relationship. Many people come to the online world with a certain level of skepticism, almost like they’re expecting to be ripped off. But if they have met you in person, you’ve broken through that barrier of distrust and you’re that much closer to the coveted “know-like-trust” triumvirate that makes for great customer relationships. Here are five ways to find customers in “the real world:
- Teach a class in your field. What better way to reassure people of your likeability and trust quotient than by teaching them valuable skills face-to-face? Local recreation departments, chambers of commerce, senior centers, continuing education programs, gyms, churches, Jewish community centers and similar venues offer ample opportunities for you to strut your stuff. You can teach a one-evening seminar or an ongoing class – just make sure to pass out business cards, collect contact information, and follow up!
- Take a class in your field. You may think you need to TEACH a class to make valuable contacts but that’s not the case. Taking a class in your area of expertise can actually give you more time to network and connect with other students. Make sure to circulate before and after class, handing out business cards and meeting as many people as you can. Follow up after class too. You could organize a post-class get-together to discuss what you’ve learned, or spearhead an email list where you can continue to share ideas and build relationships.
- Attend lectures and seminars. I recently received a mailing from my alma mater regarding a two-day leadership symposium. My immediate thought – what a great opportunity for a high-level executive coach! He or she could attend and get exposure to hundreds of professionals with a strong interest in leadership – a pre-qualified collection of leads! Whatever your field, make sure you’re attending industry events not just for the information, but for the opportunity to connect with possible leads as well.
- Identify your competitors, and go where they are. Who are your competitors, and where do they “live?” If you’re in the fitness field, your competitors will be personal trainers at gyms. They probably frequent health food/vitamin and supplement stores, athletic shoe stores, and gyms. What if you posted a few of your cards on the bulletin board at the running shoe store, or handed them out at the finish line of a foot race? Picking off some of your competitors’ customers isn’t mean, it’s smart marketing.
- Go to trade shows. You don’t have to pay exorbitant fees to exhibit at trade shows in order to take advantage of the traffic. Go as an attendee and strike up conversations with other attendees, exhibitors, and workers. Hand out those cards, and have an upcoming event to tell your new friends about. Walk the floor and “work it” as much as you would if you were exhibiting. You’ll have more freedom, and more money left in your pocket at the end of the day.
The whole secret of attending in-person events is to determine where your ideal prospects may be, and be where they already are. They’re ready for you – you just have to find them.