Need more clients? 10 key ways to attract more customers
- Be visible on Google. I am always surprised when a small business owner tells me they haven’t a website and they don’t do anything to get found on Google. In the pet care sector, I get about 5% of my clients through our busy, frequently updated Facebook page. If you need more clients the first thing to do is stop relying on one online application, like Facebook. I polled my clients recently and over 50% of them didn’t even use Facebook. If you are relying solely on a Facebook page to generate clients online, 50 % of your prospective clients wouldn’t be able to find you if they wanted to. Create a website, teach yourself some basic SEO and regularly update your content. This has the double whammy of creating extra value for your clients if you include articles, videos and other items of interest.
- Make sure you are listed on Google My Business, Google Places and so on. There are also many free listing sites when you can advertise: FreeIndex, Cylex, Thompson Local, TouchLocal, Scoot amongst many others. If you need more clients these websites have millions of visitors and exist to put businesses in touch with prospective customers.
- Create a vibrant, frequently updated Facebook page, or even better a group where you can really engage your clients and attract new ones. Facebook can prove valuable in generating clients, but it’s just one part of the whole.
- Foster word of mouth by making recommendation easy. One way to do this that worked for me was to give each new client half a dozen business cards at the booking visit. Ask that once they have experienced your services, they offer these freely to other friends who have dogs. Many people are willing to recommend a service they value themselves, but putting a card in someone’s hands inceases the likelihood they will ring you, as they already have the details. Most people understand that you will need more clients, and will be only too happy to help.
- Use your doggy friends and family to spread the news too. Many will be happy to help you by handing out cards to other dog owners, while they are walking their dogs. If you have staff, make sure you encourage them to do the same.
- Incentivise recommendation. Word of mouth is the most effective way of securing a new client, because you don’t need to convince a stranger of your excellence – someone else has done that for you. Anything that incentivises a recommendation is useful. This could be offering discount vouchers to clients if they introduce a friend, or having a mnthly staff bonus for the person who generates the most new clients.
- Add value. If you need more clients get out there and do something out of the ordinary to show prospective customers the kind of person you are. For instance, hand out treat bags in a local area that attracts a lot of walkers. Include information about your business, your online resources (great website, Facebook group etc) and encourage them to join you whether they are likely to need your services or not. They may turn out to be our best source of new clients.
- Co-operate with other local pet professionals. It’s great to create a reciprocal referral arrangement, that benefits both businesses. An example might be working with your vet, by supplying promotionl information, and agreeing to refer clients in both directions. Grooming salons, agility/flyball classes or other dog care providers (who offer different services to you) are all possibilities.
- Ask your current clients for online reviews and recommendations. Many people who don’t have a personal referral will look for social proof before deciding to use a company. Personal stories and accounts of how you have helped people, can be hosted on your website, and these can be more convincing that simply relying on 5 star reviews on Facebook.
- Feedback publicly. Let the world see what a great time the dogs have in your care. Video yourself and your co-workers at work, and let people experience how friendly and caring your are, how you handle the dogs and so on. Always get permission before posting videos that might be deemed sensitive (property, area, identifying dogs etc). Post these to your website and Facebook page/group.
Need more clients? What to leave out
In the clamour to find more clients, it’s easy to spend a lot of time and resources doing things that won’t have much impact, such as blanket leafleting. This kind of approach will include many people who would never be your client because they don’t have – and possibly don’t even like – dogs. You’d be very fortunate if one in a thousand leaflets met a prospective client at their point of need.
This should be the acid test for all publicity. Try asking:
- Will this help to get my message to the people who are actively looking for the serivces I offer?
- (If not) Will this get publicity material into the hands of people who own dogs and who do (or might) need the services I offer?
If the prospective client (let’s say, any dog owner) isn’t hearing from or about you at their point of need, then they need enough written information in their hands – and enough impact – to ensure that they remember you, should the need for your services ever arise.