The best way to find new clients is to keep trying new methods and find what works for you.
Are you still looking for ways to grow your business within the New Year? Any service-based business runs the risk of being a little feast or famine. But the good news is there are more tools out there than ever for you to find new clients. Many are effective whether you are a b2b or b2c business.
The goal is to find the right combination that works for you. If you diversify your strategies for finding work, when one stream dries up, it’s possible to lean harder on the others. Overdependence can create problems down the road.
Below are some of the methods to find new clients that I’ve tried at some point or another. Maybe you can find a way to take, and adopt for your own situation.
Get to Know Your Power Partners
Last year I found myself in a situation where I needed to re-grow my freelance business as quickly as possible. I didn’t have the luxury of waiting for leads to roll back in my direction. I needed to go out and find them, and fast. I needed to be reaching out to my power partners, the people who have a steady stream of potential clients.
For me, that partner is marketing agencies. So I went on a research mission. I opened up an Excel document and I started collecting the contact information for advertising and marketing agencies in Chicago. I chose Chicago because it seemed natural to start in my local area. But really, this could be expanded to agencies located anywhere.
I kept collecting. Over the course of several months, the list grew to about 1,000 agencies. I know I probably could have bought software that would have saved me hours, but I wanted a familiarity with the list, and I wanted to be able to trust the quality of it – so I did it myself. You probably could scrape the information much more quickly, but I wouldn’t be as familiar with how to do that.
I began reaching out. I created an email template and sent it out on a regular basis.
The numbers can seem discouraging, but sometimes you need to hear “no” a hundred times to find the right “yes.” And in my line of work particularly, you really only need a handful of clients to begin building a business.
This became my trusted method, and my way to control the game. This list accounted for thousands of dollars worth of income over the course of the year. When you’re looking to make things happen, you can’t beat this method to find new clients.
Website and Blogging
Your website is the central hub for all things marketing. There are no 140 character limits on your message, and you are not setting up your page in accordance with someone else’s usage terms – like any social media page.
You set the rules, and you have as much space as needed to convey your message. Your website and blog are the best digital marketing tools at your disposal when it comes time to find new clients.
When it comes to setting up your website, structure and content matter. A layout your audience can get used to will help them find the information they are looking for, and increase their chances of conversion. Make sure you have an accessible about page, services pages, and a contact page.
Clear descriptions of your products and services, and content aimed at solving your customers’ problems can set your page content apart in a meaningful way.
But that’s not enough any more. An on-site blog is needed to help build a complete experience for your customer base. Potential clients have questions. They’re not just Googling for your business, they’re Googling their questions.
Your blog post can show up in their search results. It can be what they find in their social media feeds. It can help them to think of you next time they need help. Your blog does many, many things. It builds credibility and trust. It provides the kind of content that is needed to land your business in the search results. It is really the ultimate marketing tool for your business.
If you blog consistently, it’s not unusual to start receiving emails for potential leads. You’ll probably want to learn a little bit about basic search engine optimization. You’ll probably want to learn a little bit about the type of content your clients are looking for. You’ll want to establish realistic content goals. But this can be a great way to find new clients who otherwise wouldn’t know you existed.
Content Syndication and Social Media
I’ve had clients reach out to me because they saw my posts on the websites that pick it up. Content syndication and publishing on places like Business2Community, LinkedIn and Medium help tremendously.
It puts your content in front of interested potential clients who otherwise would never have seen your writing. I recently just finished a hefty project for a client in Australia who found me through some syndicated blog posts. I’ve also taken part in others’ marketing projects because of this.
Content syndication allows readers to see your content, and offers them the option of returning to your website. Some sites automatically pick up your blog posts through their RSS feed, and others require you to post your work manually. Either way, it’s a great method to find new clients.
Social media also offers you the chance to take part in new conversations, build your brand and create exposure. Facebook and LinkedIn groups offer an easy in with people who have shared interests.
Twitter’s search function allows you to treat the platform like a search engine. I’ve actually found clients by searching “I need a copywriter.” That search pulled up all who have mentioned that phrase within recent days.
Social media also offers you the opportunity to share helpful information. It offers you the chance to improve your status as a thought leader within your industry. Sharing industry-related content on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and LinkedIn is a great way to increase your exposure and find new work.
Another way to find new clients is to try out some bidding sites. There are a variety of sites out there, where potential clients post their job, and you compete for the work.
A few examples include Freelancer.com, Thumbtack.com, 99 Designs, and many more.
I’ve used Thumbtack, and gotten some results. The problem is that many of the potential clients posting their job on the website are evaluating the competing businesses based on nothing but cost. This puts you in the position of needing to underbid in order to have success on the site. You may end up working for less than you are worth, or not at all.
In person networking is one of the more popular ways for businesses to find new clients. I’ve been a part of a wide variety of networking groups over the years, many with different purposes.
Some are masterminds, and meant more as some type of educational outlet. Others are more sales-oriented, and designed so that the members can help each other grow in the business community.
The value of networking really depends on how good you are at representing your business in person, and the value of the group. If you are a natural sales person, this can be an effective method.
If you’re looking specifically to find new clients from networking, a leads group may end up the most lucrative route.
Networking is more about building up your list of potential contacts than using “hard sell” methods. This can seem unnatural for people with a strong urge to sell and promote their business.
Another difficulty with networking is it is not the easiest to measure its effectiveness. You may walk out of a meeting disappointed that you didn’t land a big job. But maybe you’ll hear from a new contact six months down the road as they need your help on a project.
In other words, the gains made by networking may not be immediate – making it hard to put an immediate value on it.
There are a number of ways to find new clients. A marketing copywriter can help you develop more reliable materials in your quest to find new clients.
These are just a few of the ways that have worked for me. I’d be curious to hear what’s worked for you. Let me know in the comments.
Matt Brennan is a Chicago area marketing writer and copy editor. He is also the author of Write Right-Sell Now: How to Create Content That Grows Your Business.