1. Tell your friends and peers
When you are starting with a blank client list, the best place to start is to contact those who already know you. Even better if they know your work. The more people are aware of your business the more business opportunities. Ask them for feedback too so you can see things from a different perspective. Having a great network of friends around you is also essential to keep your sanity when the going gets tough and to celebrate those great successes as your little business grows!
2. Attend networking events
Go and talk to others. Talk less and listen more. Learn from others, exchange ideas and build relationships with like minded professionals and your potential clients. Nothing is more important in business than building and maintaining great relationships and listening out for what’s important to your clients.
3. Join a business meet up group
Become part of a regular meet up group and regularly connect with those who are in a similar situation as you. It will help you understand what you are doing well and what could be improved.
4. Ask for recommendations
Nothing sells better than trust. New clients are likely to buy from businesses who can prove themselves and having someone recommending you is a great way to demonstrate how good you are at what you do.
5. Join webinars
You won’t see actual faces, but if you are not a confident networking type, webinars are just what might work for you. You can learn and interact with others online, either via the phone or through chat rooms – not as personal as actual face to face events but a very effective networking tool.
6. Host events
If you have the time and enthusiasm, events are a great way to bring together a group of people you want to connect with. They are not as expensive as you might think and people will remember them. Great way to mix fun with business and getting to know your audience better.
7. Host webinars
What’s even better than joining webinars is to host your own. Again, not as complicated or expensive as you might think. You will need a decent software, an interesting topic and engaging speakers to make your webinar a success. If you are worried about low attendance rates, the good thing is that no one needs to know how many attendees you have online.
8. Attend awards
Awards are the place to be if you want to connect with those who matter in your industry. They are one big party – mostly with a lot of fizz and people celebrating their wins which makes networking much more fun. It’s a great way to learn about what success looks like and could be a great inspiration for your business to enter awards one day.
9. Reward repeat business
No doubt your clients are extremely important to you – and so they should know. Doing a great job is what makes them come back to you repeatedly, and when do, give them something extra so they know how valued they are. Little things can make a big difference so anything complimentary you can offer will be noticed and appreciated.
10. Recommend others
It’s a nice thing to do and will hopefully help those who you are recommending. In a same way, it gets your name out there. The ones who asked for recommendations are also very likely to recommend you back.
11. Partner up with other small businesses
Working with other small businesses and freelancers is a great way to promote your services and products. Be selective to ensure your values and focus align and start cross marketing each others services and products.
12. Speak at local and industry events
If you are a confident public speaker, consider speaking at an event attended by your target audience – it’s an effective way to raise your profile as a subject matter expert and to let others know about your business. Speaking at an event also comes with additional promotions run by the event organisers reaching new audiences you wouldn’t normally have access to.
13. Advertise in your local newspaper
Targeting your local community is another effective way to market your business. Research the local newspapers and contact journalists for potential coverage and advertising opportunities – many of the local press might be able to offer budget friendly or even free options.
14. Drop a leaflet in your local cafes and co-working spaces
Old school, but still works very well, especially if your business is B2C focused. Focus on simplicity and clear messaging, with all your relevant contact details – you might be able to create something yourself and get a few copies printed locally. Canva is a good place to start with if you are not a design pro.
15. Do something good for the community
Pick a cause that you care about and do something good. It will make you feel good but also help to show others that you care. Others you will choose to support will also surely tell others about what you did and so can you.
16. Sponsor a local event
Local events are a great place to build and maintain relationship with potential clients. Both, event sponsorship and attendance will bring you closer to your local target audience and help you understand what they care about.
17. Write for your local newspaper
If you have something interesting to write about, contact your local newspapers and pitch your ideas or alternatively get ideas on future topics from the local journalists.
18. Carry business cards
Invest in high quality business cards that reflect your branding and always carry a few with you. The more unusual and interesting, the better. If money allows, get yourself a nice card holder too.
19. Introduce special offers
Offer something special to get your clients’ interest – discounts, or even complimentary services and products if you can afford to.
20. Use giveaways
Direct marketing can be more memorable and effective than digital – one, because it is no longer that common and two, if you get it right it will be kept for a long time and remind the recipients about your business every time they see and use it.
21. Pick up the phone
Nothing is more effective than picking up the phone and having an actual conversation. Follow up on your campaigns and ask for meetings – in worst case you will get a NO which isn’t any worse than not knowing at all!
22. Build a high quality SEO friendly website
Your website is what represents your business online. Create one that you are proud of and focus on driving traffic to it. Invest time and money into SEO – otherwise no one will ever find it!
23. Start a blog
Regular blogging will not only increase your web traffic, but will allow you to demonstrate that you know what you are talking about. If successful, your blogs can not only be read but also re-shared opening up an endless pool of potential clients.
24. Write guest blogs
Expand your reach by guest blogging elsewhere – offer valuable advice that can be published on other sites and benefit from the extended reach that they bring.
25. Join online forums
Join the conversation online – provide relevant and insightful advice and avoid selling.
26. Pay per click advertising
If your website is brand new, pay per click advertising can be a very helpful tool to make your business’ website visible on the front search pages. It could get a little expensive so take the time to think about specific search words and budget.
27. Create a professional email signature
Very simple, yet very effective if you think about how many emails you send every day. Use your signature to highlight any relevant contact details, link it to your website and keep it up to date.
28. Invest in an email address with your domain name
Buy a professional email address, no matter how little your business is. There are many options and it’s really not that expensive. You are a proper business so you need a proper email address!
29. Send out a regular e-newsletter
Send out regular newsletters highlighting anything that you want your readers to know about. Include links to your website and your social media accounts and make it pretty and interesting so people would only want to open and read it but also forward to others.
30. Conduct online surveys
Find out about what your clients think, want and need. Conducting the survey gives you a reason to contact your audience and so do the results.
31. Send out a downloadable e-paper
This is another great way to demonstrate your expertise and give your audience something of value that they can keep and learn from.
32. Set up relevant social media profiles
Don’t just create a profile – take the time to set up all relevant platforms using consistent messaging, look and feel and contact details.
33. Share content on social media
Post regular updates sharing valuable content – avoid spamming and focus on quality over high frequency of updates.
34. Connect with others on social media
Search for people and businesses that you would want hear from on regular basis and connect with them or follow them. The more people you follow the more people are likely to follow you back.
35. Advertise on social media
If budget allows, consider advertising on social media. Same as PPC advertising it can get expensive and there are often limited measures in place so do your detailed research before spending too much money on it.
36. Use discovery engines to boost your traffic
Discovery engines find and recommend web content to online users. Having your site and content listed is increasing the chances of your site having better visibility and higher traffic.
37. Link your social media to your website and vice versa
Have clear links to your social media so you build your follower base and make sure your website link is visible on each of your profiles. Just remember that social media platforms are the route to your business and not the end destination, so be sure to use them as a way to get to your website.
38. Create and promote a variety of content
Be innovative on your content – consider written content, visuals, videos, podcasts, infographics. The more varied your content, the more you can expand your social media marketing.
39. Send out a press release
If there is news worth sharing that you think could be relevant to the press, write and send out a press release to all of your press contacts and publish it on your website.
40. Learn to tag
Tagging helps search engines to pick up your content so think about the most relevant words your clients will use in order to find you.
41. Build a database
Once you established your business online start focusing on building a database of contacts – offer a newsletter subscription, use gated content, capture your social media followers or build your list through prospecting.
42. Send out regular email campaigns
As your database grows, consider sending regular email campaigns on a variety of topics to remind your audience of your business.
43. Use competitions to generate interest
Have a think about possible giveaways and interactions that are relevant to your business. Doesn’t matter how small the competition is, as long as there is something interesting worth competing for.
44. Look at freelancing opportunities
There are more opportunities for freelancers than ever before. Have a look at Freelancer, PeoplePerHour or Upwork. It will also help you to find inspiration for additional projects to add to your portfolio.
45 . Attend a trade show
Have a wander around relevant trade shows and see what’s out there. The likelihood is that you will have conversations with delegates and exhibitors and you will learn something new.
46. Use video
Leverage the reach of YouTube and create short videos to share with your audience. If you can identify and create “how to” guides or anything similar that can be helpful for others, you are likely to generate a lot of interest.
47. Ask for feedback
Ask your existing customers for feedback on what your did well and focus on repeating the success scenario. Not only will this help you to drive new business but also strengthen the relationships with your existing clients.
48. Learn about SEO
SEO is important for your website, but also for any social media interactions. Keep up with the trends and look out for ongoing improvements.
49 . Use case studies
Write up the success stories to date and use them as a foundation for your marketing campaigns. Doesn’t matter if you can’t use your client’s name. Everyone loves a good story – so share yours.
50. Ask for testimonials
Use your happy clients to promote your business by asking them for testimonials. There is nothing better to prove your skills that having a satisfied customer telling everyone else.