It may seem strange for someone whose livelihood depends on delivering services online to suggest finding your next client in the “real world”. The truth is that when you communicate with clients via email most of the time, it’s really easy to forget that there are real people behind those “@” symbols.
Yet they’re all around you – the small business owners, families, and people who need what you’re offering. So whether you are a digital freelancer, an entrepreneur with a bricks-and-mortar business, or a SaaS startup with a shoestring marketing budget, here are seven places to find your client…offline.
1. Businesses targeting YOUR market
Take a look around your neighborhood. Which business complements your own? It’s easy to forget that our customers also fit the demographic of other businesses.
Introduce yourself to the owner of the business, and offer a free or heavily discounted product or service to this business’s customers either by mailing an insert with their invoice, as a direct mailing, or through coupons handed out with receipts.
This is called Host Beneficiary Marketing. Your business benefits by gaining access to an established client base. The client benefits by getting a great deal or free item. And the host business benefits by offering a perk to their existing customers at no cost to themselves.
2. Local service providers and professionals
Think about the local service providers that YOU use. These professionals offer trusted opinions to others, and are often influential people in your community. Impress your doctor, lawyer, accountant, dentist, banker, or minister and they may refer you to the many people they meet with each day.
3. New business workshops or seminars
Workshops and seminars are great places to find new clients, especially in the B2B market. Participants need a variety of services to get their businesses off the ground, and if they’ve received start-up funding they are eager to spend it.
Can you post a notice on a bulletin board outside a classroom? Get in touch with the workshop administrators and offer to do a short presentation to the class on some aspect of your business.
4. Your local business supply store
If you’re a digital creative, freelancer, or service provider targeting small to medium-sized businesses, hit your local business supply store. Chances are that at some point your potential clients are going to need printer cartridges or possibly a pen (who still takes notes with a pen and paper?)
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Check it out – is there a bulletin board in the entrance? If so, add your print marketing material here (make it BOLD though – use neon yellow paper, for example). If you’re really brave, ask if you can leave a stack of business cards at the checkout. You never know….
5. Your area contractors
Think I’m joking? I’m not.
Contractors, such as construction companies, electricians, plumbers, and sign installation outfitters that work with local businesses know who is launching a new business and who is upgrading and renovating.
When businesses are starting out or expanding, excitement is high. This is a good time for them to invest in a new website and/or upgrade technological services. Freelance writers, web designers, and developers, as well as SaaS or IaaS providers can get great leads from cozying up to your local contractors.
6. Neighborhood real world hangouts
Potential customers are literally all around you. At the grocery store, the gym, the coffee shop, the park where your kids play and your dog romps. And don’t forget your local business lunch hot spot or after work watering hole. Remember, you are your best advertisement. Talk to people. Promote your business everywhere you go.
7. Finding your next client from your existing clients
Your existing clients are often the best way to find new clients.
Remind satisfied customers to share their recommendations with a line on your business cards and email signature that says something like “Recommending our services to your friends and family is the highest compliment you can give us.” Reward referrals with a small gift or coupon to redeem on their next visit.
Potential new clients for digital businesses are in all sorts of places offline.Give some of these suggestions a try. Find the methods that work best for you, include them in your daily or weekly routine, and watch your business grow.
Where is the strangest place you found a new client? Let me know in the comments below.
Original image via graphicstock