Making a new friend is much easier than making a new client. If you need a friend, just walk up to any stranger, offer to buy them a coffee and go from there, no strings attached. That would work on me. Just saying.
Business relationships, on the other hand, are full of strings, and a friendly approach isn’t enough. After all, this isn’t just friendship. It’s business, and there’s a lot on the line.
How do you convince someone to trust you with their money, and potentially the future of their own company? There’s no clear-cut path to building your customer base, but there are some universal tips you can use to expand your client list. To start, here are seven steps to help you find more clients:
1. Establish your client base
It sounds counterintuitive to narrow your focus when you want to broaden your client base, but finding your niche is key to expanding your business. Before you can diversify your services, you first need to do one service really well.
This holds true for pleasing clients, as well. Figure out what demographic needs your service or product the most, and target that demographic. Start by creating marketing personas, so you know the types of clients you’ll likely be working with, and cater your business and marketing efforts to them.
It’s important to start small, home in on your target audience and build a strong reputation among initial clients.
2. Ask for feedback
Speaking of reputation, ask for feedback from previous clients to figure out your strengths and weaknesses. Clients will appreciate this follow-up as a means of touching base, and their feedback will help you identify any problem areas, as well as your company’s greatest strengths.
As part of the feedback process, ask clients if they are comfortable giving a testimonial that you can then feature on your website to humanize your brand. Eighty-eight percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, so let your past clients encourage potential buyers to join your client list.
3. Share your knowledge
No one likes giving things away for free. After all the time and money you spent creating your product or service, you know how much it’s worth, and it can sting to just give it away.
Even though it doesn’t sound appealing at first, offering free trials or access to specific resources is a great way to get clients in the door and can give you major payoffs in the long run.
If your clients work with UI designers, for instance, offer them insights on how to interview UI designers or information on what great UI portfolios look like. This gives potential clients a taste of your company’s expertise, and it will show them that if they pay more, they’ll gain access to much more high-quality information that they maybe didn’t even know they needed.
This applies to any field: Give customers a little, and if it’s good, they’ll be coming back for more. Not only will sharing your knowledge encourage clients to look at your services, but it also establishes your business as an expert within your industry.
4. Reward loyalty
While your intuition might lead you to believe that your focus should be on finding new leads in order to increase the size of your client list, don’t let that distract you from keeping your current clients happy. Sixty-six percent of customers begin using a competitor’s business because of poor service from the original business.
Don’t fall into apathy once you begin receiving your clients’ paychecks; after all, they can always stop coming. Instead, reward clients and encourage repeat business by offering perks such as discounts, special deals, early access to new products or whatever else it may be to remind your clients that you care about them and want them to stay with your business.
5. Treat clients like people, not business
Every business likes to think they do this. Of course, clients are people and should be treated as such, but it’s not always so clear-cut.
It can be hard to be patient with clients when you are trying to make ends meet and focus on your own success. However, you should always remember to be honest and personable.
The childhood adage of “treat others the way you want to be treated” holds true for business relationships, too. Respect your clients, and they will respect you, and hopefully pay for your product to boot.
6. Email your clients
Email is a great tool for marketing and has been for a long time. Email’s ROI is higher than that of any other digital channel, so use an email list to build your client list.
Capitalize on a client’s potential interest by sending them a welcome email immediately after they sign up to remind them of your company and what you offer. However, also remember that your emails must be permission-based and have an unsubscribe link, or they will immediately go to spam (not to mention issues of legality).
Finally, don’t forget to make your emails mobile-friendly, as 53 percent of emails are opened on mobile devices.
7. Give them access to your network
If you help your clients, they will help you. One way to do this is by sharing a client’s product with them and vouching for it. If you want to avoid appearing too salesy, you can offer opportunities like hosting guest blog posts or articles that offer clients the chance to share some of their expertise with your network on relevant topics.
This can help your brand, as well, by giving you more content that allows you to use the 80-20 rule of social media: 80 percent of what you post should be about things other than yourself.
Sharing industry-relevant information with your network helps your network stay in the loop while making your clients look good. Not to mention, this strategy also gives clients the chance to share the content you’ve posted on your sites to their own audiences, increasing your brand’s reach.
Building your client list is crucial for your business to grow, so start using these tips to expand your network. With more clients comes more revenue, giving you a broader reach and ability to direct your business where you want it to go.
This post originally appeared on Marketing Land.