As the owner of your own small business, you’re in good company. More than 99% of organizations in the U.S. fit into the small business category, after all. But there’s another number you should know: About 1 in 12 businesses closes up shop every year, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.
About 22% of those firms close because their owners retired, and another 20% shutter when owners sell the business. But a full quarter of them have to close because they don’t have enough sales or cash flow to keep them afloat. In a survey of small business owners, most respondents said that if they knew then what they know now, they would have invested more in getting new clients from the beginning.
Want to make sure you can put down your scissors or roll up your yoga mat on your own terms? These seven tips for getting new clients for your small business can help you make the most of every dollar you invest:
1. Find them on social media.
You can’t start attracting customers to your business until you know where they are. Fortunately, that’s the easy part — they’re on social media! Statistics show that more than 70% of Americans have at least one social media profile and that attracting customers on social media is up to three times less expensive than on other media channels. Identify the channels where you get the most audience engagement, then build up your presence thereby ramping up your posting schedule and using popular hashtags.
Once you’ve attracted some new potential clients to your social accounts, make it easy for them to book appointments with you by adding a “book now” button to your Instagram profile. Include a call to action in your captions directing followers to that button as often as possible. If you already use Schedulicity for booking, you can automatically add a booking button to your Instagram account from within the platform.
2. Have your own “squad” contest.
Having followers on Instagram is great, but the point is to engage with them to keep your brand relevant and fresh in their minds. Take advantage of social media’s opportunity for building connections by holding Instagram contests that involve tagging friends. Be sure to make the prize relevant to your audience — a free blowout with their next appointment, a discounted personal training session, free prints after a photography shoot, etc.
Post a photo advertising the contest and reward, then tell followers that to enter, they have to comment and tag a friend or two. Tally up the number of comments you receive, then use a random number generator to choose your winner. Notify them via direct message or a post in your feed, then ask them to pose for a photo when they come in to collect their winnings. Post it to encourage others to participate in future contests.
3. Join forces with other local businesses.
The idea of building friendships and communities isn’t just a social media concept; it’s popular online because users value it in real life. When you join forces with other, non-competitive businesses and nonprofits, you create business opportunities in which every business complements each other.
What would one of those partnerships look like? Say you own a hair salon that offers the best styles in town. You could partner with a local coffee shop to sell their brews in your salon, a spa to offer lightly discounted services to people who patronize both of your shops, or a gym to provide rewards for customers who work out with them and come to you for hair services. Using discounts, Instagram tags, and cross-promotions with these partners will make attracting customers to your business a more organic process.
4. Make news, then spread it.
A press release is a great way to promote your business in a professional and engaging way, but you can’t just submit an advertisement or social media post as news. You can, however, promote new product launches, community engagements, charity sponsorships, and other newsworthy events by writing press releases about them.
Your release should include a headline that briefly describes your announcement, a paragraph or two of additional information about your event, product, or launch, and a paragraph of background information on your brand. Don’t forget to add your contact information at the end! For a more detailed press release outline, check out this blog post from HubSpot. Once you’ve created your release, submit it to local newspapers, radio stations, and digital sources for community news. At the same time, post it on your own social platforms to boost engagement and discussion around your breaking news.
5. Host live events for instant engagement.
Nothing sparks engagement like a live event. Consider hosting a demonstration of your services, a fitness class in the park, or another live event that gives current and potential clients instant access to your business. Create a hashtag specific to your event to use on social media as you promote the event. If you have the budget, you might even consider a paid ad on social media for additional promotion. And don’t count out the old-fashioned strategy of pinning ads to bulletin boards in coffee shops and other gathering places around town.
Use these events to showcase your talents and knowledge in your space and to differentiate yourself from competitors in a way that leaves a lasting impression. And, of course, encourage attendees to share their experience at your event on Instagram and tag their friends!
6. Get a spot on a trusted marketplace.
One of the most effective strategies for getting new clients for a small business is through authentic word-of-mouth marketing. People trust word-of-mouth recommendations more than they trust advertising.
In addition to creating a social media presence where you can foster authentic relationships with followers, being featured on a trusted marketplace offers instant, certified word-of-mouth promotion for your business. For instance, more than 25 million consumers use Schedulicity’s Marketplace to find qualified, highly rated businesses to work with.
7. Speak to your on-the-go audience.
Even while they’re scrolling through their social media feeds, most of today’s consumers are constantly on the go. That’s one reason why more of them are choosing to digest their information by listening to podcasts and radio shows. Getting a guest spot on one can be a super effective way to reach people who scroll past your posts online and speak to them through a medium they already consider credible.
To land yourself a podcast or radio gig, start by identifying the shows your potential clients listen to by searching for popular shows in your industry or asking your audience to weigh in via social media poll. Do your research about each show to pick the ones you think would be the best fit for you. Find a contact form and introduce yourself as a potential guest, listing some of the topics you’re equipped to talk about. Keep following this process until you land that guest spot! If you’re a hairstylist using Schedulicity, we’ve got our own podcast that you might consider: Your Day Off (@hairdustry on Instagram).
One of the biggest challenges to getting new clients for a small business is finding and connecting with them in a cost-effective way. With these tips, attracting customers to your business can be a lot less expensive and much more successful.