How to find customers

Targeting the right person in a company is critical, but not always easy.

The most cost effective way is to ring up the company and ask for the name of the person who occupies the position you want to contact. However, there are some companies who do not release this information as a matter of policy irrespective of how polite or professional you are on the phone.

There are alternatives to writing to a generic job title. For example, you can buy lists of people in certain positions from online list brokers or you can hire a professional tele-marketing agency to find out the information you need. However, all of these options come at a price so you need to make sure you plan carefully and evaluate success as you would with any other sales and marketing activity.

Another effective way of making contacts and marketing your business is business networks and networking events and you can look for ones that suit your specific needs such as the right sector. Having the opportunity to talk about your business face to face with potential prospects can be an excellent way of building your business.

Make sure that you examine all of the elements of the marketing mix available to you such as PR which can be done very cost effectively.

Make the most of marketing

Marketing covers many different areas – and is not just another name for advertising!

It is about understanding your customers and the market in which you operate better than anyone else. It’s about providing what your customers want at the right price, through accessible channels and promoting your business’ product or service.

Remember that it’s not all about attracting new customers either – you’ll also want to make sure you keep your existing customers happy so they’ll stay with you.

Set clear marketing objectives, plan, set budgets and stick to them. If you constantly monitor and evaluate, you’ll begin to get a picture of what works.

At some stage you’ll need to build awareness of your product or service through good PR or advertising. You may want to think about advertising through the internet or producing some literature or sales material.

Ideas that don’t cost the earth include:

  • Directory listings like Yellow Pages, Thomson, Chamber of Commerce, local area website listings etc
  • Home made PR – you can write to your local press with a newsworthy item like the opening of a new shop, interesting insights into your area of business, a niche product or offering. This can be a good way to get free publicity.
  • Newsletters – let customers know about what’s going on in your business. The cheapest way would be to send out an email newsletter but you can always print one off and post it out.
  • Create or improve your website – most customers expect a website these days, often more than they expect a brochure.

To some extent, you have to become an expert outside your field of knowledge or experience when running a business. You’ll need to look at other skills, like marketing, finance, legal, HR etc.

If you’ve come from working for a reasonable sized organisation, you’ve probably always been able to rely on other departments for these skills before.

Tip: You can’t send marketing messages by email to customers who’ve opted out of uses of receiving direct marketing. 

Tip: Guidance on complying with the Data Protection Act 

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