How Can I Grow My Business and Find More Customers?
As a business owner, how to grow my business is a question I ask myself on a weekly, if not daily, basis. When I first started out, there was the excitement of being my own boss, but it was when the bills started rolling in that I asked the question, how do I get more customers to help grow my business?
As a business owner, your main focus is often on doing the best job you can for the client, and your spare time is spent keeping up to date with what is happening in your industry, tax returns and paying salaries. So how do you find the time to find new clients when all of that is happening?
I want to help you grow your business and here is my guide to how you can earn more this year.
1. Create an Engaging Website That Helps Your Customers
A website is a basic necessity for almost all businesses. It’s a way for customers to find your business, but also to see the quality of your work, services you offer and, most importantly, have a way to contact you. You can do some of this with social media (which we will come on to later), but the organic reach of social media shrinks every day and social media platforms can disappear without warning, so to guard against that, build a website for your business and see below about email marketing and how you can use your website to connect with your customers at a deeper level.
Having a simple, well-designed website that helps your customers know more about you and your business can lead to more income if done correctly. For most businesses, a website can be as simple as single landing page. Most businesses don’t need complex websites with multiple pages and shopping carts.
I use Divi to build my websites and it’s simple enough to pick up in a few days. If you’re ready to start building your own website now, head straight over to my blog post about starting a new blog.
If you’re still unsure about what to put on your new website, read on.
What should a small business website include at minimum?
- Examples of your work
- Employee images where possible
- FAQs that your company receives
- Contact information, including a physical address if you have one
- Social media links if you use them regularly (don’t link to inactive accounts as they will do your image more harm than good)
Additional items to include on your website:
- A blog that helps customers and people within your industry (build authority)
- Newsletter signup (more on this in email marketing below)
- Videos that help deal with common issues your customers or peers have (build authority)
Having a blog on your website will help you build authority within your industry. This will in turn help you to become the go-to person when both your peers and customers have a question. Remember, building this content will take time, so start off with a one-page website with the basics and add content as you create it. Don’t try to do it all at once as you will burn out. Adding content little and often over time will help your business grow. This is why adding a blog is a long-term strategy that can help you stand out from the crowd.
Regardless of how little content you have published in the beginning, never have an ‘under construction’ page. Customers find these pages frustrating and may not return, and Google may decide that your website is defunct.
2. Use Social Media the Right Way
I see many companies out there use social media as a way to always be selling to their customers, but did you know that shouting ‘buy my product’ is not how you get someone to buy your product? Sounds simple, right? Well, it can be simple if you do it right.
Social media works best when you entertain and also educate your audience. If you focus on entertaining or educating your audience to solve a problem, they will be more likely to buy from you in the future. Help your customers solve small problems and this will help build up trust. The idea behind this is that they will then come to you with their higher value projects in the future, as there is that foundational trust in place.
Choosing the right social media platform
Choosing the right platform will depend on your business model and the type of customer that you want to attract. In the early days it can be tempting to try and be on every platform, but it’s more important to build an audience on one platform and to understand how to best use that platform and all the features that it offers than try to use them all. Spending time on one platform will also mean you better serve your audience there and they become more engaged.
When choosing which social media platform to use, ask yourself where your preferred customers hang out. Each platform has its own personality, so choose the one that is the best fit for your business, and is where your customers already spend their time. It’s pointless posting on Instagram if your customers are all on Twitter.
If you’re unsure about choosing the right platform for your business, please get in touch.
3. Email Marketing for Your Business
Email marketing done right is one of the better ways to reach your customers. Typically, 10-15% of your following on social media will see your post. The number of followers who see your post on the day you post it will be even lower. Typically, a post on any social media platform will be shown to people over the course of a week or longer, so if you want to communicate a special offer to your customers, you’re better off sending out a well-timed email that will be delivered directly to their inbox.
How to get your customers’ email addresses
The best way to get your customers to part with their email address is to ask for it at the point of sale or by offering a free download such as a check list, ebook or cheat sheet. You can do this with any one of many different email service providers, but the one I use is ConvertKit. Having used many providers over the years, I’ve found the workflow of ConvertKit to be the most intuitive and their support has also been very responsive with any questions I’ve had.
Once you have the email address from a customer or even a potential customer, it’s time to start building up a relationship with them and building trust and authority within your market. Remember, be seen as being helpful as well as keeping them informed about any offers you have.
Updates and special offers
Keeping your audience updated with your progress is a great way to sell, but also keep them informed of changes to your business. Introduce them to the team, new menu items or services that you are now offering. Talking about any work that you are doing in the community and how your customers can get involved is also a great way to engage with your audience.
4. Add Your Business to Google
How often do you use Google Maps to find a business or a service near you? Businesses aren’t added by Google, they are added by the business owners. So if you haven’t added your business to Google Maps so that people can find you in the same way, you can add your business to Google here: https://support.google.com/business/answer/2911778
When you click the link above and the page loads, just click ‘Get Started’ and you will be asked a few questions:
- Your business name
- Choose a category for your business
- Add an address (this location will show up on Google Maps and Search when customers are looking for your business)
- Include other geographical areas you cover
- Enter contact details (including your existing website or claim a free one through Google)
Once your business has been added to Google Maps you will be able to:
- Promote your business with photos and posts
- Track business analytics to understand your customers
- Respond to customer reviews
One thing you will need to do is verify your business address (this typically takes four days to arrive in the post) and then you can update and create your profile on Google Maps.
Adding your business to Google Maps will also mean customers can check in to your business on Facebook, which will be seen by their network of friends and is essentially free advertising for you.
5. Ask for Reviews
You’ve added your business to Google Maps. Ask previous customers to leave you a review (choose people you have a good relationship with who are likely to leave you positive honest reviews). Ask them to include images if they have any, as these will also help build visibility for your business.
After this initial round of requests, you can do this routinely in a follow up email with all your clients after they have purchased from you. Provide them with a link to review you. Seeing positive reviews from previous clients will help build trust for future clients to use your product or service.
6. Keep Yourself Organised
Each morning check what you have on for the day and also have an overview of what is coming for the week or month ahead. Doing this as part of your regular routine will help and you’ll be less likely to miss an important task ever again. This can be as simple as using Google Calendars on your phone, or Outlook Calendar on your laptop to set up reminders for regular events and tasks.
In my SHOT system, I talk about handling one priority task at a time. It might feel like you want to get everything done all at the same time, but you only have so many hours in a day. Focus the time you have on handling one important task that moves you one step closer to your goal. This task should be one that is going to help you and your business increase its revenue, as this will mean you are more likely to be motivated to get the task done.
You can read more about my SHOT system here:
7. Guest Speaking as Your Business
Guest speaking at dinner events or industry events is not only a great way to increase your authority in your field, but it’s also a great way to find new clients that are interested in your product or service.
There are many ways that you can do this and collaborate with others in your wider industry to help as a community.
Live events in your industry
Getting on stage can be nerve-wracking, but remember, you are the one that knows about your chosen subject. If you are presented with the opportunity to get in front of a new audience this way, the important thing to remember is you want as many of them to get to know you further as possible. You’ll obviously introduce yourself at the start, but at the end of your talk, let them know how they can find out more about you and your business. Have a simple link to a website where they can download something in exchange for their email. Make it easy to remember and encourage them to take a photo of the slide on their phones. One I use is https://www.darrenmeredith.co.uk/creators
Other places you can get in front of a new audience include a podcast or YouTube livestream. If you have a favourite podcast, YouTuber or professional in the industry, reach out to them with a few ideas on how you can add value to their audience, while also adding value to yours.
8. Attend Networking Events (after we get out of lockdown!)
I mentioned above about speaking at events but attending events as a consumer or attendee is also a great way to connect and meet people in the industry. When attending networking events, it’s important to always carry plenty of business cards with you, so make sure you order them far enough in advance. You can use sites like Canva to design your own business cards. I’ve used them myself and have them printed via their online store for quick delivery.
After the event, go through all the cards you collected and send a follow up email to each person. You can meet a lot of people in one go at networking events, so it’s worth making a note of something that reminds you of that person on their card. You can do this in front of them, as they will also remember you for doing this trick.
9. Guest Blogging as Your Business
One of the reasons for having a blog is to attract new customers to your business and for them to then purchase from you. But relying on just your own blog will take time and dedication to create enough valuable content that will eventually start ranking. There is a way to speed this up: guest blogging.
Guest blogging on other people’s blogs helps your website because one of the ranking factors in Google is EAT (Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness). You need to prove that you’re an expert in your subject and are considered an authority in the area and trusted by your peers in your industry. Writing blog posts on blogs in your industry and getting links back to your website in return does this. You will eventually be seen by Google as the go-to website for that subject.
Natural link building will help you build your domain authority, which is a number that indicates how important Google considers your website to be for any given subject.
The important factor here though is that you are linking to worthy content and there is a reason for the link back to your blog or site. Done well, this can boost your site’s ranking, but done badly it can damage it.
10. Join Local Business Organisations
Join local organisations like your Chamber of Commerce. At your local Chamber, you will meet like-minded businesspeople who want to help each others’ businesses to grow. You’ll be introduced to others that might have a service you require or there may be ways in which you can help other businesses.
If you are in the UK, you can find out more by visiting the British Chambers of Commerce.
You can also join local business-orientated Facebook groups and become an active member in those. While many groups don’t allow you to simply drop a link to your business and run, if you are an active member of the group you will become known as the go-to person who answers other people’s questions and helps the community. This in turn may lead to collaborations with members of the group or even the group owner.
The key with Facebook groups is to be there to be helpful and engaging and not be a spammer.
11. Create an Online Course
Can you put together your skills into an online course? Building an online course using what you know to teach others is a great way to grow your business. You will reach international clients online that you might not otherwise be able to reach by running a local course. Even clients that you hold in-person training for may be interested in an online course too, as they would be able to follow along at their own pace.
As a site for hosting an online course, my preference is Teachable as you own the content and have a better connection with your students than you do with some other platforms on the market.
If you’re interested in finding out more about how to build your own online course, get in touch. I can help you build and market your online course.
12. Start a Membership Group
Membership groups on platforms like Facebook are a way for your students to connect with each other in a space that you control. You can interact with them in there and answer their questions on the feed so that others can benefit from the information and you can demonstrate your expertise to the whole group rather than individually by email.
Another feature of Facebook groups in particular is that you can also choose to go live and speak to your members directly. You can update them on developments in your business or changes to your course, or check in with them about how they are finding the course and any questions they might have. I’ve seen this work best with groups on Facebook even when the course itself is held on Teachable.
13. Start a YouTube Channel
Did you know that YouTube is the second largest search engine (the first being Google), and that YouTube is owned by Google? By creating great content that helps answer questions related to your industry, you will be able to reach new potential customers, as your videos can show up when people are searching for answers to their problems.
YouTube has a reputation for being all about prank videos and cat memes but it is actually an excellent platform to grow your business. I’ve seen people from eye doctors to authors to photographers grow their businesses with YouTube.
If this piques your interest but you think you need fancy gear to start a YouTube channel, you are wrong. All you need is a way to film yourself (a smartphone works) and an idea of the videos you want to create.
Check out my course on starting a YouTube channel to find out more and download my 12 Video Ideas for your business.
14. Hold a Webinar
Creating and advertising a webinar to explain more about your business, course or services is a fun way to connect with new customers. Give them something of value that they can act upon but leave them wanting more. If it’s a course that you offer, you can provide them with a checklist or a small part of the course as a taster of the quality of information you provide.
Holding a webinar is also a way to add people onto your mailing list. They might not attend, or they might watch the replay of your webinar, but you now have an email address from them to be able to sell to. This means they are now a warm lead who will potentially be easier to sell to.
15. Create a Challenge
I challenge you to a duel isn’t quite what I mean here… Create a challenge that will help your customers create something of value. Take your audience on a transformation process, help them solve a frustration they have in simple-to-follow steps. A good friend of mine, Russell, does this with origami. Russell has released a book called Origami Made Simple, both in the book and in his videos you can follow along to create origami models. On his Facebook page and also his YouTube channel, you can follow along and create some of the models from the book too. You can see his origami website here.
Your challenge should be related to your business. So, if you are a joiner it might be an introduction to woodwork, if you are a chef, how to cook or bake something from scratch. You get the idea, but I’m happy to chat over ideas on a call.
The idea of the challenge you create is to give your audience a sense of accomplishment and build a connection with you as a path to offering them a product or service you offer in the future.
16. Attend Trade Events and Conferences
These are conferences that are put on by businesses or professional bodies in your industry. World Travel Markets or ITB Berlin are examples of travel industry events that happen every year, or the London Book Fair for publishers and authors.
At these events you will meet other organisations in the industry that are highly relevant to you and your business. As with networking events, carry plenty of business cards and follow up after the event to further establish your working relationship and discuss how you can possibly work together on any projects.
These events are key in each industry’s calendar, and are often when most of the year’s networking and trading is done, as every business in the industry comes together in one place for several days.
17. Start a Podcast
A podcast can help you establish authority within your industry, as you will be able to provide up to date information about what is happening and any changes you are facing in your industry. It’s a way to connect with others in your industry and have them on as guests to interview and share their experiences.
If you are looking to set up a podcast, have a look at Pat Flynn on YouTube. He also has courses available that will walk you through setting up a podcast from scratch.
18. Work ‘On’ Your Business While You Can’t Work ‘In’ It
If you are ever faced with a time when you can’t work in your business serving clients, try to keep focused and see if there is a way you can work on adding value to your business instead. For example, if you own a restaurant and you have to close your doors, can you pivot and provide take away or delivery services instead for the period you have to close?
Be careful though, work-life-balance can often be hard to get right as a business owner. While you can be very focused on building your empire, it is important to make sure you take time for you and your family to enjoy precious times like weekends and evenings. Taking a few hours to recharge will help you be more focused when you are back working in your business.
19. Employ Someone to Help
You don’t have to do everything alone – you can grow your business with the help of others. If you don’t have the time or skills for tasks like social media engagement, blog posts or setting up a website, you can employ a content creator, like me, who can help you with this. You (as the business owner), send me the a brief and any pictures and I will create posts across your social media and write blog posts for your website.
I’m a content creator and I work with you to develop content strategies for your blog and social media accounts including YouTube. I can also post on your behalf and write blog posts on agreed subjects.
I invest my time learning about SEO, hashtags and social media strategy so you don’t have to.