Winning new clients is probably the most important activity for any business to do but it’s also one of the most commonly avoided. The best starting point is to make sure you have a really good understanding of who your target clients are, what their needs are and what you can offer them.
Don’t wait until you need new business to look for clients. Choose a few tactics for connecting with prospects that you think are most likely to work and commit to completing them as part of your everyday routine.
1. Write a book
No doubt between you and your team there is a lot of knowledge. Use it to create a book as a free resource to offer out to prospects. It will raise your credentials and capture their interest (and their data). It will help drive traffic to your website and the content can be repurposed for other things (like blogs). You can create an eBook to download from your website or print-on-demand books aren’t very expensive to make these days if you wanted to offer it as an option too.
2. Use Instagram
Instagram can be a great way to connect with other local businesses – follow them to see what they’re up to, like and comment when it’s appropriate and share what you’re doing too. Here are some other marketing tools which you could also find useful.
3. Ask for referrals
Providing a first-rate service for your current clients is the best way to generate word-of-mouth marketing but don’t assume that your customers are proactively selling your services on your behalf. Ask them to refer you, give them something to give (like an offer, resource or event invite) and a reason to give it.
4. Ask family and friends
You may be reluctant to mix business and pleasure but you could also be missing out on the most obvious customers.
5. Design an unforgettable business card
Stand out from the crowd with a thought-provoking business card design that potential customers will keep and that will keep you at the forefront of their minds.
6. Network in unlikely places
Go to networking events that won’t typically be attended by other accountants but will have business owners there. If you specialise in or have a few clients in a specific industry (for example, hospitality) then you could attend a hospitality marketing event.
7. Go niche
If you don’t specialise in an industry then consider it. It’ll help you target your marketing efforts – you’ll know exactly where to look for clients, how to find out more about them and you can be seen as having authority in that industry.
8. See everyone as a potential client
Even though a targeted approach will work better, you never know when you might bump into a prospect. A good strategy is to adopt an attitude that sees everyone as a potential client.
Not many people are naturally good at selling themselves so prepare yourself for any networking opportunities that might spring up by spending some time putting together and practising your elevator pitch. This is a 20-30 second speech about what you do and what makes you the best or different. The idea is that you can deliver it on request without it sounding like it was practised.
Websites like Bark.com could be worth exploring. They can connect you with people in your area looking for your services if you create a profile.
10. Be a social butterfly
Get involved in your community by attending (non-business related) local events, join a sports club and it’s a good excuse to visit the local pub! People work with people they like so you never know what will come of it.
11. Volunteer your services
Another way to make contacts while also giving something back is to volunteer your services for charity work (this could be anything from serving at a soup kitchen to mentoring startups).
12. Get a speaking gig
Talking at a conference or seminar is an excellent way to show off your expertise in front of the right people. Talk to event organisers about being included or organise your own event.
This could be online (via Google or social media) or offline (print, radio, etc.) Advertising works best alongside other channels – people are more likely to respond to an advert if they have seen you or your content elsewhere. All advertising must be tracked and make sure you work out your return on investment.
14. Copy your competitors
Conduct competitor analysis to find out where they are getting their clients from. Where are your competitors’ advertising? If it’s recurring then it’s likely to be working for them.
Some of these ideas will appeal to you more or seem more doable than others. Create a plan, test the tactics over time and track them to see what sort of response you get.
If you are receiving leads then make sure you’re also concentrating on converting them by using ‘calls to action’, follow ups and asking for their business.
Sophie Cross is a freelance writer and marketer specialising in business and travel. She is the editor for London Revealed magazine and her clients include lastminute.com Group and the Coca-Cola London Eye.