The Secret to Attracting New Customers

A couple of weeks ago, I was visiting my eye doctor for a routine exam. When I was giving her my updated contact information, she asked about what kind of work I do.

Once I told her, she asked this:

“How do you get business?”

It’s a question I often get when I tell people I own a marketing company.  I find it funny that people ask that question. After all, as a marketer, attracting new business IS my line of work.

Yet, I think it’s the crux of what most frustrates many business owners. If you’re a doctor, lawyer or accountant, you know how to do your work. But, the prospect of attracting new customers is downright perplexing.

Many entrepreneurs went into business not because they enjoy marketing and business development, but because they love the work they do.

Yet, if you want to stay in business, you have to get good at attracting (and keeping) your customer base.

Laws of Customer Attraction

So, how do you attract new customers?

Research.

In other words, you must get really good at understanding your target audience.

Sadly, many businesses forget this very important step. Instead, they jump right into implementing a variety of marketing tactics and hoping something sticks.

Not only can this be a waste of time and money, but it’s unlikely that it will get you results.

Instead, if you take the time to better understand your current customers and the kind of customers that you want to attract, you’ll be better able to find out what they value about your business, what their pain points are and what makes them tick. From there, it becomes much easier to determine the best ways to reach out to more people like them.

Uncovering Customer Preferences

If you want to learn more about your customers, here are examples of some questions that you should ask:

  • How did you hear about us?
  • Why did you decide to do business with us over our competitors?
  • What do you value most about doing business with us?
  • What can we do to serve you better?
  • What product or service do we not provide that you wish we did?
  • What are the problems and issues keep you up at night?
  • What the biggest challenges you are facing in your business right now?
  • What if our company died – what, if anything, would you miss?

This is just a sampling of what you could ask, but this should give you an idea of what kinds of questions will help you better understand your customers and why they have chosen you.

Once you’ve nailed down what you want to learn about your customers, you can then determine the best way to gather this information.

Here are some ideas on how to get customer feedback:

  • Conduct a survey. Sending out a short survey to customers is an excellent way to uncover their preferences. Tools like SurveyMonkey or SurveyGizmo make it easy to create and distribute online surveys.
  • Talk to customers. Perhaps the easiest way to get feedback is to ASK! Pick up the phone and ask your best customers for candid feedback, talk to people at the check out counter and really listen to what your clients are saying during meetings.
  • Listen on social media channels. If you’re active on social media, pay attention to what people are saying about your brand. What do they say when they give you a shout out? What are they complaining about? Pay attention to the language they use. Sometimes, the things they comment on and value are very different than what you think.
  • Reviews and recommendations. Look at the reviews and recommendations you’re getting online through LinkedIn, Facebook, Yelp and Google. What are people saying? You can often find great nuggets that will clue you in to customer preferences.

Once you’ve collected the feedback, it’s important to do something with it. What insights did you uncover? What did you learn about your customers that you didn’t know before?

Then, you can use this information to build a marketing strategy around what you’ve learned. You’ll find that once you’ve taken the time to better understand your customers, it becomes much easier to sell to them and others just like them.

How do you uncover customer feedback and preferences? How has this helped you get better at attracting new customers?

Image credit: Explain That Stuff

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  • http://ne-mm.com/ Michelle Quillin

    Love this, Laura! I think a lot of brands might be afraid to hear what their customers have to say, or that their customers won’t tell them the hard truths.

    Would there be a way to create an anonymous survey online, so customers would really be honest? Do you know? If not, brands could send out a survey to their clients once a year, with a stamped, self-addressed envelope, asking for anonymous feedback. I’d want to help our customers clear as many hurdles as possible.

    • http://www.flybluekite.com/ Laura Click

      So true, Michelle. I did a video about customer feedback a year or so ago that talked about that. If you’re afraid to get feedback, that might be a sign that you have things you need to fix!

      And yes, there is a way to get anonymous feedback online. Survey tools like SurveyMonkey and SurveyGizmo don’t require you to ask for a name, so the feedback can be anonymous. So, if you wanted to conduct a customer survey, you could simply send them a link and you would never know who filled it out (unless you wanted to). Otherwise, yes a printed survey could work. You just have know the best way to get it in front of your customers.

  • http://twitter.com/Soulati Jayme Soulati

    I think professional services firms need to build an authoritative brand. I chose to work with Michelle/Scott of New England Multimedia due to the relationship I had built with Michelle over time. She was always supportive, we exchanged calls and wrote on a blog together, and that was about 1.5 years of becoming acquainted.

    Word of mouth does work wonders, but having the list of questions you gave is also a necessity, Laura.

    • http://www.flybluekite.com/ Laura Click

      Love that story, Jayme. You’re right – word of mouth is very important. I think answering these questions just makes your business MORE referable. So, in your example with Michele, if she were to find out what you valued most about working with her, she could more easily duplicate that with other clients and even promote that on her website and when she’s talking to prospects. All of this insight helps!

  • Adam

    Excellent advice Laura! Smart marketers know that the key to their effectiveness is good customer intelligence.

    Your questions are spot on! One I would add (worded better) is “if you heard about us multiple times before engaging with our company, what made you decide to finally work with us?” Try to identify the triggers that make people to take action and try your product or service.

    • http://www.flybluekite.com/ Laura Click

      Appreciate the kind words, Adam! That means a lot coming from the customer service guru!!

      I love the question you added – I think that’s important. Oftentimes, it’s hard to nail down exactly what made people pick up the phone and call, but wording it that way may certainly help!

  • http://uncommonlysocial.com/ Sarah Mason

    Great post, Laura. One of the most effective ways I’ve gained new customers is to tell people (friends, family, colleagues) what I do. Not in a pushy way, of course, but when people ask what I do I keep it simple but specific (“I help small businesses and entrepreneurs develop social media and design strategies”). More times than not, people are interested to hear more and when they do, they often know people who could use my help. I’ve gotten several referrals that way over the last couple years.

    • http://www.flybluekite.com/ Laura Click

      Sometimes the best and most effective tactics are the simplest ones! You must have an elevator pitch and be ready and willing to tell your network about what you do. I know a lot of people who are uncomfortable talking about themselves, but if you’re in business, you have to be willing to let folks know about what you do and precisely who you work with so they know when to hire you or how to refer business your way. Great point, Sarah!

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