Starting a new business is not easy, especially if no one knows you’ve done it. You need to start building up a customer base as soon as possible, so that you can start to drive sales and stay afloat during those difficult early moments. If you don’t have a single customer on your books, here’s how you can start from scratch.
1. Find your customers
The first step is figuring out where your customers are already. Find out where they hang out the most, and what they are looking at. For example, if you sell wedding accessories, you can identify several places where customers are looking for inspiration. These might be Instagram and Pinterest wedding pages, wedding magazines, and wedding photography websites. You can’t get in front of your customers if you don’t know where they are, so conduct market research and find out what your ideal customer likes.
2. Be present
When you figure out where they are looking, make sure that you go there. The wedding business in our example should set up Pinterest and Instagram accounts and start posting their products, following best practices to get as many views as possible. They should also be contacting wedding magazines and photographers to find out how they can get their products featured on their websites.
3. Start a mailing list
Before your product is live, make sure that you start a mailing list. Ask people to sign up to be notified when your product goes live. They will give you their email addresses and you can start to build a list easily. This list will be instrumental when you make your initial launch, as well as for marketing purposes later on. Build a simple landing page for your website which sums up your product briefly, and give them a preview if possible.
4. Launch with your list
When your website is ready to go live and become a sales portal, make sure that you go in with a marketing plan. As soon as you hit launch, promote the new website on all social media channels, and send an email to your mailing list as well. It’s a good idea to launch with a special limited-time offer to get people interested in buying quickly.
5. Promote, promote, promote
Now, spend some time concentrating on promoting your business. Make sure that you are focusing on finding your customers where they are paying attention. You can even do local advertising, such as handing out flyers, if you have a walk-in store or service.
6. Get features
Remember how we discussed being on social media and magazines earlier? Well, just being present is a good start, but it’s even better to get yourself featured on bigger pages and more prominent places. Instagram is full of feature accounts where you can submit your posts to get them reposted to a larger audience. Pinterest has shared boards. You can also talk to social media influencers and have them feature you, though normally this carries a fee.
7. Add a sign-up incentive
Finally, now that your launch has happened, you will still want to keep adding customers to your mailing list. This will help you send out marketing emails in the future. How do you get them to sign up now that there’s no launch to wait for? You will need to add an incentive. This could be a downloadable PDF guide, a money off code for their next order, or even an exclusive free gift.
Once you make it to the end of these steps, you should have a decent sized customer base to work with!