#1 Business Challenge – Attracting [Qualified] New Customers

Horseshoe magnet

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I recently read a post on Constant Contact that a survey identified “Attracting New Customers” as the number one small business challenge.  I have also recently discussed with a number of small businesses their relatively poor experiences attracting quality new business through schemes like Groupon (and other extreme couponing vendors).  Add to that, that a number of my friends who used extreme couponing vendors have had some really bad experiences with the companies from which they purchased services.  So, it doesn’t appear that the issue is really attracting a LOT of new suspects, but more a question of attracting qualified prospects that can become high quality customers!

There are many different schools of thought about generating new business leads.  I have listed 5 of the ones that come to mind as I think across the spectrum.


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1. Shotgun – This is the classic approach for people trying to get new customers fast.  They might buy a list, go to a mixer or networking event, post to their LinkedIn or Facebook friends, take out a classified ad, or some other approach that hits a lot of “random” people and hope that someone who could be a good customer gets hit in the process.  This may be cost effective and quick, but it is likely to yield NO results – and it if does yield it is likely luck and “luck is not a plan.”

2. Shock and awe – This is the approach to put the word out in every possible media channel and hope that the right message is making its way to the right people to respond to the call.  This will likely be quite expensive and if it is based on hope, well “hope is not a plan.”

3. Stunts – There have been some incredible examples of stunts that have been pulled to identify potential customers.  The challenge with stunts is that they have a good chance of backfiring.  They can backfire in a number of ways: customers perceive company as “not serious”, public sees company as very risky, some stunts border on illegal, and it is not necessarily the case that perspective customers will want to watch the stunt.

4. Straight shot – With appropriate and relevant criteria, and a compatible database, a potential client set can be identified and given more focus when approaching with marketing and/or sales message.  This has increased chances of getting in front of the right people – question will be if it was the right time and the right place for your message to get through.

Panama Business and Investment

Image by thinkpanama via Flickr

5. Sincerity – The classic approach.  Identifying specific customers by name and profile and contacting them directly with an invitation to educate on your business, your offering, and your interest to have them as a customer.

Probably more important than the approach chosen is getting a profile in your mind where you could spot your ideal customer on the street, or they would answer your call in a crowded theater if you described them well enough.  If you can describe them well enough, your colleagues, your family, and even your customers can identify themselves as potential prospects – and you will already be pretty far down the process of qualifying them.


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1 comment

  1. Brian Mahoney says:

    Love your blog. Is there a way to subscribe to get alerts of new posts via email?

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