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Getting customers: the rules of attraction

A magnet attracting paperclipsEvery business wants to get customers, keep them and add to their number but it's never easy. In the first of a four-part series, we explain how to attract customers in the first place

Making that first connection can be tough. You've only got the briefest moment to grab someone's attention and win them over. A thoughtless word could see them walking away before you have the chance to show them what you have to offer.

What's more, you're competing with other eligible businesses in the same industry, so how exactly do you make a good first impression and woo new customers?

There's no doubt that the modern customer is savvy. We all like to think we know exactly what we want and have the know-how and resources to find the best deal around. And, if customers don't get what they need, then they waste no time in voting with their wallets and deserting one company for another.

Businesses endeavour to make sure that this doesn't happen, but in a competitive world it's no easy feat. Don't despair though - there are a few ways to stay ahead of the game without needing a sizeable budget.

Networking works

First up is networking. Rather than viewing a networking event as just another free lunch, make sure you go armed with a plan and don't waste your time talking briefly to every single person in the room. You might come across as the most popular, but you don't usually get any prizes for that. Check the guest list before arriving and once there, make a bee-line for the person representing the best potential. Cultivating relationships in this way is guaranteed to generate more leads.

Secondly, think about the one thing you really want when you invest in a product or service - some kind of guarantee that what you're paying for is worth it. No-one wants to risk wasting hard-earned money. You'd be surprised at how powerful building consumer faith is for your client base. After all, it's not just about getting people on board, it's also about keeping them there.

Newsletters are a great tool to help you attract new clients. Yes, they're a hassle to put together and you've probably been meaning to get round to writing one for a while, but never underestimate their impact. Make sure to tell potential clients something they don't already know, such as industry insights or tips and provide people with valuable articles rather than a blatant sales pitch.

Attract customers with free samples

Try giving your goods or services away for free. Seriously, everyone likes something for nothing and free trials or samples are a great way to get people interested in whatever you're selling. Free seminars are always popular too. But make sure you get contact details so you can get back in touch.

Above all, don't forget to make a little time for some fun. Throwing a launch party where you invite others to tour your operation and learn more about you while getting free food and drinks is always a winner.

Whichever path you choose in your pursuit of new clients and customers, it's imperative you keep an eye on the purse strings and track the efficiency of your methods. Successful businesses always measure their return on investment and work out simple cost-to-sales ratios.

So, to make sure you're not wasting everyone's time, there are some golden rules to keep in mind while pursuing marketing activities. Always make sure you've defined your target market (who you want to talk to) and that you completely understand their needs. Address these needs and deliver exactly what people want.

Finally, always keep an eye on the competition. It pays to know what they're up to so you can make sure you're one step ahead. You know what they say about keeping your enemies close.

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