Nine top tips for finding new customers

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Relying on too few customers can leave you vulnerable - losing just one could mean a cash flow crisis. By consistently making an effort to bring in new business, you'll reduce your risk of failure and grow your business in a sustainable way. Here are nine tips to help you win new business

1. Know your customer

You don't have to pay for market research, but you do need a good idea of your target market. Build a profile of potential customers - in particular, think about what they want and how you can appeal to them. Always aim to offer something unique or better value for money than your competitors.

2. Give incentives to existing customers

Offer discounts on future purchases or even commission, if your existing customers introduce new customers to you. Word-of-mouth recommendation is the most potent form of advertising, so surpass customers' expectations where possible.

3. Freshen up your image

Is your signage or business logo looking tired? Does your website need revamping? Is your online marketing strategy working? Could it be time to rebrand or even rename your business?

4. Go back to basics

Put up flyers up in local shops. Distribute leaflets and provide introductory offers. A direct mail campaign or an email marketing campaign can also be an effective way to reach new prospects; be sure to observe data protection rules if you go down this path.

5. Advertise on a budget

Could your advertising strategy be improved? Give free advertising on your website to non-competitors who return the compliment. If you do pay for advertising, try to negotiate cheaper rates. Pay-per-click advertising online can be targeted and cost-effective.

6. Get in the news

Try to get coverage in your local paper or trade press. You will need a newsworthy story, or you could put yourself forward as an expert to comment on your industry.

7. Network

Go to trade events and speak to as many people as possible. Get involved in local business associations and events. Would closer involvement in your local community be good for business? Online networking can also generate sales.

8. Find new sales channels

Maybe it's time to start selling online, if you aren't already. This could enable you to reach many more customers and to sell round the clock.

9. Set targets

To judge how successful your new business drive has been, you'll need benchmark goals. For example, you might aim to attract enough new customers to increase profit by 10% over 12 months. Remember to keep your targets realistic.

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