Every business needs customers. Customers generate the cash flow your company needs to grow. But finding customers can be a challenge. Having great products or services, a prime location and superior customer service are all essential, but in themselves are no guarantee that the public will discover you. In this article, you’ll learn the best way to find customers, and how the SCORE Westchester team can help you make it happen.
Step One: Developing a Customer Profile
When you work with a SCORE Mentor, about a business you’d like to start or grow, one of the first questions they’ll ask you is “Who is your customer?” A very common mistake new business owners make is to say “Everyone!” There’s no business – not even the world’s largest companies like Amazon and Wal-Mart – that appeals to everyone, everywhere. Instead, you’ll want to focus on identifying the qualities and characteristics of people who would have the greatest need and enthusiasm for what you’re offering.
Your SCORE Mentor can help you with this process. A customer profile is an essential part of creating your business plan – the document that charts your path to success and can help convince bankers and other funding sources to provide you with money to start your business. Customer profiles include demographic information – things like the age, gender, and income level – as well as characteristics of your customers’ lifestyles and preferences.
A customer profile is important because it helps you understand who your customers are and what’s important to them. The more specific and detailed your customer profile is, the more useful it will be in helping you connect with your customers. It’s important to understand that you will wind up adjusting your customer profile based on your experiences after you open your business. Your customer profile can help you attract customers in two ways: by helping you create effective marketing messages and by helping you determine the best messaging channels to reach them.
Step Two: Creating Marketing Messages
Every business needs to market itself. Your promotional strategy needs to share your business’ unique appeal. Grand openings and other launch events can jump-start your company’s presence in the community, but that initial interest must be sustained. Your SCORE mentor can work with you to create the essential aspects of your marketing message, including your business logo, tagline, and elevator pitch – a thirty-second speech you can use to explain what your business is all about to anyone who might be interested.
There are also numerous SCORE Westchester workshops that focus on marketing techniques throughout the year. Most of these courses are free, and some are online. To see the current schedule of SCORE Westchester workshops, click here.
Step Three: Choosing the Right Marketing Channels
A marketing channel is a platform on which your marketing messages and advertisements appear. Examples of marketing channels include your website, social media, radio, print advertisements in local newspapers, billboards and more.
No one business owner has the time or resources to make use of every potential marketing channel. You have to be selective, based on several factors, including what channels are most likely to be seen by your target customer as well as your budget. Your SCORE Mentor can help you understand what your options are. If you’re not sure how to make use of a given marketing channel, don’t sweat it: SCORE Westchester maintains an extensive resource library that’s full of useful information as well as offering free workshops and classes.