By Staff Writer

I do love that question. It should usually be followed up with “I don’t know. What customers are you looking for?”

Every business and their owners are different, along with their pricing, strategy and marketing efforts. So here I’ll give you 18 ideas on what you can do…BUT, be warned. I only want you to choose 3. No more than 3, otherwise you’ll end overwhelmed or running around like a headless chicken and look desperate. Desperate is not attractive.

Ask for referrals, don’t wait for them

Okay, okay, I know…referrals are the most obvious and well-known way to get new clients.

However, too many business owners just wait for referrals to fall in their lap. After all, happy clients should spread your name, right? Most clients will, but sometimes clients are busy with their own lives and won’t go out of their way.

Instead of waiting, open your email and find 2 happy clients, who haven’t sent you referrals yet.

You are going to email them right now asking for a referral. Seriously…do this…do this NOW!

2. Browse job boards

This is really another no-brainer, and chances are you already use job boards. If you don’t, bookmark all of these below and check them daily for new projects. This is probably one of the easiest ways to get new clients. These boards include logo design, web design, development, marketing, copywriting and miscellaneous jobs. Positions cover remote, full-time, part-time, contract and more, so there’s plenty of options.

3. Follow up with lost clients

When I say “lost clients”, I’m referring to clients you may have spoke with or sent a proposal to in the past, but didn’t win the business. Go through your email and find clients you lost 2+ months ago. Send them a follow up email asking how their project is coming along, and if there is anything you can do for them. This tactic is about being helpful and showing you care about the client. This can lead to a small project or even spark a new conversation about hiring you, if they are unhappy with their previous selection. If not, you’re still putting yourself on their radar and might see some referrals coming your way.

4. Follow up with your network

Browse through old email conversations with colleagues, connections and people you’ve spoke with in the past, who could be a fit for your business. Follow up with each, asking what they’ve been up to and how you can help.

Asking how you can help the person, whether its giving feedback, advice, tips or doing a small task, can be rewarding, and it helps you build up relationships with the right people. Remember, if you go out of your way to help someone for free, they’ll likely return the favour and help you.

5. Run an ad campaign

Facebook ads and Google Adwords are great ways to advertise your consultancy to prospective clients. Both platforms let you set a small daily budget for those that are cash-strapped, or want to test the waters. I found Facebook ads easier to use than Google Adwords, which definitely has a steep learning curve if you’re new. 

6. Start (or Restart) blogging

Blogging is an amazing way to build relationships and become an expert consultant. My first blog post ever has gotten over 15,000 visitors, 50+ comments, hundreds of newsletter subscriptions, and has introduced me to some amazing people. It was about driving lessons and dangerous parking admittedly, but it showed the power of it! Start by blogging about topics that tie into your services, and will appeal to prospective clients. You should also email each company or person you mention in the post, with a note that you’ve mentioned them. I also reach out to my network and send a link to people who I think might find my post interesting. This is usually enough to get the ball rolling and to get some traffic to the post. Blogging takes a lot of time, especially since you need to do it consistently, for better results. If you haven’t got time…out-source it and get someone else to do it!

7. Write an eBook

Write an eBook that can help solve a business challenge or create value for your prospective client. Marketer? Write an eBook on how to decrease shopping cart abandonment. Writer? Write about how copy can help a business make more money. Website designer? Write about how customer on-boarding is key to getting customers to use, and later pay for your product. Write the eBook and give it away for free or sell it on your website. If you give it away for free, be sure to capture emails in exchange for the book, that way you can build a list of prospective clients to market to.

8. Guest blog

Find blogs that your prospective clients read and ask to guest post on them. You should write about a topic that fits within the blog, but also something that readers will get tons of value out of. Guest blogging is great because you can share your expertise and grow your brand by tapping into someone else’s audience.

9. Network online and offline

Instead of sitting behind the computer all week, plan to go to a breakfast, lunch or evening networking event or a conference, where your prospective clients may be mingling. If you go to conferences and networking events where all your competitors are, you’ll have a hard time finding people that need your services. Online networking is important as well.

Complete your LinkedIn profile with up-to-date information and work samples. Import your contacts and connect with as many people in your network as possible. Share your blog posts, website and other interesting content directly to your LinkedIn news feed. Just like going to networking events or conferences that your prospective clients attend, join LinkedIn groups where they post. There are groups for every industry on LinkedIn, so this is an excellent way to get in front of prospective clients. Answer questions, offer help, post useful content and you’ll not only grow your connections, but you might also land a new gig.

10. Productise your services

Productised consulting is a powerful way to create recurring revenue and get new clients. With productised consulting, you bundle your consulting services into “package” that the client can purchase for a monthly fee. Best of all, you’re creating predictable, recurring revenue.

If you offer services like design, marketing, development, writing and so on, consider selling your offerings as a package that clients can purchase.

11. Capture leads

You might already have a contact form on your website, but this is normally used by people who are ready to hire you, or say hello. Most of the time, a potential client will browse your website, then leave – without ever contacting you. In order to establish trust and build up a relationship with visitors, you can try to capture their email by giving something away.

Give visitors an eBook (as mentioned above), a white-paper, a free 30-minute consultation or even a step-by-step guide to increase their conversion rates, in exchange for their email. You can later turn these leads into paying clients through an email campaign or by contacting them to find out more about their company. I recommend MailChimp which is so easy to use and great for capturing leads.

12. Start co-working

If you work from home, consider co-working at least once a week. Co-working spaces are great for meeting like-minded individuals and becoming part of your local community. You’ll build up strong relationships and be a go-to consultant for people at the co-working space. Most spaces also host events, meetings and conferences, which are great platforms for connecting with people and spreading your brand.

13. Always offer advice and help

A long-term strategy to bring in new clients is to help people who are connected to your prospective clients. Offer ideas, intros, feedback, thoughts or help them in any way possible with their business challenges. This is a bit different than following up with your network, mentioned earlier, because it’s an ongoing process. You might not close a client or get referrals immediately with this strategy, but it’s a proven tactic to build relationships and win new business over time.

14. Get some press

To get press for your business, you have to come up with a unique angle that would be appealing to reporters and their audience. Don’t pitch your services and company, instead act as an expert on a certain topic – increasing productivity, hiring employees, remote working, managing teams, etc.

15. Write a guide

Write a guide on a specific topic that you know your ideal customer and clients can follow. Websites are a great place to distribute your guides, along with your personal network and on social channels. Creating a guide is proven way to drive traffic, capture leads and become an authority on a topic.

16. Write a case study

Case studies show prospective clients your results and success with a particular project. A case study usually covers the client, challenges, process and results of a project or engagement. 

17. Create controversy

I’ll leave this here and not say a lot about it. Way too many people get their knickers in a twist about nothing at all. But if it’s a belief or a position you hold dear, then write, podcast or video about it. Others will believe in what you say.

If you’re going to take a similar approach, make sure you don’t cross the line by doing something harmful or illegal.

18. Speak at industry conferences

Attending conferences is great, but you should also try speaking at them. Find conferences in your industry and reach out to an organiser about speaking. Pitch them on topics you’d like to speak about, and back it up with your skills, expertise, experience, website, blog and more. This isn’t going to be for everyone, especially new consultants (or people afraid of public speaking), but its a great way to build up your personal brand and forge new relationships with a live audience.

Your Turn – Choose 3

I’ve covered some great strategies that will help new and veteran business owners land more customers and clients.

A lot of you will read this whole post, but never take action.

I want you to choose 3 strategies from the list and come up with a plan to implement them right away. Don’t make excuses – choose 3, make a plan, set some deadlines, and getting going.

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