Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Building a client base – part 2: connecting to your potential clients to create value

Posted in startups, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on July 20, 2010

The first installment in this series: Part 1: Identifying Potential Clients and Your Intended Marketplace focused on identifying your potential client base, and it went on to at least start on the issues of what types of information you need to gather and organize into a database from them. I am going to look in more detail into the issues of what data fields you do and do not want to collect and maintain and why, in the next posting in this series. This one will focus on the intermediate step in the overall process of building a client base that would come after determining who you need to reach out to, and that you have to at least start on before you can collect any client data – the step of actually connecting to potential clients and developing business relationships with them.

This is in many respects a marketing posting. An important part of your developing model for your intended marketplace demographics should be in learning not just who your potential clients are, but where they go for information and to business network. Actively connecting to your potential clients to draw them in as customers has to including their learning that you are out there and offering products or services they need, and under circumstances where they would be receptive to your message.

You are just starting a business, or you have an already established one and you find yourself in need of significant client base expansion. Either way, it is likely that cash flow and available liquidity are issues, so any marketing outreach expenses are going to have to be limited and very cost effective. So start out looking for free and low-cost options for sharing targeted messages.

• This can include participating in and marketing through online groups, and certainly LinkedIn, Facebook and other venue groups that would draw in members who would fit your target demographic profile. Are there professional organizations or other groups that the people you are trying to reach would be likely to join? You should join them too, and I add that the flow of postings that show for these groups can provide crowd-sourcing insight and help you craft a more focused message.
• Sometimes this means posting through professional organizations or their publications, and in that case online options can be both less expensive and richer in content capabilities. You can’t add working hyperlinks into a printed page the way you can with online marketing.
• A blog site offering information and insight – and discounts for readers can be useful, and so can Twitter and posting tweets.
• But you need to have at least the start of an attentive audience to make these and related marketing options work and you need to have a message to share, with fresh copy and content to keep adding on an ongoing basis. And you need to have content that fits into the basic format parameters of the channels selected. So for example, Twitter supports messages of up to 140 characters, maximum.
• So look to the information you would share with potential clients in enticing them to consider doing business with you. See how often you will have fresh copy to share, with new products and service options, industry or other information to share, sales and other potential sources of value you can offer. And make sure you can fit these information offerings into those size and bandwidth constraints.
• Tweets can and frequently do include URL’s as gateways to richer content resources such as web pages and blog postings, but make sure your URL’s are compact and easy to remember – just as you should use if you market in print and include a URL there.
• For local businesses, fliers and posters can be of real value, of course so don’t simply look to high-tech marketing and communications options and even if your products and services are technical. Consider all your options as to where your target demographics go, so you can be there too – and especially for options and opportunities your competitors are overlooking.
• And strive to develop word of mouth and viral marketing support for your business, and the best source of that is in word of mouth from satisfied customers. So make sure your early clients feel they are getting the best, and give them reason to share a positive message with their family and friends, colleagues and their own clients.

As a final thought for this posting, make sure you can identify which marketing campaign any given client lead comes in through. So if you use online marketing and offer URL’s make sure each campaign has a unique one, even if hey do point to the same pages, and use your web analytics tools for your web site to identify precise link source used. If you use emails, customize there too. For print or on-air use distinctive department routing codes, or other means to identify what message is being responded to and from where. Be creative so you have as many of the responses you get coming from identified sources, as this will help you focus your marketing outreach where it works and is most cost-effective in doing so.

Part one in this focused on identifying your target demographics and this went on to focus on reaching out to them to start a conversation and to develop business relationships. The nest posting in this series will focus on data collected.

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