Where the heck do you find your clients? As a business owner, this is the question I get asked the most by far!
Many aspiring entrepreneurs get so hung up on how to get clients that they never take action on their ideas. This was my biggest fear when I decided to start my own business, and it paralyzed me for months. Can you relate?
Here’s what I wish someone would have told me when I was starting out: building a business is all about building relationships. You don’t need a massive Instagram following, tons of money to spend on advertising, or even a live website to start growing your business. (Seriously – I landed my first three clients as a copywriter and WEBSITE DESIGNER before my own website was even up.)
These five organic growth strategies will give you some new ideas for how to start building relationships with prospective clients and people in your industry. They’re what got my business off the ground, and I know they’ll do the same for yours!
How to Get Clients for Your Service-Based Business: 5 Top Strategies
Whether you’re finding your first clients or are looking to fill openings in your calendar, one thing is paramount to remember: successful businesses are built on successful relationships.
This is why organic growth is the way to go, especially in the beginning stages of your business. Rather than relying on paid ads to get more eyes on your brand, put consistent effort into these five strategies. Brick by brick, you’ll gradually build trust with your leads, and your client list and revenue will begin to grow!
1. Word of Mouth
In this day and age, it seems like most people tend to focus on social media as their chief method of marketing. This isn’t a bad thing, and it can be a highly effective strategy in the long-run.
But social media followings typically take a long time to grow, and you don’t have time to wait for a fickle algorithm to decide it likes your content. You need clients, like yesterday.
Word of mouth is hands-down the growth strategy that has impacted my business the most. Why is it so effective? Because we tend to trust the opinions and recommendations of people who we know in real life.
When I first started my business, I was terrified to tell anyone about it. I was so afraid of what other people would think, and I felt like an imposter every time I mustered up the courage to utter the phrase “my business.”
But over time, I started to realize that unless I spoke confidently about my business, no one else would have confidence in it, either. It took time, but eventually, I was able to answer the question, “What do you do?” with confidence and ease.
As soon as I got clear on what I was offering, who I was offering it for, and why, I was able to speak so much more confidently about my business and the goals I had for it. The excitement I had for my business was contagious, and people started getting excited for me! As a result, they were much more likely to send clients my way.
When I started landing those first few clients, I made sure to overdeliver. I did my best to make my clients’ experience simple, streamlined, and memorable, and I focused on good communication. After a while, those clients started referring people to me and mentioning my business on their social media channels!
So, while it may seem old-school, don’t sleep on word of mouth. It will likely become the biggest driver in your business, especially in the early stages.
PUT THIS IDEA INTO ACTION:
- Write down your elevator pitch, and practice delivering it the next time someone asks, “What do you do?”
- Find and attend a networking event in your area.
- Send an email to your friends and family about your business, and ask them to keep you in mind if they know of anyone who needs your service.
- Post about your business on your personal social media accounts.
2. Industry Referrals
Similar to word of mouth, industry referrals are referrals that come from other businesses and professionals within your specific niche, and they have the potential to put your business on the map!
To start getting industry referrals, you’ll need to build relationships with other service-providers in your industry.
These people don’t necessarily need to be providing the exact same services as you. In fact, it’s an even better idea to find entrepreneurs and businesses who provide services that are complementary to your own.
For example, if you’re a wedding photographer, seek out relationships with other wedding professionals like videographers, wedding planners, and caterers. This way, the next time one of them books a wedding, he or she will recommend your services, too. And you can return the favor!
After someone in your industry recommends your services, be sure to show your gratitude. I like to send a small gift with a thank-you card whenever someone refers a new client. Small gestures like this go a long way – people continue to send clients my way because they know I value and appreciate them!
To start carving out a space in your industry, look for opportunities to connect with other service-providers in your niche online, whether through forums, Facebook groups, or service-provider directories.
PUT THIS IDEA INTO ACTION:
- Join a Facebook group for professionals in your industry.
- Apply for partner programs to get your business listed in service-provider directories.
- Find and reach out to someone in your niche who’s been in business longer than you have, and ask to pick their brain.
- Send a small gift or thank-you card to each person who refers a new client to you.
3. Content Marketing
While it tends to be a slower, long-term growth strategy, content marketing is a method you’ll wish you started sooner. Content marketing involves creating and sharing information that relates to your business in a way that builds trust with your prospective clients.
The phrase “Content is King” has never been more true than it is today! When you create valuable content for your ideal client – whether it’s an article, video, or social media post – you’re able to demonstrate your expertise and build connections with the people you most want to serve.
The benefits of regular content creation don’t stop there! Consistently publishing valuable content on your website will also boost your SEO, meaning you’ll increase your website’s chances of appearing in search engine results.
Over time, Google will start to recognize your website as a relevant source of information for your niche, and more people will find their way to your website. More qualified website traffic equals more leads for your business!
If you’re not sure how to start content marketing for your business, begin by choosing just one or two platforms where you can commit to showing up consistently. Think about the types of content you enjoy creating, and consider which platforms your ideal clients spend their time on. Then, start publishing regular content that addresses their needs.
PUT THIS IDEA INTO ACTION:
- Brainstorm a list of topics your ideal client would be interested in learning about.
- Commit to creating content on just one or two platforms (i.e. a blog, YouTube channel, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok), and decide on your posting frequency.
4. Email Marketing
If you don’t think you can get new clients for your service-based business through email marketing, think again! Across industries, email marketing remains one of the most effective organic marketing strategies out there.
Don’t believe me? Check out this statistic: on average, for every dollar you spend on email marketing, you’ll receive a return of $42. That’s a 4,200% return on investment! No other marketing or communication channel can beat it.
There are so many reasons why I love email marketing, but one of the biggest reasons is because it builds relationships. And remember what I said at the beginning of this article? Building a business is all about building relationships.
Your email list is a direct line of communication between you and people who have expressed a desire to hear from you. It’s one of the best ways to get new leads, to get feedback on the offers you’re creating, and to promote your services.
To make the most of your email list, don’t just treat it like a sales channel. You’re a service provider, so make serving your primary goal. Then, when it comes time to sell, your subscribers will feel like they’ve gotten so much value from your free content and will be more likely to buy into your offer.
PUT THIS IDEA INTO ACTION:
- Sign up for an email marketing software to start collecting your audience’s emails.
- Create one or two valuable email opt-ins to incentivize people to sign up for your email list.
- Write an automated email sequence that your subscribers will receive in the days after signing up for your list. In this sequence, introduce them to your signature service or core offering.
- Decide how frequently you’ll email your list, and create a sending schedule.
5. Pitch Your Services
This final strategy is one some entrepreneurs are afraid or unwilling to do. Online marketing has, in some ways, become so impersonal that we forget real human beings are on the receiving end of our posts, emails, and campaigns!
But here’s a secret – successful marketing always puts people first.
When I was looking for my first few clients for my business, I was hesitant to send email pitches to people I had never met. I certainly didn’t want to annoy anyone, and I had gotten pitch emails from people in the past that, I’ll admit, I had dragged straight into the trash.
But I knew there were people out there whose businesses I could help improve! So I swallowed my pride, found people I was excited to work with, and reached out to them. And you know what happened? It worked.
Because I had focused on them and specific ways I could help them, I not only was able to land contracts, but I also formed some great working relationships with people I admired.
So, how can you do this too? Don’t just create an email template that describes your services and send it out willy-nilly. Be intentional about who you reach out to, do your research on them, and lead with how you can help.
And, most importantly, be human.
PUT THIS IDEA INTO ACTION:
- Compile a list of people you think would genuinely benefit from your services. (You can pull from people you know in real life, or find them online.)
- Write personalized emails to your potential clients explaining how you found them and how you think you might be able to help them.
- Repeat and tweak your pitch emails until you start seeing results.
Now, you don’t have to wonder how to get clients for your service-based business. Remember to keep building relationships at the forefront of your mind, and your business will begin to grow as a result.
Try out these five strategies, and comment below to let me know how they worked for you!