Keeping existing customers happy is the key to long term mutually beneficial and profitable business relationships. But if you are either a/ unable to, b/ on a growth curve or c/ starting up, you need to hunt for new customers.
It isn’t complicated – like anything else it takes targeting, understanding, planning and lots of time. Some things to consider (from 13 years in the game):
1. Mass marketing is dead, especially in b2b. Work on your strengths – go after niches that you excel in (and which are profitable).
2. Telemarketing and leafleting are dead. Create a dialogue and relationships. Build up a value proposition in the mind of your prospect before you try and sell to them. Offer free whitepapers, downloads, presentations, my page logins and blogs to inspire them and give them reassurance in your expertise.
3. Ask for recommendations and referrals from your customers – you’ll be amazed at doors which may be flung open for you.
4. Use brokers/middlemen to find you ways in – agencies use people like RAR who have a list of marketers with outsourcing requirements. (It only gets expensive when you land a client!)
5. Read your news – people who are spending, setting up pitches and looking for help invariably talk about it in industry press, online and on their sites.
6. Network – use referral exchange networks, Chamber of Commerce, CIM and other industry groups/trade associations in your sector as appropriate.
7. Throughout it all, listen to them, talk their language and talk about them – not about yourself, how great you are, how all your big name clients love you, how you won all those awards.
Above all, learn – you won’t win every time but refine every time and you’ll inevitably get closer to winning new customers.