There is one common thing every business needs regardless how small or large they are, customers. So how do you get them? It is common to start off a business as a result of having or knowing several customers that need your product or service. These critical customers are part of the foundation of who you are, or start off as. It is rare that these customers alone will sustain you through the years. So what do you do next? Some typical tactics are to have referral programs giving the referring contact some sort of financial or business reward. Often businesses give more then they would normally, discounts or freebies.
Giving takes from one hand, your other one!
When you decide to give away something that has the impression or is free customers then expect it every time. But, it’s not free; it is money from your pocket that you give them. It is a tricky offer to give away products or services for free. An effective technique for giving products or services for free or at a reduced cost is to re-package them. Don’t offer your premium items at a discount. This reduces there long term value and often impacts the brand image you are trying to develop. So create an all new product or service offered for a limited time. This 2 stage strategy addresses several key risks to your business. It separates easily that this item isn’t like the others and therefore won’t be confused in the future with your core products and services. Long term the sale item will be forgotten (or at least not available and replaced with a newer better product or service) and you now have a customer needing you and willing to move in to your main offerings. Lastly you will be able to reduce your selling price in order to grab new business and limit the long term impact this would have on your bottom line.
I learned this lesson early on when developing my business. I had 3 customers that started off with me and had each gained certain extras; search engine optimization, search engine marketing and keyword analysis to mention a few. This did help initially both with gaining income as well reputation, they were good references. As times went on and repeat business occurred with each of them an expectation of more for less was created. I found myself repeatedly engaged in conversations that were premised on the freebees I gave them early on. I found myself pushing higher paying stronger clients away to work for these few clients. I had to make a stand and when I did they were less then comfortable with my ‘new’ direction. They were not interested in the special deals we had made only in the increase to them. I finally released that I was feeding their families instead of mine, and that is when I drew the line.
Never under value or under sell your products or services. Over sell and gain higher quality customers to build a long lasting business.