edited by Matteo D’Agostino
graduated in Philosophy and Computer Science, he specialised in web marketing at the University of California and Oxford College of Marketing.
Methods and tools to find new customers online and off-line
To keep your business alive and not succumb to competition, every entrepreneur needs to look for (and find) new customers. Some will try the product or service only once, others will discover the brand and follow it for years to come (loyalty process). In all cases, the time spent searching for new customers will not have to go to the detriment of other occupations, such as job management, relationships with suppliers and so on.
Nowadays every entrepreneur can choose from a wide range of methods and tools that are effective off-line or in the digital environment. Setting goals, targets and operating area is the first step in deciding which direction to move and how much to spend.
In this guide we propose 13 different strategies valid in 2019 to search for new clients with short, medium and long term investments.
In this guide we propose 13 different strategies valid in 2019 to search for new clients with short, medium and long term investments.
HOW TO LOOK FOR CUSTOMERS: OFF-LINE MARKETING STRATEGIES
- ADVERTISING ON NEWSPAPERS, RADIO AND TELEVISION CHANNELS
The term advertising refers essentially to traditional advertising, in the form of television commercials, newspaper advertisements or radio promotion. It is the type of marketing still dominant today, but with often prohibitive costs. A few seconds of advertising on a local network or half a page of advertising in a regional newspaper can cost several thousand euros, given that the production costs (copywriting, video footage, graphics) are added to the service fees. Absurdly, advertising is also among the few strategies without measurable ROI, so you know how much you spend to try to acquire new customers but you don’t know how much results this investment has generated.
PROS: wide audience
CONS: non measurable ROI, generic target, high costs
- TELEMARKETING, FROM PHONE CALLS TO CALL CENTER
Telemarketing is still very popular today, with an intense search for new customers through the classic phone call. In this case, we talk of cold contacts, indicating the relationship between the company (or the professional) and the potential customer. Phone in hand, thousands of entrepreneurs have promoted their business starting from the bottom, phone call after phone call, but it is clear that finding customers in this way requires a huge amount of time and of energy. Call centres are the answer to those who wish to delegate the telemarketing activity, but you must also understand here at what price and with what results.
PROS: blanket advertising
CONS: Trust declining, ROI difficult to monitor
- PUBLIC RELATIONS (EVENTS, TRADE FAIRS, ETC.)
Taking care of public relations is still today the main tool of many small and mediumsized businesses to look for new customers. In a nutshell, it is necessary to participate in all the events of interest, selected from time to time based on the public and therefore the expected target. The presence at events, trade fairs, festivals and opportunities to meet potential customers will allow a live promotion of the brand (usually the most incisive), feeding word of mouth and opening new business possibilities. Prices, on the other hand, remain high, especially when considering that the attendance fee should be added to the cost of setting up the stand, the transport of the products, the overnight stay and the salary of any employees and collaborators for fair days.
PROS: personal contact, target audience
CONS: high costs, non-measurable ROI
- SPONSORSHIP OF TEAMS, ASSOCIATIONS, EVENTS
Among the best off-line strategies for the acquisition of new customers in the local area (municipality, province or region) we find sponsorship, or the direct or indirect contribution to teams, associations, non-profit organisations, sporting events and more in exchange for promoting the brand in various forms. The beneficiary of the sponsorship, individual or group, offers the company one or more tools to gain visibility, from printing the logo on the uniforms to signage, from inserting the brand in merchandising to the production of dedicated newspaper articles. Even here, as with the vast majority of off-line tools, calculating the return on Investment is impossible. It is intuitive and it is hoped that the sponsor’s object will be successful, thus maximising the user base. A positive note is the relationship between the public and costs, so with low investment, you can reach a large number of people.
PROS: excellent at local level, wide public, sustainable costs
CONS: Non-measurable ROI, negative image risk
- PERSONAL SELLING (DOOR TO DOOR AND NETWORK MARKETING)
The last of the main strategies to find new customers is personal selling, intended as direct sales of a product or service through representatives or collaborators of the network. An example now fallen into disuse is the door to door, replaced in recent years by network marketing, a system in which people earn a certain commission from sales generated directly and indirectly. Famous brands that take almost exclusively this approach are Leprechaun, Gialean or HerbaLife. To create such a system or even just to organize a good network of representatives a huge expenditure of energy and resources is needed, bearing in mind that the return on investment will in no case be immediate.
PROS: Measurable ROI, expenses consistent with earnings
CONS: continuous turn over of employees, poor control
HOW TO LOOK FOR CUSTOMERS: ONLINE MARKETING STRATEGIES
- DIGITAL PERSONAL BRANDING AND PUBLIC RELATIONS
The first strategy that comes to mind when moving from off-line to digital is personal branding, accompanied by online PR activities. The personal brand should be understood in this sense not only as a promotion of the “person” (musician, writer, consultant) but also of the brand and therefore of the company. Through social channels, emails and applications (think for example of Messanger or WhatsApp), entrepreneurs in charge of the brand can do personal branding, but also employees, partners and retailers alike. The limits and unknowns remain valid in the off-line promotion, so cold contacts, long times to take care of relationships and ROI difficult to measure.
PROS: reduced costs, endless potential audience
CONS: ROI difficult to measure, reputation to build
- WEBSITE WITH NEWS SECTION OR SUPPORT BLOG
Websites and ecommerce are the basis to search for new customers via the Internet. Fundamental is the design and creation of a website with modern performance, rich in quality content, easy to navigate even from mobile devices and optimised for search engines. The presence of a news section orof an updated support blog (https://www.eviblu.it/gestione-blog/) with fresh and targeted news is a further requirement to leverage to broaden the user base and generate leads ( conversions).
PROS: short operating times, automatic 24H promotion, endless potential audience, low costs
CONS: technical skills required, high competition (everyone has a site)
- AFFILIATE MARKETING ON PORTALS, SITES AND BLOGS
For those who have a website or eCommerce, it is possible to invest in affiliate marketing, a promotion system in which the brand is advertised within portals and other sites or blogs via banners or links. In principle, whenever a user, by clicking on the banner or link, arrives at the site to be promoted and takes action (books a room, leaves their email address, buys a product, etc.), the affiliate earns a percentage, which is why all programme members are encouraged to give maximum visibility to registered companies. The market is in the hands of a large group of platforms, Italian but above all foreign, where to register and participate at specific conditions and rates. Here ROI measurement is mathematical, on the other hand competition remains high and fierce.
PROS: ease of management, immediacy, worldwide distribution, measurable ROI
CONS: high competition, risk of damage to the image if links and banners are placed in wrong contexts.
- DISPLAY ADVERTISING, FROM BANNER TO POP UP
The display advertising differs from the affiliate marketing for the field of action and the tools, slightly differently: while the affiliate marketing takes place through very specific platforms and only on the registered sites, the display advertising can be done theoretically everywhere, in particular on magazines and blogs with good traffic numbers. It is the latter that propose “virtual spaces” where you can publish banners, videos or other graphic elements. Alternatively, the web agency in charge will be able to hire influencers, bloggers and contact persons and manage the bargaining of space for the fore-seen period. Tracking systems depend on the quality of the offer and can define the ROI more accurately.
PROS: low prices, almost unlimited number of channels
CONS: complex research and mediation activities, ROI not always measurable
- CONTINUOUS MANAGEMENT OF SOCIAL MEDIA (WITH ADV)
Another solution to acquire new customers in the digital world is social media and therefore the continuous management of one or more social networks. Attention to the adjective “continuous”: it is not enough to open the Facebook page or the Instagram profile, you must keep every social network started with a publication of posts in the target, from a minimum of two per week to a maximum of one or two per day. If we add advertising (paid advertising) to normal management, all the better. It is also true that not all customers are on social networks: some business sectors face serious difficulties in generating engagement, so it is better to carefully evaluate the opportunity to be present or not in that social media or others. On the cost side, the budget to consider is quite high because it has to include several items, from the social media manager’s activity to spending on advertising.
PROS: target audience, unlimited scope
CONS: costs incurred, delicate planning, required at least 6 months of professional management to see the first results
- VIRAL MARKETING ON YOUTUBE, FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM
How many times have you thought that you too could make that famous video on Youtube and get millions of views? In fact, in the age of the Internet, there is no need to have great technical skills, what is needed is to have good ideas. Like viruses, so videos and viral contents spread at the speed of light, transforming a perfect stranger into a world famous star (historical in this regard the success of the song, and the video clip, Gangnam Style). It applies to people but it also applies to companies, always looking for new viral content to which they can engage the audience of potential customers.
PROS: low costs, extraordinary marketing possibilities
CONS: massive competition, demand attitude and inventiveness
- PAY-PER-CLICK AND ADVERTISING WITH GOOGLE ADWORDS
Often proposed as a panacea to all evils, pay-per-click and advertising on Google Ad-Words is the search for new customers through the publication of paid ads. The latter will appear within organic research results, typically at the top, thus ensuring considerable visibility to the paying company. However, a big limitation of PPC and advertising is found in the selection of the public, much less precise than what happens for example on Facebook. Looking for new customers, if you do not take the necessary measures, can ultimately mean shooting in the pile, wasting time and precious money. The fact remains that in the digital field there is no tool capable of ensuring such visibility in zero time, which is useful, for example, when the brand is unknown or on the occasion of the launch of new products or services.
PROs: immediate visibility, endless potential customers, measurable ROI, low costs
CONS: public not always faithful to the imposed parameters
- SEARCH MARKETING, FROM ANALYSIS TO SEO
The 12 strategies to search for and acquire new customers and promote a brand that we have listed so far have a common denominator: when the budget or activity ends, the results stop. If we stop updating Facebook, the interactions will stop. If we do not renew the sponsorship of the team, the public will no longer get to know us. If we finish the AdWords budget, the next minute our company no longer exists. Fortunately, this corollary has one exception: search marketing. As the name suggests, search market-ing is promotion through Google searches (and not only). With activities such as keyword and site analysis, content production, code optimisation, and so on, we can aim to emerge in search results without budget and time limits. A site or an eCommerce positioned for the keywords of interest will remain in place for the years to come, thanks to a simple maintenance work sometimes not even indispensable. The investment, in this case, is remarkable because we have to take care of a large number of aspects, but the economic return, in the long run, is huge and there are examples of brands that “live on income” by virtue of the positioning achieved with the work of SEO and optimisation.
PROS: results that last even after investment, specific target, a constant flow of contacts ready for negotiation, easy integration with other instruments
CONS: long term perspective
LOOKING FOR NEW CUSTOMERS: THE MARKETING MIX OF EVIBLU
After reading this article you will understand that only one strategy is often reductive. If we want to find the right customers, we need to draw up a coherent action plan, primarily focusing on search marketing and, if necessary, using support solutions. At Eviblu we have created an exclusive service, dedicated to professionals and companies who want to search (and find) new customers via the web, without spending a fortune and with possibilities to monitor your spending results and budget with absolute precision. Test us and discover the difference!
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