How do I get customers?

As a retail store you will need a good location, attractive signage,  mailers,  and ads going out to your community to encourage folks to walk into your store. Once in your store, customers will buy if your products and service meet their needs.

As a home-based business you’ll have to work hard to make your services known since you don’t have the visibility of a retail store. Many homebased gift basket business owners join their chamber or a network of business owners.

Your first customers often are your relatives and friends. But soon you will need to seek customers elsewhere.

There are several sources, but networking is the easiest and most affordable way to build a customer base. Your most effective networking takes place among the kind of customers you would like to get. Think about where they gather.

Business networks are the most common. A variety of professions are represented and members often count on leads from each other. They meet regularly, sometimes having weekly breakfast and dinner meetings. Some of these are very structured, like BNI, allowing only one per person per profession and requiring members to bring referrals to each meeting.

Other business networks like the Chamber of Commerce are more casual. Members are business people in your community who meet monthly, hold mixers and often have speakers to acquaint you with legislation and changes in your community. You will often get to meet civic leaders. There is no restriction on how many members of a given profession may join.

Community service clubs are a great way to build relationships with other business owners in your community. Although no overt networking may take place you get to know other members, build friendships and serve your community through special projects. Examples of this type of group are  Elks, Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions and Soroptomists.

Women’s business organizations have become very popular and powerful with the growth of women business owners in the 1970’s and 1980’s. These groups are typically concerned with education and professional development along with networking. A popular example is the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO)

In  2001 following the September 11 attacks, Scott Heiferman noted how people in New York City came together to help strangers in their community. From this experience he decided to create a way for community memebers to connect with others who share an interest or cause. He helped create http://www.meetup.com  When you visit this site you will discover a wide range of groups in your community who meet for social, business, spiritual and other reasons. If you don’t find a group that suit you, start your own.

No matter which of the many types of groups you join there are several tips to help you benefit from membership.

  • Attend meetings regularly
  • Develop a strong and memorable 30 second introduction.
  • Carry an ample supply of business cards with your information and a call to action.
  • Collect business cards from others. Make notes on the back about what you learn about the member.
  • Follow up the next week with the members you met.
  • Show genuine interest in the other members by learning about their businesses and offering them tips or leads.

Once you begin to attract customers, you must market to them frequently. Get loads of marketing ideas, from our two-part audio programs 99 Sizzling Marketing Ideas to Make More Money, Jan. through June, and 99 More Sizzling Marketing Ideas to Make More Money, July through Dec


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