9 Ways to Get Paying Customers

Customer Acquisition

You may have created a time-saving device that walks your dog around the block while you watch the ball game and chug a six-pack of Pabst. But unless you have customers willing to buy your marvelous invention as a gateway to becoming an even bigger couch potato than they already are, you have no business. And, as everyone knows, customers don't meander around the park waiting to be rounded up by sheepdogs and driven to your front porch. You are going to have to work for them, buster.

Here are nine tried and tested ways to get customers and keep them.

1. Dinner hosting

The best formula here is to invite 50% of your guests from your existing customer pool and 50% from your prospects list.

Invite 0% of the pissed-off customers who scored you two out of ten for customer service. They'll turn up for the free food and rip your rep into confetti-sized pieces before the dessert trolley rolls up with the Danish.

Nothing too Cordon Bleu needed here, not even a casual gourmet rack of lamb. Start at entry level with bowls of Nachos and tubs of Walmart bargain basement dips. People matter more than the food - unless the choice is between my uncle Henry and a liter of Trader Joe's guacamole, in which case the guacamole is your best bet.

2. Community Building

This is the next step. As with dinner hosting, take a humble approach. Prefer the happy-hour get-together over the three-ring circus. Remember that every establishment's raison d'etre for a happy hour is to sell enormous amounts of hard liquor in a pile-em-high-sell-em-cheap marketing style.

Keeping your prospects in line in a watering hole with happy hours that turnover more than a Prohibition-era speak-easy will be challenging. Get it right, however, and you will end up with more customers. They'll be the kind that remembers your pitch, of course.

3. Short Webinars

Live webinars are, with few exceptions, fraught with danger. Technology gremlins will come out in force (count on it.) Like a lion tamer, you'll have the crowd's attention when he gingerly inserts his head into the lion's mouth. Still, you always run the risk that the lion has a bad hair day or something and decides, in full view of your audience, to chew your head clean off your shoulders in a decidedly less than gingery King-of-the-jungle sort of way. Always use pre-recorded webinars for maximum comfort.

Keep them short too. Any webinar, the duration of which prompts attendees to bring sandwiches and a six-pack of Doctor Peppers, should set alarm bells ringing. A short video of between 5 and 15 minutes will, on most occasions, get the job done.

4. Customer visits

Personal contact wins hands down every time. Tell the customer you are due in on the red-eye from Boston next week and you want to put like-minded guys and gals around a bistro booth to get their views on your current growth plan. They'll bite your arm off for an invite.

5. Killer blog content

Aiming for top-drawer blog posts will prove costly, but there are benefits to be reaped. A few thousand carefully and professionally crafted words alloyed to bespoke design graphics will make your website climb to the top of the Empire State Building and beat its chest like King Kong in no time. Yes, it'll cost you, but there is no such thing as a free lunch.

6. Conversion rate optimization

Set a seemingly small but actually significant target regarding conversion rates. For the sake of the math-averse, I'll avoid using fractions to demonstrate that, for example, increasing conversion from 0.25% to 1.0% quadruples your starting figure (whoops, I used fractions after all! Sorry.)

Look for improvements in simplifying your key messages or clarify the benefits to clients of signing up for your offer. You could include testimonials. Prospective clients want to know what their peers think of your services. Overall, remember that if your website stinks like a month-old salami, you won't be able to give away stuff from its pages. So put some effort into it.

7. YouTube shorts

A rapidly developing area in social media. These quickly put-together 1-minute pieces to the camera provide a portal to greater discoverability through more comprehensive video offerings. Stick to the messages you wish to convey, though. Any attempts on your part to channel Paul Newman or Meryl Streep will fail.

8. Podcasts

Podcasts command high levels of loyalty. The same cautions apply to producing your own YouTube shorts apply to podcasting. Watch that you stay within the sun here. Before pressing the record button, repeat to yourself several times, 'I am not Walter Cronkite.' That should keep you grounded.

9. Making offers that customers cannot refuse

Again, cautions apply. As the crow flies, the distance between 'an offer that cannot be refused' and 'filing for administration because you've parceled up the farm and given it away for free could be measured using a yardstick. Follow standard due diligence, however, and you can allow your IP to be used for a short period free of charge. Also worth a go is to switch on premium features of your software with the expectation that interested parties will be enticed into upgrading and, of course, pay more for the privilege.

As a final caution, curb your enthusiasm, at least at the outset. You cannot do all of these things simultaneously. Attempts to do so will only produce wishy-washy results. Pick one or two initially and give those your all.