1148, RE: Where to find customers|
Posted by Steve Patrick, Mon Jul-21-08 03:10 AM
I don't want to rain on your parade but - WHY IN THE WORLD WOULD YOU START A BUSINESS WITHOUT FIRST DETERMINING IF THERE IS A NEED/DESIRE/DEMAND FOR YOUR PRODUCT/SERVICE IN YOUR AREA AND WHERE IT WILL BE COMING FROM? Without that knowledge, the business will last only as long as your money can keep it afloat.
You say you tried this a couple of years ago. Was it at all successful then? If it failed, why? Go back to it and do a business autopsy to find the cause of death. While there are many causes, most businesses fail simply because they can't generate enough sales (if the top line is healthy and growing, the bottom line will take care of itself, if you are at all competent).
Did you have any customers before (or just friends and relatives)? If so, what did they have in common? How old were they? Did they have children? Where did they live? Where did they work? What shift did they work? What was their income level? Married? Single? What kind of car did they drive? Why did they come to you in the first place? Just about every business has a core group of customers with similar traits. Once you determine your core group, you look for more people who share the same traits. You have to be able to answer - "WHO IS MY MOST LIKELY CUSTOMER?"
Who is your competition? Why are they successful (or not)? Are there similar businesses outside of your area that are successful? How are they doing it? Take the owner to lunch or dinner and ask how they do it - most successful people love to tell you their story. Are there any other mobile auto service type of businesses (locksmith, windshield repair, towing, etc.) that you can partner with?
Apply all these answers to your new business. Until you know that there's enough out there to give you a promising start, proceed with caution. This is basic stuff - business 101.
Don't confuse marketing with sales. In the simplest form, marketing is lead generation, sales is lead conversion. Your marketing materials should include a "call to action", something that creates a need to act quickly (free offer/new customer discount/seasonal special, etc.). The idea is to get them to call in. Passing out business cards alone just doesn't cut it.
Get in with a local business networking group. You will get a chance to tell your story to everyone in attendance. Ask for feedback. If someone isn't interested - ask why not. Take notes. Those answers will tell you more about what needs to be done to make it desireable for them to ultimately become your customer.