What do you need to do to grow your business?

The best way to make sure that your business grows is by getting more customers. Entrepreneurs who succeed are masters at getting more customers. More importantly, they know how to get customers and still stay profitable.

Whether you start a business or want to grow an existing one. Every business needs more customers.

Regardless of the economy. You can always find more customers.

And here many ways you can find more customers for any business:

1. Have a plan. Who is your customer? Why do they buy what you sell? What pain are you solving? What is important to you customers? Who influences their buying decisions?

2. Involve your customers from day one. Even if you don’t yet have a product, communicate with your future customers. Many failed entrepreneurs started talking with their future customers too late. It is too late to reach out when you have a finished product. The best companies develop their products with the customers.

3. Study your competition. You can learn more from your competitors than you could learn from any book or business guru. Where do they advertise? How do they differentiate themselves from others? What tactics do they use? What works for them might work for you too. Don’t think of your competition as the enemy. Think of them as your teachers.

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4. Customize. Someone else’s road to success might not work for your business. It is OK to learn from it, but forget about the cookie cutter method. Your business is unique. You have to come up with your own path to gain more customers.

5. Highlight strengths. Customers are OK with shortcomings as long as you admit to them. If you are willing to admit occasional failings, you can gain the trust of your customers.

6. Simplify your offer. Too many options will create decision paralysis and it will result in less sales. Your business has to make choosing easier. If you sell ice cream, have 10 flavors instead of 100.

7. Use urgency. Urgency and scarcity drive up sales. Set deadlines, dates, and limits.

8. Resolve pain points. To better appeal to your customers, communicate that your service or product can solve their pain points fast.

9. Network. Don’t be annoying. There are a lot of people who confuse networking with being the loudest guy in the room. Don’t be that guy. Networking is about trying to help people. When you do go out of your way to help people good things will happen for you. Most people suck as networking because they think the world owes them something.

10. Friends and family. Work your closest network. Your friends and family already like and trust you. They could become your customers or they could introduce you to your new customers. Don’t be shy, ask for the help of your friends and family.

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11. Treat referrals like gold. Many entrepreneurs take referrals for granted. Once you get a referral you should immediately thank the person who gave you the referral. At the same time, reach out to the prospect. Within a few days, circle back with the person who gave you the referral to give an update. When you do this you show respect and appreciation. This is so simple to do, yet it is almost never done.

12. Strategic partners. One of the most inexpensive way to quickly get more customers is by forming strategic partnerships. The best strategic partners are non-competing businesses with identical customer profile to yours.

13. Go above and beyond. Almost everyone thinks that they do go above and beyond, but very few actually do. Most customers appreciate it when they get more than what they had paid for and they will spread the good word about your business.

14. Mobile optimize your website. 50% or more of your customers might find your site using a mobile device. If your website isn’t responsive mobile-friendly, people will click off of it and go to your competition.

15. Offer a finders’ fee. Many people are happy to help you for free. If you can offer a finders’ fee, you give an extra reasons for people to help you find more customers.

16. Free samples. If you have a product business, giving away free samples is a great way to get people to try your products. Be strategic here. Give samples to those who are most likely to become paying customers.

17. Ask for testimonials. People trust your customer more than they trust you. Ask your customers for referrals and share them with your prospects. Include testimonials on your home page, website, emails, and proposals. Share with the world how your customers feel about your business.

18. PR – Public relations is a low cost distribution channel. If you can’t afford to hire a PR professional, you can be your own PR agent. The key here is to tell a better story than your competition. It also helps if you can customize your story for all the different verticals you are targeting. PR also helps to bring social proof like as seen on NBC, ABC, CNN, New York Times, Fox, and Success Harbor of course.

19. Create a mobile app. Pandora increased it’s customer base exponentially once they appeared in the app store, it almost doubled their growth overnight. Your app should be available for iPhones, Android, and WinPhone devices.

20. Fire bad customers. Not all customers are created equal. One of the reasons entrepreneurs don’t have time to prospect for new customers is that they are serving the wrong customers. Your time is valuable. Say “No” to clients who can’t afford your services or those with nonsensical demands.

21. Organic Search. The great thing about organic search is that it is free traffic. Optimizing your website for organic search is a smart move because most businesses ignore it. Organic search will take time and effort on your part. It is not enough to put your site online. Visitors don’t just magically appear on your website one day.

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22. Free consulting. Again, you want to be very strategic here. Offer free consulting only after you have pre-qualified the person or business.

23. Google Places. Claim your “place” in Google Places.

24. Triberr. Share your content on Triberr. Triberr is a great way to increase your readership. It helps you to share your content with other peoples’ networks.

25. YouTube channel. Create your own YouTube channel. Add training videos, how-tos, customer testimonials, and other valuable video content.

26. Slideshare. Create industry relevant presentations and share them on Slideshare. Don’t pitch, train, educate, and provide value.

27. Direct sales. This is especially effective in large ticket B2B solutions. If your business has a multi-thousand dollar customer lifetime value, a direct sales strategy might very effective.

28. Chamber of Commerce. List your business in your local Chamber’s website.

29. Relevant directories. Find industry relevant directories and list your business.

30. Create a free report. Give a free report to potential customers. The report has to be so valuable that people would pay money for it if you weren’t giving it away for free.

31. Try print advertising in multiple publications. Try several different places and ways of advertising. Instead of spending your entire advertising budget in one place, try smaller in multiple locations. Increase your advertising spend where you get better results and eliminate those that perform poorly.

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32. Test multiple online advertising options. Google adwords, Facebook, LinkedIn are only a few possible options. Also research websites your customers frequent and try advertising there.

33. Collect emails. Most business either don’t collect emails or do a poor job of it. If you ask someone to give you his email for your newsletter, your list will not grow. Let’s face it. Most people don’t want your newsletter. You have to give people a really good reason the part with their emails. Offer something valuable.

34. Email regularly. Even if you only have 50 people in your email list. The key to email marketing is to do it regularly and to provide value. Your emails should mostly be about helping your customers. Only focus about 10% on selling, and give 90% of the time.

35. Integrate. If you have a software product, integrate with other companies.

36. Buy leads. Buying leads can be expensive, but it is a great way to quickly attract new customers. A lead can be a name and email address, phone number, or address. The biggest problem with leads is that they are sold multiple times to different companies, so the conversion can be low and you will mostly compete on price.

37. Content marketing. A great way to establish yourself as an industry authority is through strategic content marketing. You can educate through your blog, inform with podcasts, train through videos, show through how-tos, and the list goes on-and-on. Great content is entertaining, informational, full of utility, and it includes call to action.

38. Social media marketing. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn are some of the most popular social networks where your customers hang out. Build a presence and interact with people. The majority of your efforts should be on interaction instead of selling.

39. Craigslist. Craigslist is one of the world’s largest marketplace. You can sell and buy almost anything there. You can post and ad for free to advertise your business.

40. Local papers. Read your local newspaper and other local publications. You can find out a lot about your community. If you have a B2B focus you could learn about new businesses that opened in your community.

41. Create events. Organizing events is a great way to get in-front of new people. You could organize sports or cultural events or business mixers. When you are the organizer you can do whatever your want. You can set the agenda. You can get your own sponsors. You can partner with other businesses.

42. Affiliate programs. Your affiliate partners could become your best sales channel. While affiliate marketing can be very effective you want to be very selective about who you invite to be an affiliate partner. There many affiliate networks you can sign up with or create your own. Affiliates must be managed. It is not a set it and forget it tactic.

43. Sponsor events. You might not be ready to create your own events, but you could still participate in someone else’s event. Become a sponsor.

44. Attend events your customers attend. Participate in the most visited events your customers attend.

45. Follow up after meetings. There are so many people who drop the ball after meetings. If you are not strategic about your follow up efforts, you have ended up wasting your time. It is important to follow up shortly after you meet someone in person. Don’t wait weeks. Follow up within 48-hours. If you don’t get a response, follow up again. Most people will appreciate your follow up because it is almost never done.

46. Reach out to your LinkedIn contacts. LinkedIn is a great way to get more business clients. Don’t spam. Send one-to-one messages to people without being too salesy. Focus on making a connection instead of trying to sell right away.

47. Referral programs. They are different from affiliate programs. Referral programs are especially effective when you involve your existing customers to spread the word about your business. The reward can be cash, or credit.

48. Ask for feedback from those who don’t buy. Find out why prospects don’t buy from you. You will learn important things about your product, your business and your competition from those who decide to buy from someone else.

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photo credit: Mrs Atha’s