A new subscriber emailed me recently to say that his biggest challenge is identifying and contacting potential customers. He’s not alone.

Most businesses struggle to identify and attract new customers (or clients, members, patients, etc.). Unless you have a hotter-than-hot product that will fly off the shelf forever – and no one does – then you need a constant pipeline of prospects. And that’s not easy for large organizations with big marketing and sales staffs, let alone for the rest of us.

That said, here are four ideas to get you unstuck.

Reassess your market.

Large marketplace

A recent episode of The Profit featured a company that makes artistic-looking soundproofing equipment. It was a great product (think sound-proofing your conference room with artwork rather than drab, gray panels). But they had no idea where to sell. While they were focused on AV geeks (mostly professional recording studios & home theaters), it was evident that they were missing a much larger pool of prospects, including restaurants and corporate spaces.

Have you accurately identified your audience? Are you looking too narrowly or even perhaps too widely?

Mine LinkedIn.

Ignore the news feed (aka, LinkedIn’s attempt to get us to spend more time on LinkedIn). Connections are where it’s at.

LinkedIn can be a terrific way to identify prospective customers or clients, especially on the B2B side. For example, set up keyword searches and let the platform send you a weekly list of people who fit that parameter. Or sift through your friends and colleagues connections. Create a prospect list and ask your connections whether they would be willing to make an introduction. Most us will when the “ask” is right and the connection makes sense.

Test social ads.

Facebook

Don’t overlook digital advertising, especially on the B2C side.

Both Facebook and Twitter have robust advertising platforms that make it easy to macro- or micro-target. Facebook can be an effective way to boost quality content, drive sales, and even generate sign-ups for a new product or service you might be launching soon. The good news is you don’t need a huge budget to make an impact.

Network wisely.

Networking is not the same as shoving your business card into someone’s hand. (Please don’t do that.) Networking is about building relationships, so people think of you and want to do business with you. We often think of networking as going out to an event – and you need to do some of this in your local business market. But choose where you go wisely. Where are your prospects hanging out? Too many people make the mistake of going where they’re comfortable, but sometimes you need to leave your comfort zone to make new connections. In addition, don’t discount online networking, such as making friends via a Twitter chat, in a Facebook group, or through sharing nonwork interests online.

Work doesn’t drop in your lap.

Now that you have a strategy, it’s easy peasy right?

If only.

As I said upfront, business development is hard work. If it were easy, everyone would be a marketer (and I’d be looking for a new business model).

That said, this stuff works.

The key to networking and all things business development is that you have to be both consistent and patient. Work will drop in your lap, but it will come from all the efforts you made before.

Feature photo by Brooke Lark (Unsplash); Market by Jerry Kiesewetter (Unsplash); and Facebook by William Iven (Unsplash). 

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