Clients are the lifeblood of a business – any business. Whether you’re in retail, tech, legal, or virtually any other industry, you need to attract clients and keep drawing them in to gain traction and find success for your startup.
That can be challenging when you have no current clients, no reviews, no brand recognition, and no referral program or partners, on top of a minimal marketing budget.
Fortunately, you don’t need to worry about hundreds and hundreds of clients at first. All you need is the first 10 to gain momentum for your business and get the ball rolling, which can take you from zero clients to hundreds – or even thousands.
What Is Client Acquisition?
Client acquisition is a strategy to bring new clients to your business. Like marketing, it has a strategy and techniques that are used to attract and motivate prospects to choose to onboard with your business.
Your client acquisition strategy should be designed around sustainability and the long-term. You want to build systems and processes that continuously bring in new clients, even as your business grows.
The key difference between client acquisition and marketing is the goal. Marketing goals may include brand awareness, lead generation, sales, and more. Client acquisition is entirely focused on drawing in prospects and converting them into paying clients.
Getting the First 10 Clients
Starting from zero is the toughest part of client acquisition. The idea of growing your business to a million-dollar business may seem overwhelming – impossible, even.
It sounds a little more attainable when you think of taking your brand-new business and getting those first 10 clients. Instead of focusing on the future goal, just work on the first step of getting those 10 clients. Then, you can turn them into a continuous flow of paying clients in the future.
Determine Your Target Audience
The audience should always be the key to your client acquisition strategy. You must know your audience inside and out to create messaging that resonates with them and gets them to pay attention to your business.
If your business has a wide or diverse focus, such as a law firm, defining an audience can be difficult. Law firms often have multiple practice areas, such as divorce law, custody law, and property division. You may have different audiences with different needs and expectations.
Because of this, you need to segment your audience to craft unique and targeted messaging for each of them, rather than casting a wide net and sending out a vague message.
Create Valuable Content
Content marketing is an effective method for promoting your brand and boosting your credibility. Best of all, content marketing does so organically, without forceful, traditional sales methods. You can use a variety of content to promote your brand, including blogs, articles, videos, whitepapers, infographics, and case studies, all of which address different aspects of the customer journey and answer different questions and concerns.
This is effective because people look for information online. Your prospect may be going through a tough divorce and seeking information about the process. If you have resources that answer frequently asked questions or describe the general timeline of a divorce case, you answer the prospect’s question and begin to build a relationship.
Leverage Your Unique Value Proposition
Everyone seeks a business to address a problem or need. With a law firm, someone is dealing with a legal issue and needs professional prenuptial agreement guidance. With a home contractor, someone needs repairs or remodels to their home and is looking to hire a professional to do the work.
No matter what the prospect is looking for, you have to show the prospect your value and how you can help with their problems or concerns. Your messaging should always reinforce your value to your clients and what you have to offer.
Create an Email List
Email marketing is valuable for client acquisition, especially for service-based businesses. You must put in time to build an email list that’s actually interested in your content, but it’s worth the returns.
Avoid getting impatient and purchasing an email list. You only want to connect with people who subscribe to your list and expressed a desire to receive content and communications from you. If you were to just buy your list, you could waste your time and money, only to end up with people who aren’t interested in your business.
You should always offer something in return for your subscriber’s email address, such as a discount or exclusive downloadable content. Make sure it’s something worthwhile for your subscribers, and not just a blog they could get for nothing on your website.
Consider Your Entire Network
Clients can come from a lot of different places, including your existing network. In fact, many businesses have friends and family as their first clients, and this is a good way to get the momentum going for your business.
Always look for opportunities to draw in new clients. You don’t want to be pushy when you pitch, but get comfortable speaking about your business and sharing what you have to offer. You never know when that conversation may lead to a client referral for a friend of a friend, coworker, or distant relative.
Ask for Feedback
Your client’s feedback matters, even if you only have a few. Getting reviews and testimonials from these first few clients can help you build social proof and trust in your business to bring in more clients in the future.
This is also an opportunity for you to improve and make the experience better for your future clients. These first clients put trust in you without reviews or other social proof to go on, and their insights into your business offer a lot of value.
Don’t Disregard Anyone
Clients may come from places you least expect. A chance encounter while you’re running errands or in line for your morning coffee can spur a conversation about your business, and you don’t know where that could lead.
Remember that everyone is a possible client – don’t disregard anyone. Even if someone seems like they wouldn’t need your services, you don’t know whether their family member, friend, coworker, or acquaintance may.
Build Your Business’s Future
Client acquisition is a long-term strategy, but building the foundation now with your first 10 clients sets the stage for your next hundred or thousand clients. Start with a strategy that works for your business in its current stage, but can be scaled and adapted to serve your needs in the future.
Maxwell Hills is the founder of Hills Law Group, a premier Orange County family law firm with a concentration on high net worth divorces. Max’s entrepreneurial career stretches back to his teenage days when he had his music used in Grey’s Anatomy and ESPN. Today, Max has used that experience to build Hills Law Group with 0 customers and $0 in revenue to a respected firm in the industry.