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How Can You Attract Customers Without Advertising and Content Marketing?

This question originally appeared on CoFoundersLab: How to attract Customers without Paid Advertising and Content Marketing?

Answer from Paul Garcia, President at TABLE


There are a number of key questions you need to ask yourself.

  1. What does it cost you in overhead to not have clients? 
    1. Is this figure higher or lower than the cost of soliciting customers? 

  2. Can someone knock on doors for you? 

  3. What makes your business different? 

  4. Are there any places near restaurants, shops and other public areas where you can post free advertisements?
    1. Can you produce yard signs that abide by municipal laws?

  5. What are other local businesses in your industry doing that you're not?

Consider writing a few good articles. For instance, if you have a home-cleaning business you could write about...

  1. How to select the right cleaner

  2. How to budget for cleaning

  3. How to break up large cleaning tasks into smaller affordable chunks

  4. What clients should know about cleaners to make the job go quickly and avoid damages


The answers to these questions may be obvious to you, but many home-cleaners’ websites don’t feature clear answers to these helpful questions. Having answers makes you stand out.  

As far as a referral business, it only takes one client to get started.

  1. What is your plan to get your first client?

  2. Can you replicate it to get many?

  3. How are you making it easy for existing clients to refer business?


To get referrals, you don’t always have to offer discounts and incentives. You should ask for new business; don't assume that an existing client will refer you out of the goodness of their heart. If they don't know you want them to make referrals, they won't make them. You should give brand collateral that your clients can give to friends. You can also ask clients to give you the contact information for people they know who might benefit from your services. You can even call the new client while you’re with the existing one.


Read the full discussion on CoFoundersLab

  1. How high-touch is your first service? Should it be higher?

  2. Are you getting your next appointment with a client while you’re with them, or are you reaching out later?

  3. Have you read any books on door-to-door sales?


Starting sales/outreach without a plan is a problem for many businesses. You always want to hit the ground running, but it’s important to take the time to research what sales and marketing efforts are going to cost and how you’ll cover those expenses. This will tell you if you’re ready to start a successful business. Many times the answer is no; the costs are too expensive. That's okay. You have an infinite amount of time to go back to the drawing board and devise a better plan before you sink money into an enterprise.  


Once you're up and running, ask yourself if you’re working in or on your business. There’s a major difference. You need to work on your business and not in it. Working in your business is a trap; it seems cheap or free. In actuality, a business owner's time is most valuable and your number one priority. There is always someone who can work in your business for less money than your time is worth. Only you can work on your business. And when you're working for yourself, you can expect to regularly spend at least 50% of your time trying to sell instead of actually doing work. It's a tough nut to crack.


Think about expanding your operations. Bringing it back to the cleaning example — are you determined to limit yourself to residential cleaning? It involves more hassles (e.g. dealing with personalities) and outreach and less consistency and profitability than commercial cleaning (i.e. office buildings). If you sell to one commercial client, it can be worth as much as 50 residential clients, and you only had to knock on one door.


If you’re interested in guest-speaking on topics related to your expertise and industry, consider this: Guest speaking isn't about fame. It’s about VALUE.

  1. What do you have to say that people will find valuable?

  2. Can you teach people how to avoid mistakes and frustration?

  3. Will your local chamber of commerce find your topic interesting and useful for their next monthly meeting of business owners?


You may find that paid advertising is necessary at some point for your business. Until then, think about your strategy in terms of how well the time you spend door-to-door is being used, and how you can secure more clients with long-term viability rather than those you’re just “trying out.”



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How to attract Customers without Paid Advertising and Content Marketing? originally appeared on CoFoundersLab — the place to connect, meet, and collaborate with like-minded entrepreneurs.



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