One of the biggest challenges facing a new business owner is how to get more clients. Whether it’s a travel agency, a book store, or a restaurant, once the doors open, the countdown is on and you need to start making money. And to make money, you need clients. So how do you get more clients?
Don’t you worry, I’ve put together a 3 things you can do that won’t break your back…or your bank. I focus on travel agencies but the lessons can be applied to any company that works locally.
One last thing to mention is that all the tips below to get more clients are based on a soft-sale strategy. With my personality, I’m not comfortable with hard sales or being overly aggressive so if you’re like me, you’ll especially like these steps!
How to Get More Clients
Step 1. Change your mindset. All day, everyday, you are now Marketer P.I.
Yes, a Marketer P.I. The P.I. at the end stands for private investigator. That means we’re doing this stealth-like. There’s no need for cold calls or to introduce yourself to everyone in sight. Here’s what you do: Get t-shirts made with your company name/logo and get a name badge. Wear them whenever you go outside the house.
It’s effective. I’ve talked to travel agents that have found new clients in the grocery store check out lane, while picking up the kids, and even one who found a client while asking for directions. It’s a non-threatening way to let people know who you are and what you do. If they’re interested, you’ve opened the door to a conversation.
I like this one: To get new clients, all you basically need to do is leave your house.
The Golden Key: Pick a good company name so people know your occupation at a glance.
Recommendations: When purchasing company swag, I like to shop local since our industry heavily depends on people keeping it local. But, I also know that sometimes the price difference is just too much. So, if you can’t find a local embroiderer or t-shirt shop with reasonable prices, I’ve ordered t-shirts from both VistaPrint and CustomInk. I liked the customer service and user experience much better at CustomInk.
I ordered a cheaper shirt on VistaPrint since it was a one-time wear. Guess what? It was cheap feeling and the screen print job mirrored the scratchy, cheap feeling of the shirt. For our MS Walk team shirts, I ordered nicer t-shirts from CustomInk. They looked (and felt) much better. Wherever you order from, don’t let the cheapest price be the driving factor—this is people’s impression of your company! (Besides, you’ll be wearing it everyday!)
Side note: While you’re at it, check out Amphibia Travel’s Facebook page. He’s created a great culture where clients want to show pictures of their latest trips. It’s definitely easier in travel, but in any industry you can think of a creative ways to build a loyal culture that encourages sharing and participation. Another great example of a Facebook page that has client interaction—Dollar Shave Club.
Step 2. Press Releases
Big city, small town, it doesn’t matter. The press is always looking for news and guess what? Your business opening has the potential to be an interesting read for local residents. Send out press releases to your city newspaper if you’re in a smaller town or to the neighborhood paper in a big city. Brush up on your press release writing skills (or learn some).
The Golden Key: Find a unique angle about your company to make it more appealing. Which headline is more likely to be picked up by the papers?
- Local Resident Opens Travel Agency
- High School Band headed to NYC with help from Your Travel Agency
I rest my case.
Step 3. Business cards
To get more clients, invest in a good-looking (keyword) business card and pass them out everywhere.
— FREE VistaPrint Cards Are a No-No. —
Is the lasting impression you want to leave a prospective client with a flimsy business card that says “Business cards are free at www.vistaprint.com” on the back? I hope not.
My VistaPrint rant aside, handing out your business card is one of the best solutions to getting more clients. If you make a decent connection with someone, give them a business card to stay connected. It’s not hard sales, it’s giving them a resource and they can choose to take it or leave it.
Shy business owners, beware. You do have to do a little work on your end to put yourself out there. Start chatting with people around you, make small talk, connect with the barista at the coffee shop and give them some of your business cards. The more people you meet, the more potential clients you have.
When I’m at an event where no one is talking and it’s completely awkward, I find it terribly intimidating to be the first to break the ice. But then I remember that everyone is probably just as uncomfortable as me, hoping someone will introduce themselves. We can only twiddle our thumbs or glance at our phones for so long! My experience has been that I meet lots of great people and sometimes those relationships I build can come in real handy.
The Golden Key: They may not remember your face and the business card in their pocket may be their only impression of you; make sure you’ve put the time into making your business cards unique and professional.
Recommendations: Again, I advocate for local printing shops first, but if you can’t find one with reasonable pricing for smaller quantities, I’ve ordered from both Vistaprint and OvernightPrints. There’s a bit of a language to ordering business cards and a good print shop (or your graphic designer) will help you figure out things like paper weight, matte/gloss printing. Don’t just go for the lowest priced card. Get a card that’s sturdy and has some character to it—this is about being memorable and looking good!
There you go—a few steps on how to get more clients. They’re simple things. They don’t take too much time, energy, or money but all very effective ways to build your business.
If you’re looking for some more ideas, check out our $100 Marketing Plan video or our live blog from travel agent Jennifer Doncsecz’s CruiseWorld presentation—she shares some great marketing ideas. Share with us what methods you’ve found effective in finding clients in the comments below.
Questions? Ask Away.
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Hi, I’m Steph! I specialize in working with people looking to start and/or grow their travel agencies. I’ve worked with thousands of agents and helped them learn more about the travel industry… and I’m happy to help you out too. If you’ve found this article helpful, please help give it some love via like/tweet/share or drop us a comment! Learn More About Steph>>
Photo Credits: Jeremy Mariette, Joyous!