Starting with nothing
My previous post said you shouldn’t commission a website build or bother building one yourself if you’re on a tight budget and/or haven’t sold a single product or service yet.
I often see new business owners get hung up that they can’t start selling their service or product before they have a website for people to look at. But this is a fallacy. You should focus on selling and delivering your service or product to a few clients first, so you can really understand their pain points so when it comes to commissioning a website you’re really clear on what your website should do.
But how do you get your first few clients without a website?
It’s true that your potential customers still want to see something and you might feel that without a website you don’t look like a legitimate business. But there’s nothing wrong with telling people that this is a new service/business and your website isn’t finished yet. I like to keep things simple.
Here’s 9 activities to get your first few clients.
1-3 don’ require any tech or expense. 4,5,6 require a bit of tech set up but are simple enough to do (or you can hire help to do it for you). 8 and 9 are optional and require a small amount of money and a little bit of tech you may want to outsource if tech isn’t your thing.
- Use social media. Decide which platform your ideal clients are hanging out and choose that. Set up or update your profile and use this as your temporary online home. Although know that you don’t own it. Make sure your profile pic is a recent one of you. Participate in groups and be helpful and provide useful information that’s related to what you do. Make connections, get talking to people who might be your ideal client and find out more about their pain points.
- Network like crazy. Formal, informal, online, offline, follow up arrange 121s, get talking to people about what you do and how you help. Ask questions. Survey and interview people who could be your potential audience and really get to know them, the problems they experience (that you solve) and the feelings they feel about it. Above all else – listen and absorb what they say. Take a note of the language they use to describe their pain and frustrations. Use what they say as valuable words you can use in your copy.
- Sales Documents. Create PDFs with details of your package/service. Be prepared to update and refine them as you learn more about your ideal customer and what they want (as opposed to what you think they need). Use these to send out to potential customers after you’ve had a conversation with them.
- Build your list. Collecting email addresses of interested potential customers is the most important activity you can do at any stage if your business. You own the data not the social platforms. You have control over the communications they receive and when they get them. You can nurture and build trusting relationships through email and get engagement.
- Simple Lead Magnet. Create a simple lead magnet to help you gather leads into your email programme. A lead magnet is quick/short useful information that will help your potential clients solve a particular problem. Be clear I’m not talking about a white paper, or lengthy course. A successful lead magnet to a cold audience is short and quick to digest like a checklist, swipe file, tip sheet, cheat sheet. They’re not ready to invest a huge amount of time reading or watching long videos. I’ve created a course how to create a simple lead magnet and email nurture sequence – you can see it here.
- Calendar Tools. Use a calendar tool like Acuity Scheduling to help you and your clients book a time to talk with you and have it sync with your online diary so it only offers appointments that you’re actually available. (pro tip: limit your availability, for example Monday mornings, Wednesday afternoons and Thursday mornings – otherwise if a potential customer sees that you’ve got availability for every hour, every day of the week, every week of the month, shows you’re not busy with work, and could imply you’re not that good, which is the last impression you want to give.
- Taking Payments. Either send an invoice with your bank details. You can also use Paypal and set up a payment button/link you can send your new client. A calendar tool like Acuity can also be used to take payment for paid appointments or sessions.
- Landing pages – Leadpages is an online paid tool where you can set up landing pages using intuitive drag and drop elements. You don’t need a website or a domain, although it is possible to link your domain name to a landing page. These are also simple to link up to your email marketing tool to make lead gathering and nurturing simple. Using a tool like Leadpages means you can create a more custom look and feel, including more text and images than you can otherwise do with just the landing page tools of Email Marketing providers like Mailchimp etc.
- Domain Name – even if you don’t know what your new business or website will be called, it’s worth at least buying your name as a domain name if it’s available. Then set up your email address and use that when you communicate with potential customers and your social channels. An address that ends in .outlook.com, Hotmail.com or gmail.com could be the one giveaway that you’re not a serious business because everyone knows they’re free, which could imply you’re not that invested in making a success of it. You can buy domain names from anywhere like GoDaddy who run good deals from time to time. You don’t have to host with them. I recommend TSOHost for hosting of both email and websites.
Get to know your customers REALLY well
Above all else use this stage as a time to really get to know your customer well, their pain points and the language they use. Get testimonials and feedback from the customers you do serve.
During this process expect to learn new things about how you market your new service or business.
Then, and only when you know your customers well, start planning the content for your website.
Then please share so more people can benefit