Find new contacts and grow your client base
Before starting a business you will have written a business plan. A key step in turning that plan into reality is to find new contacts and customers for your products or services. Follow the steps below to get started.
1. Define your target market
The first and most significant step in finding new customers is to define your target market. Your target market is a group of potential customers that is most likely to buy your product or service. If you want to market your product or service effectively, you must know the demographics and psychographics of your potential customers. Where do they live? What do they spend their money on? Why would they want to buy your product?
2. Do market research
In order to know get to know your customer, conduct market research. You can collect data by conducting customer analysis. Customer analysis allows you to gain in-depth insights into the needs and behaviour of your customer. This will help you tailor your business strategies to different target groups. It is important to conduct customer analysis once every few years, as the market is continuously changing.
Statistics Netherlands (CBS) collects and publishes statistical information related to the economy, population and society at national, regional and local levels. You can use this data to find more information about potential customers in the Netherlands.
3. Learn from competitors
You can save time and money on conducting research by observing what your competitors are doing. For instance, what is their pricing strategy? How do they differentiate themselves from other competitors? Do they reach potential customers that you are not? Analysing your competitors can provide you with valuable information about potential customers. Use this information as an inspiration to offer better value than your competitors. You may also take previous competitors into account who have eventually failed. Find out why they failed and what not to do.
4. How to reach potential customers
Once you have narrowed down your target market, you are ready to market your product. Marketing is all about creating a need for your product or service in the minds of consumers. Social media can help you get your brand known across a large audience. Most social media allow personalised marketing, which enables you to target different groups based on demographics and behaviours. Especially new businesses which have trouble narrowing down their target market will benefit from this option. Another way of reaching potential customers is by referral marketing. If you reward existing customers for referring your product in return for discounts or giveaways, your customer base is likely to grow.
Collaboration with a distributor or trade agent
Rather than finding your own customers, you can collaborate with a distributor or an agent. If you collaborate with a distributor, he is the only party you deal with. The distributor buys your products, markets them and sells them on. You run less risk and do not have to spend much time marketing your products. The possible disadvantages are that you have no direct link to your customers, and that you will not get to know the market as well as you might wish. If you collaborate with an agent, you are the one to sell your products to your customers. The agent helps you find customers and is involved in marketing activities for a fee (or commission, usually a percentage of the profit). This means that you have direct contact with your customers, but you run a higher risk.
5. Partnerships and networking
It is important to invest in partnerships and networking to make your business grow and attract new customers. You may want to consider a partnership with a business that offers complimentary products or services. You can also choose to set up an affiliate program. Parties within this program (such as bloggers, online influencers or online shops), will receive commission in exchange for a certain contribution. An example of affiliate marketing is pay-per-click (PPC), where you pay commission to the party each time a visitor clicks on your advertisement.
Be aware of cultural differences
Be aware of cultural differences if you do business with partners abroad. The Netherlands Enterprise Agency landeninformatie (in Dutch) lists the chief do’s and don’ts per country.
See our page ‘Finding business partners abroad’ for more information on networking and partnerships abroad.