Case Study: How I Landed My FIRST Four Clients within Three Weeks of Starting a New Business
Just three weeks ago, I started a new business, Aptus Creative Marketing. I've been designing websites for friends and family off and on for about eight years now, but it was only recently that I realized how much I enjoyed the process and how needed websites currently are. With so many new businesses springing up (THANK YOU economy), there are a whole lot of people who need a shiny new site to show off what they do. Why compete with these businesses when I can collaborate with them and help them succeed?
And so, Aptus was born! I spent a month just figuring out a name that I liked (“Aptus” means “well suited,” “apt,” or “useful” in Latin) and branding that felt like me. But once I finally decided what I wanted, we were off to the races!
Let me tell you, these races are fast! My goal for Aptus this year is 3 – 5 clients every month, but honestly I was expecting it to take several months of marketing before I reached that volume of work. However, three weeks after I published my website I already have four clients lined up for this coming month.
So what worked? What actions did I take that lead to being fully booked so quickly? Keep reading to find out!
How to Get Your First Clients
1. Start Your Business
Obvious, but totally necessary! Until you really start your business, you're not even ready for those clients, and they probably won't start coming. So dust off your sports jacket and prepare for a tiny bit of legal work.
Before you're ready to start accepting clients, you need to:
- register your business
- open a business bank account (+ PayPal account)
- register your website domain
- rent a building? (totally depends on what type of business you're starting)
- Outline your services or create your products
2. Create a Professional Appearance
It's a whole lot easier to attract clients if you look professional — and by “you” I mean your business. That might be your storefront, or, more likely, your website.
And while a “professional” appearance is an adequate goal, if you really want to thrive then you'll want to go just a little bit further. Brand yourself in a way that will truly attract your ideal clients. Who would you most like to work with? What style would they appreciate? What imagery or voice would they find appealing? Show up as that business, and they'll be 10x more likely to hire you.
Not sure how to create a cohesive brand people will love? I've got a free guide to help you! Check out “The Ultimate Guide to Beautiful Branding” for step by step instructions on how to brand your business.
3. Get Your Hustle On (and start networking!)
Before you pay for even a penny of advertising, start networking. Networking is absolutely the BEST way to get your first clients. Why? Because you're out there talking to your people, learning about what resonates with them. Paying for ads might work, but it also very well might be a waste of money before you get to know your market.
So, visit networking events locally (check out your Chamber of Commerce, Toastmaster groups, Meetup.com, and local Facebook groups) and online (Facebook groups are amazing for this). Talk to people, share what you do, and ask them lots of questions about what they do. Give them permission to follow up with you, and get their card so that you can do the same.
Where MY First Client Leads Came From
As I mentioned before, I was able to get several leads in the first few weeks with zero paid advertising. Here's exactly where they came from:
I connected with them in a Facebook group. They were asking for advice on their website, and I offered to give them a free consultation to help them figure out which direction they should go.
I connected with them in a Facebook group. They were asking what they should do to be able to attract more clients. I suggested that improving their website could help their conversion rates, so they set up a free consultation call to learn how I could help them with this.
This one was a referral from my husband. The first thing I did when I started my web design business was to tell all my family members and close friends what I was up to. It's not like they know a whole lot of web designers, so now whenever they hear someone is looking for one they send them my way.
This client lead found me on Google! Yay for strong SEO that makes your site super friendly to search engines. This client found me and called me up to ask for a proposal.
Another from the Facebook groups! This one was completely unexpected. Every week I try to book several “virtual coffee” chats with other entrepreneurs I meet on Facebook. One of those turned into a client last week! We were chatting about our business, and before I knew it she was asking if I might be able to redo her existing site.
How to Get More Clients
If you want to start attracting more clients, and you've already done those basic set-up actions discussed above, here's two things to focus on:
- Your Offer
What are you trying to sell? Your offer should be very specific (What will the client get out of working with you?) and very valuable (How will their life be changed?). If people aren't buying, then your offer isn't enticing enough.(Or, they just aren't seeing your offer in the first place, which leads us to the second point.)
- Networking (and then other forms of marketing)
Talk to people. A lot. Ask them about their needs in your area of expertise. Share your work with them. Share what makes you different.Once you've gotten to know your target audience very well, move on to your first small advertising campaign. This generally is either Google Adwords or Facebook Ads, but there are endless options to choose from. We'll talk more about paid advertising in future articles.
Now it's time for you to get out there and get your hustle on! Go find your target customers and build relationships that will lead to more clients in the future.
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