6 Creative Ways Of Getting Your First Paying Customer As A Small Business

6 Creative Ways Of Getting Your First Paying Customer As A Small Business
  • Opening Intro -

    So, you've started a new business. Now, you need customers.

    On average, it takes a small business at least two to three years to become profitable and about a decade to see real, true success.


Even then, it can take much, much longer. As Inc. pointed out, some of the most successful companies didn’t make a single dollar during their first five years, and the truth is that only about half of small businesses even make it that far.

What can you do to ensure that your new business is here to stay?

Customer acquisition is a crucial — if not the most crucial — part of a small business’ success. The faster you can amass a loyal customer base, the faster you’ll arrive at profitability. It all begins with your very first paying customer. So, where can you find one?

Here are some creative ideas that can help.

Have A Digital Grand Opening Event

Forget the brick-and-mortar grand opening events of the past (though, if you have a physical location, you should definitely go for that, too). Today, most small businesses have gone digital, allowing them to reach a consumer base far beyond their immediate 20 mile radius. These are the leads that need nurturing, and a digital grand opening event can help reel them in.

Craft a grand opening event that gives consumers something to have FOMO (fear of missing out) about — whether it’s a free gift or service, a discount, entry into a raffle, or some other perk. Whatever it is, setting a deadline is critical because it pushes people to make a purchase before time runs out.

Instagram Is Low-Commitment, High Success

When you launch your new business, you should definitely work on creating a web presence across all major social media platforms, but Instagram should be your first stop. This platform can be particularly lucrative for small businesses, especially those in the retail space.

Why? According to Forrester, it’s where brands find the highest engagement rates. Beyond that, Instagram users tend to spend more.

Shopify revealed that, on average, Instagram users spend around $65 when referred from the app vs. the $55 spent by Facebook users and $46.26 spent by Twitter users.

While placing an Instagram ad is rather straightforward (and inexpensive, allowing small businesses without a big marketing budget to stretch their pennies), you can get creative and land a customer without ever even spending a cent.

The secret is the platform’s new Reels feature. Instagram is prioritizing showing Reels on the Explore Page as long as they don’t have a watermark.

Since most users upload watermarked content from TikTok, you’ll be one step ahead if you make original content.

Take a look around at your competitors to see what’s popular and try to play off TikTok and Reels trends (trends are generally interchangeable on both platforms, at least while Reels is still new).

Get The Backlinks You Deserve

Word of mouth is only as successful as the people who actually link to your business, but with a little finessing, your word of mouth marketing can be hyper-efficient. Enter: Moz’s Fresh Web Explorer.

This tool helps you find referrals that are leading nowhere. How? It searches websites and blogs for company mentions that aren’t linked (which may be quite a bit if you’ve had a lot of buzz around your grand opening).

After the tool works its magic, you can contact the people who’ve mentioned your brand and kindly ask for cold, hard linkage.This doesn’t just boost your SEO; it leads to actual conversions.

Create An Early Adopters Loyalty Program/Special Offer

People love to feel like they’re part of something. Since you just launched your business, entice your first few customers with a loyalty program that has specific benefits for those who sign up while you’re still finding your footing.

Overall, loyalty programs have been linked to a 20% increase in purchases, and those who start earning rewards immediately after signing up generally spend 68% more than other customers. It’s valuable, but it’s something that will also be beneficial long after your first customer.

Let’s face it: if your business is new, you don’t have a long-standing track record. You’re lacking the word-of-mouth referrals and online reviews that make customers feel secure in their purchase.

A loyalty program that includes a special, limited-time offer for the first few sign ups can entice people to take a chance on your business anyway. In the long-term, it builds customer trust and brand loyalty. Those good reviews and friendly referrals will follow.

Team Up With A Like-Minded Brand

Want to instantly increase the size of your audience? Collaborate with a like-minded brand to gain crucial cross promotion. This brand should be complimentary, meaning you’re not each other’s competitors, but you do have the same type of audience. What does that look like in real life?

Let’s take the example of a brand new bar who are planning their opening week. They may want to team-up with an esteemed local chef for a pop-up menu. That way, the chef will bring in customers who, in turn, also get to try the bar’s drinks. On the other hand, people already planning to visit the bar will get to try the chef’s food. It’s a win-win.

Create A PR Campaign Around Your Brand Story

There’s one major difference between a brand people buy stuff from and a brand people adore — a story. People need something to connect to. They want your business to feel like an old friend they can always count on. A story humanizes your product and makes people feel good about giving you their money. So, how do you get it out there?

other valuable tips from our business blog (new win):

Typically, you can hire a publicist to help you craft your story and figure out the best places to tell that story (i.e. what publications, podcasts, media companies, and even social media accounts will feature your products and services). You can also do this on your own after thinking deeply about your company’s role in the world. How are you helping? What are your morals? Why do you exist, and how did you get here?

Regardless of which route you take, there is no better time to launch a PR campaign than a launch — and the more eyes you get on your company’s name, the more likely it is you’ll make a sale.

Ryan Gould
Vice President of Strategy and Marketing Services

Elevation Marketing
From legacy Fortune 100 institutions to inventive start-ups, Ryan brings extensive experience with a wide range of B2B clients. He skillfully architects and manages the delivery of integrated marketing programs, and believes strongly in strategy, not just tactics, that effectively aligns sales and marketing teams within organizations.

Ryan is known for taking complex marketing and business challenges and developing solutions that simplify processes while driving customer outcomes and business value. He also thrives on guiding Elevation teams toward execution of strategies that help companies succeed in new verticals, while staying true to core values and brand integrity.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rygould/

Image Credit: getting your first paying customer by envato.com

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