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25 Low-Cost Ways to Attract New Prospects and Clients Without Having to Cold Call

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There are numerous ways to attract new prospects and clients to you and your business, some of which can be done at low cost or even no cost! In this article, I'll assume that you have the appropriate brochure, business card, website, or at least a webpage, and a simple press kit with your photo, your bio, and a list of what you and/or your products and services can do to make a difference!

If not, then you may not be ready to take advantage of many of these tips. If that's the case, you'll need to do some work to prepare yourself. On the other hand, if you're ready, here's a list of the most positive and powerful ways to attract those individuals and organizations with whom you'd like to build relationships and do business.

25. Print and Radio Advertising: This method is probably the most expensive and least effective because you will definitely have to continue to advertise yourself, your product, or your services consistently (at least five or six times) to determine the effectiveness and overall success of the ad. You will need the time and repetition to test and adjust the script. While radio advertising can be surprisingly affordable, I would suggest that you retain a media professional such as a copywriter or media marketing person so that you can get the best advice and counsel, along with copy that will work well for you.



24. Directory Listings: There are two types of directory listings available. One may be free or low-cost. The other can be quite expensive. Also, since listings are "passive" advertising and there's no guarantee of success, results may be poor. The exception might be your local chamber of commerce or specialty association trade directory. Free or low-cost listings may be available in special directories, which can be listed in a directory of directories to be found in major business libraries. You'll need to do some research to find, contact, and get listed in the right ones.

23. Radio, Television, Cable, and Print Interviews: Almost any library with a good business shelf will have a public relations directory such as Burrell's or Bacon's which lists the shows that use interviews as well as, in many cases, the people who "book" guests. An alternative approach would be to check your local TV listings, identify those shows that you would like to contact, call or email the producer directly, and "pitch them" on your "unique" idea or slant. This is number 23 because you'll need good luck, timing, and/or something "hot" to present before getting your shot. This same approach can work for your local newspaper or magazine, but that, too, can take time. If you have the budget, this is one of the things that a very good PR/marketing company can do for you.

22. Mass Mailings: Many large companies still do mass mailings to both "suspects" and prospects. In the past (five years ago or more), this may have been successful and produced results (about a 1% response for the first round of mailings). These days, companies use mass mailings for "presence" or in collaboration with other related vendors. There are still a few mass mail vendors such as Valpak that will package your message, along with others, and do a mass mailing in a designated area or zip code. Some marketing companies will promote mailings using targeted lists. This could be effective depending on the piece mailed, the particular list, and the offer and response called for in the piece. Make sure you always include your website and/or email address in the mailing piece!

21. Personalized Direct Mail: Here, your computer is harnessed to produce targeted letters to qualified prospects. Their names may be found in newspapers, magazines, trade publications, etc. A well-written, personal letter can still be an effective way to attract business and attention to your company.

Here are some helpful tips for utilizing the direct-mail approach:
  • ALWAYS combine a direct-mail program with a telephone and email follow-up!

  • ALWAYS send the letter to a specific C-level executive "decision maker" (CEO, COO, CIO, CFO, VP of sales, marketing, or HR) rather than to just a functional title.

  • ALWAYS use typed or handwritten letterhead stationery and envelopes.

  • DO NOT send form letters!

  • ALWAYS tailor your letter to the "wants, needs, or concerns" of your suspect's market or industry. Make sure you have a "unique value proposition" included, in order to capture his or her attention quickly so that he or she is favorably predisposed to your message.
20. Special Promotions, Donations, Premiums, and Incentives: You can enhance your image and gain valuable exposure through joint promotion with other organizations by cosponsoring a fundraiser or business event or even volunteering your time to a charity or nonprofit function. Give away a useful and tasteful premium or incentive at a trade show or as a special token to remind clients and prospects of your presence and availability.

19. Trade Shows, Conferences, and Expositions:
There are two strategies: (1) when you exhibit and (2) when you attend.

Almost 80% of all exhibitors commit at least "ten common mistakes" at trade shows, conferences, and business expositions, the top two being:
  • not asking the right questions to identify a "qualified prospect"

  • not following up all inquiries in a timely and meaningful way
As a visitor, you can connect with both attendees and exhibitors and "qualify them" by finding out about their products and services as well as their needs as they relate to your product or service so that you can follow them up!

18. Professional and Trade Associations and Meetings: With the proliferation of business, professional, and trade associations, you need to do some research and "fieldwork" to discover which organizations will be right for you, both economically and socially, in that order. Once you have identified the two or three right ones (more can be joined if you have deep pockets and plenty of time), you must then visit them once or twice as a guest to observe and then interview the "key players" of the organizations. When you've joined, be prepared to become actively involved on at least one committee in each organization. Solid relationships start and get built at these levels and above!

17. Seminars and Workshops: There are two strategies: (1) when you give one and (2) when you attend one. With regard to strategy number one, you can either put on your own or seek out those organizations and associations...including your own...that already sponsor seminars and workshops. Your local chamber of commerce is an excellent resource, along with local community colleges. Making a presentation or putting on a workshop will define you as an expert in your field. Strategy number two is a great way to gain knowledge and information about what is currently going on in your market or industry as well as add to your "toolbox" of skills and resources. If you also register and take some workshops that your ideal prospect may take, your presence will allow you to connect and network with those prospects in a safe, non-selling environment.

16. Writing Magazine and Trade Articles: First, do some research in your market and industry, and find out "what's hot" and "what's not." If you can't, don't like to, or don't want to write the article, you can find many freelance writers in your community who will write it for you. Check your local IABC (International Association of Business Communicators) chapter, and contact them for writers. You can also go to your local college and visit the journalism or communications departments and ask for help. Never hype yourself or your company in the article, but do have a one-sentence description of yourself with contact information at the conclusion of the article, along with a photo, if possible.

15. Public Speeches and Lectures: Whether it's local civic groups like Rotary, Lions, the JCs, or the 4Hs, etc., or business groups like the chamber of commerce or the adult education organization at the local community college, most organizations like to have outside speakers at their meetings. Contact the program chairperson to discuss the possibility of speaking to his or her group. (Note: Many groups might even pay you. At the very least, they'll probably feed you.) If you're not sure you're a good speaker yet or want to be better, contact your local Toastmasters chapter and attend some meetings. It's also a great place to network! You'll need to create one or two (about 20- to 30-minute) presentations with creative titles to deliver your speech or lecture.

14. Business Cards: Your business card is your calling card! Make sure it looks professional and has some identifiable information about who you are and what you do. Before you decide to print your cards, do some research of your own. Select two or three cards that you find appealing and attractive from those business cards that you've received over the past year or two. Check out the cards your major competitors are giving out, and see what you like or don't like that you might learn from. Remember: your business card is another form of advertising, albeit passive.

13. Brochures: Brochures should be simple, attractive, and to the point. A brochure they'll read is worth more to your sales strategy than one they will put in their "file it" pile. Two colors are more effective than one; using four colors is superfluous, but there are exceptions, of course. Action photographs and strong graphics can add dimension. Just be sure you use good-quality paper. As with the business cards (see above), check out what your major competitor uses, and see what you like and don't like. Learning from others' successes and failures can save you a lot of time and money!

12. Audio, Video, or CD Business Cards: Within the past six years, the creation and use of audio, video, and even CD business cards has been added to some companies' advertising and marketing budgets. Their purpose? To be used for direct mail and prospecting and as handouts at trade shows, expos, and conferences. If you have the budget—and a PR or marketing professional with the appropriate expertise to create a slick, attractive piece—then do it! Be sure you select and carefully target your intended market, and follow up immediately with a subtle request to forward it on to an appropriate person if they have no need or interest.

11. Audit Business Cards: While giving out 3,000 business cards or more each year may make you think you are going to get a lot of business (your printer is the one getting the business), the number of cards you collect and take action on will really help you get more business! When you ask for or receive someone's business card, check his or her information, turn the card around, and write something on the back of it that might be important. It might be a date, a place, and a time to call back or follow up. Let the person know you're making a note! It might be to just follow up or send something you think might be of value. Then make sure you do it quickly and elegantly!

Now, here are the top 10 ways to attract business without cold calling:

10. Leadership in the Community: This critical but subtle strategy cannot be rushed. Find a charity or nonprofit organization which you feel passionate about or would like to help make a difference! You must first have a sincere desire for the organization and/or its cause for which you would like to commit some time and energy. You may not realize it, but you could be working shoulder-to-shoulder with others who may be influential in referring you to their organizations or other organizations that might benefit from your talent, skills, or abilities, if not your products or services. Just remember, it does take time, patience, and commitment on your part first.

9. Publishing Your Own Newsletter: If you're just starting out, you may only have the time and patience to publish and distribute your newsletter quarterly (spring, summer, fall, winter). If you want credibility and long-standing presence, you must have something that is regularly updated and informational. There are professional and freelance writers who will write the content, if necessary. Also, there are companies who have standard "niche" newsletters available. All you do is provide your company logo, address, contact info, and photo for insertion. They will produce and sometimes even distribute your newsletter. Eventually, you'll want to publish a monthly or bimonthly newsletter. You might even do it via email (see "The Internet and Your Website" below).

8. Colleagues, Peers, and Associates: Some of these people may be people you knew in your previous job or industry association. They thought well of you then, but somehow they've lost track of you along the way. You can rekindle those connections once again and track where they lead. In addition, be aware of others whom you know in a related field or industry whose introductions and referrals could be of value to you. One of the easiest and best ways to keep in "quality contact" with these people is through your newsletter (see above).

7. Building Your Own "House List": This is imperative to your success and growth. Invest in a good database software program, or retain a quality professional vendor to keep and maintain one for you. I use www.webvalence.com for my email newsletter and database management. Your list will produce, on average, five to 10 times the response of any outside list you buy or rent. The names can come from clients, colleagues, associates, business cards you collect, membership lists of associations in which you participate, your own address book, etc. Make sure you keep this list updated and current!

6. Letters of Introduction, Endorsements, and Referrals: A very powerful, credible way of attracting new business is through letters of introduction. In the Asian and Middle Eastern worlds, a letter of introduction from a satisfied client to one of his colleagues, associates, or clients carries a great deal of weight. It opens many doors, which may not ordinarily be accessed. You can ask your "gold" clients (top 20%) to write "endorsements" describing your skill and ability and what you've been able to accomplish for them or help them achieve. Then ask them if you can mail the endorsements to their colleagues, associates, and/or clients as well.

5. Azar's 80/20/20 Theory: You will probably find that 80% of your business, quality introductions, and referrals will come from about 20% of your clients (your "gold" clients). Your gold clients are "sold" on you and your business. Furthermore, 20% of your gold clients are willing—if you ask them—to work for you by offering leads and recommending new clients for your business. They are called "platinum" clients. Treat them with care and attention, and they will be instrumental in helping you grow your business. You must acknowledge and recognize them on a regular and consistent basis. In some circles, they are also known as "golden geese." Please don't kill them to get their eggs!

4. Formal and Informal Networking: There are many opportunities to "press the flesh" in the business world. For you to be successful in attracting new business, you must be socially attuned and able to "rub elbows" with those you wish to do business with or who have access to those you wish to meet. If you are not amenable to this, for your sake, have someone in your organization who is and wants to be active in this role. Then let him or her plant seeds! There are many places to network: the chamber of commerce, "after hours" events, conferences, trade shows, seminars, workshops, Toastmasters, etc. Every major city has a number of "formal networks"—that is, networks formed to do business within their membership. Some organized groups that may be listed are BNI, LeTips, and PowerCore. Many local chambers of commerce will have their own "leads" groups as well.

3. Power Networks: A successful power network can represent the difference between the professional and the amateur when it comes to building relationships and doing business. A strong, healthy power network is a safe environment in which to share ideas, information, and resources. The members of a power network must be in separate, noncompetitive companies or markets. Their products or services can be related or supplemental in nature. Each member is a resource person who knows how to connect people as well as be connected. Some of the members may even qualify to be included in your "MasterMind" (see below for explanation).

2. Creating a "MasterMind": A "MasterMind" is a group of like-minded, positive, supportive individuals who are in similar or related industries or professions. They are committed to meeting on a regular basis and assisting each other in various ways. The members come from several places, including chambers, associations, and power networks. They can include mentors, friends, colleagues, clients, vendors, etc. They may be accountants, lawyers, PR professionals, entrepreneurs, corporate executives, real estate professionals, bankers, brokers, insurance specialists, business coaches, health or wellness specialists, spiritual advisors such as rabbis, priests, or ministers, doctors, or educators, each with his or her unique blend of talent, skills, and abilities. It may take up to a year to fully form your MasterMind, but it will be well worth the time, patience, and energy you put into this creation.

1. The Internet and Your Website: With a multitude of capabilities and unlimited opportunities, the Internet is rapidly changing the way we do business. Without your own website, even if you only use it for email, presence, and contact information, you will be far behind the curve of success! By having your own website and using the Internet for marketing, advertising, or, at the very least, prospecting for new business, you will be truly stepping up in productivity! By creating an attractive, user-friendly website, even the smallest entrepreneur can be on a playing field with big business. Utilizing the power of the Internet can help you build the perception of a global business. As it evolves with newer technology, including better audio and video capabilities, you may apply those tools to your website and create new and different ways to enhance your business, its products, and its services. If you want to be a savvy businessperson, you will want to harness its capabilities, creativity, and productivity benefits. Make the investment of time, energy, and money to educate yourself on this exciting breakthrough technology. If you're not technical, like me, you will want to find the best and brightest Internet and web specialists available and add them to your team—maybe even your MasterMind!


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