How to acquire customers in a cost effective manner?

Acquiring customers has always been a challenge for start-ups and entrepreneurs. Most of them are hamstrung because they are running the business with their own money( which is not millions often) and hence they are severely constrained. As an entrepreneur, you have to be innovative in marketing your services or products. Traditional marketing ideas such as billboards advertising, television advertising and mass marketing are essentially out of scope . I experimented with many ways of advertising and marketing for my start-up. Here are some of tips you can use.
  1. Narrow down the customer segment:
  2. The businesses with deep pockets can afford large scale campaigns. Define your market more closely and narrowly. The cost of advertising your target market should fit your budget. For e.g. instead of targeting the whole of city, you can target your locality.
  3. Modes of advertising:
  4. You can either advertise online or offline. While online advertising is cheaper compared to offline, there is a learning curve . Online advertising involves putting your products on various search engines, social networking sites and retail portals. You may also send e-mailers to the prospects and put in some good deals ( be careful about sending  e-mails to people who do not want it). Brouchers and pamphlets can get you instant customer attention. They can be distributed to people who are not online for most of the time. Get the ad designed by professional agencies if it works out. I learned to design my own pamphlets using various designing software and saved some money.
  5. Define your USP clearly:
  6. You have to be different than your competitor. Your unique selling proposition needs to be better services/better products/better prices/better delivery terms etc when compared to your competitor.
  7. Be patient with customer's response:
  8. Customer response comes very slowly. There are thousands of other things that take up their mindspace. They might have noticed your ad only to  forget it a moment later . So it is a great idea to have some patience.
  9. Repeat the message:
  10. Keep advertising and repeating the message. Customers will remember you if they see you message often.
  11. Monitor customer's response:
  12. Change your strategy if it does not work. Try different mediums and see customer's response. Try to know, how your customers found you. Collect the responses and analyze them to fine tune your marketing and advertising campaigns.