You may have been running your own local business for a while, but now it’s time to take it online. Or maybe you’ve dipped your toes into the online waters, but now you’re ready to take things to the next level. You want your business to grow. You want more people to know about the amazing products and services you offer. But how exactly are you going to do that? Is there a one-size-fits-all solution? A cookie-cutter approach that will help you reach anyone and everyone who needs to know about you? Probably not. Because in order to reach the right prospective clients, you need to know how to market to different types of customers.

So which types am I referring to exactly? – well there are your existing customers, your previous or lapsed customers and prospective customers (some whom may already know, like and trust you and some whom may have never heard of you)

Your previous and existing clients

First up, let’s talk about your previous and existing clients. Its generally much more cost effective and easy to retain an existing customer than find a new one.  Also lapsed customers have already been through the buying process with you and therefore are more likely to convert (unless something went wrong and that is why they are no longer your customer).  How do you market to these types of customers via online channels?  Let’s look at some examples together.

Let’s say you’re a chiropractor running your own practice. You tend to see clients regularly for a while. They come in for an initial assessment, and you recommend the best course of action. This will probably look like a set number of sessions to get them back to optimal health. Your patients come in regularly for a while, but when their initial package of sessions runs out (or, let’s face it) when they start to see an improvement, they stop coming.  So how can you keep in touch with them so that you are front of mind should they need more sessions?  How can you continue to build that trust so that they refer their friends to you? How can you use your online presence to reach out to your previous clients?

Send them personal emails or messages

The key here is to remember that these people have been your clients! They’ve bought from you before. They already know, like, and trust you. However, for whatever reason, they’ve stopped coming to see you for treatments. The best way to reach out to them and invite them back to your practice is through something we refer to as ‘high-touch techniques’ – in other words, by contacting them personally.

Start by asking them how they’ve been and whether that niggling back pain they had has improved, for example. You know why they came to see you in the first place, so can you offer them some tips or advice? If you honestly believe you could continue to help them, perhaps you can you offer them a tailored package? Suppose they’ve already had 10 sessions with you, would they be interested in a ‘maintenance package’ of 5 sessions for a reduced price, for example?

Or how about offering something that ties up with your loyalty scheme? Could you offer them a free session if they introduce a friend to your practice in the next month? Or as my pilates teacher did,  a 10% discount and a free class if I booked a 10 class package.  And that is what I did! I booked 10 classes which is enough to get me back into it and remind myself why I love his lessons, and I will probably book another 10 classes.  See it was much easier to convert me (a lapsed customer) into a paying customer again as I already know, like, trust him and I have bought from him before.  I have also referred him lots of clients – so he knows I am an ideal customer.  Remember Ideal customers rave about you and love you so much that they tell all their friends about you, rather than keeping you a secret!

Your previous or existing customers are the ones that are most likely to respond positively to a direct offer from you. So if you’re looking to promote a new service or boost your sales before the end of the month or year, marketing to these types of customers could be a great strategy for you.

Use social media

You could also get in touch with your previous or existing clients via social media. They’re probably already engaging with your content fairly regularly, so if you’ve posted about an offer you think they may be interested in, just tag them. Try to get yourself in front of them and start a genuine conversation. Find out how they are, how you can help them, and if you feel it’s appropriate, ask them to share your offers.  You can also use Facebook messenger to connect with customers if they are already engaging with you on Facebook.   Facebook Messenger seems to have much more cut-through than email at the moment as its a channel that is used less for marketing so people tend to be much more likely to read a message via Facebook.

Send out a newsletter

A Newsletter is a great way to stay in touch with existing and lapsed clients.  So write a newsletter and send it out to the relevant subscribers (remember with the GDPR rules they need to have given consent to hear from you).  What I always say to my clients is that someone’s email address is a valuable asset.  Don’t spam them with emails that are are not valuable, engaging and informative – make sure that you are always sending them something that will help them, engage them or inspire them. Don’t forget to ask them a question and invite them to reply back – the more you engage them in a conversation, the more likely they are to return to your practice.

Your prospective clients

Also known as ‘warm leads’, these are people who have heard about you before. They may know who you are and what you do. Maybe they even engage with you on a regular basis on social media. They are the people who open your emails (maybe reply back?). They show an interest in your content, whether it’s on social media, via your newsletter, or on your business blog. You are clearly front of mind, but they haven’t yet become a paying client.

So let’s say you’re a Pilates instructor. You have a few people who’ve had an introductory trial session with you. But they haven’t come back. Or maybe they’ve signed up to your newsletter to grab that 10% discount you sent out. But they haven’t yet claimed it. Maybe you’ve met a few ladies at your last networking event who seemed really interested in finding out more about your classes. But they never booked.

How can you turn them into paying clients?

Create relevant content

Of course, if you have their contact details (email address, phone number, or social media profiles), and they have given you explicit permission to contact them, personalised messages could be a great way to address any doubts or concerns they might have about working with you. But another strategy you could try is to create relevant content that helps them make a decision. You could share your content in whatever way you prefer – Facebook lives, pre-recorded videos on your website, social media, or posts just like this on your business blog.

However you decide to create and share the content, make sure it addresses their objections. You want them to read, listen, or watch. And then you want them to walk away thinking that YOU (and your business) are what they need right now. You want them to consume that piece of content and then book a Pilates class with you. Or, even better, a whole bunch of them!

Remember, these people already know about you. They know what you do, and they trust you as a professional. Your job right now is to help them get over the last hurdle and make the decision to start working with you.

People who’ve never heard about you

Known as ‘cold leads’, the last type of (prospective) clients are the ones who’ve literally never heard about you. They don’t know you exist, let alone what you do and how you can help them.  Once you have done your research and worked on your ideal customer persona you will know what your prospective clients look like and the best way to advertise to them.  You will know what their pain points are and how you can help them.  You will know what channels to use and how to market to them most effectively.  It totally depends on what your persona looks like as to what channels you might use, but it’s highly likely that you will need a mix of online and offline marketing tactics.

Remember – if you have limited time and money to spend on marketing, which we all do, then don’t waste time and energy on activities that don’t deliver the ROI.  Remember your time is money!  So spend your time and money wisely.  I often speak to prospective clients who are spending a significant amount of time and money on channels that definitely are not delivering!  Totally untargeted choices of media and just spamming out marketing messages to anyone (and no one) that will listen. Please don’t do this, its such a waste.  The only person benefitting is the company that is taking your money.

Partners

I was explaining to a women’s health physio (concentrating on pelvic floor issues) that prospective clients are going to really need to know, like and TRUST her before going to see her.  I explained that one of the best ways for her to get new clients will be referrals from existing and previous customers, and also through word of mouth.  So networking in her local area is key, so that she can build up a network of local partners.

Trusted partners could be pre and postnatal healthcare professionals, yoga teachers and physios that might refer her clients.  I explained that spending her time on Twitter would probably not bring in any new clients, because those people reading her tweets are probably not going to be looking for a women’s health physio at that precise moment in time, and even if they are its unlikely that they would go and see someone that they didn’t know or who came highly recommended from a friend or other health professional.   (That doesn’t mean that you can’t use Twitter if you love it and want to, but just be aware that it’s very unlikely to deliver ROI in this case).  Women with pelvic floor issues will potentially consult their doctor or tell their pilates teacher.  They might talk to their antenatal class teacher.   So those would all be key partners.  

Have a think about who you could partner with that would have clients experiencing similar problems but working in a complementary sector.  For example, companies that need my marketing help, will also often need other services around the same time – I have spent the last 20 years finding partners that I can trust and work with.  These might include copywriting, SEO, PR, CRM help, Tech help, Website creation, GDPR help, branding and logo design, social media marketing, creative help, media planning and buying and photography.

Use online advertising

One of the ways you can do this is through advertising. You want to reach people who don’t know about you at all. So advertising on fitness portals or websites, local publishers (which are targeted and tend to be good value) or using paid social media advertising could be feasible options for you. If you’re running Facebook ads, make sure you’re clear about your budget and keep an eye on your spending. You’ll want to tweak any ads that aren’t performing – in this case, ones that are not being seen or clicked on. And don’t be too surprised if you’re not making direct sales through advertising at the moment. Remember, these people don’t know you yet, but at least you’ve been able to reach out to them and let them know you exist. Your next step is to ‘nurture them’.  Send them through to a landing page where they can download a PDF or something of value to them (lead magnet) and encourage them to sign up to your newsletter so that they are on your database. However for many small businesses, that I work with they don’t have the budget to spend on paid ads that don’t turn into customers, so really monitor the spend here.

You might also want to test PPC ads (advertising on Google) for people searching for a local class/studio/healthcare professions.   If someone is searching in Google for a “yoga studio in Chiswick” then that shows intent – its highly likely that they are looking for a place in Chiswick where they can practice yoga, and if you fall into that category then you want your ad to show up.  Just be careful PPC can be very expensive and unless you are an expert you can waste a huge amount of money by not setting up the campaigns correctly.  I ran a media agency for 10 years that specialised in PPC but I would still not run my own PPC campaigns.  I would ALWAYS use a specialist.    Its so competitive and expensive that unless you are totally on it, it’s very unlikely that you will get results.  Get in touch with me if you want some help in this area and I can try and help with some recommendations.  Always make sure that you measure everything that you are doing.  So if you are doing PPC try and measure the uplift in customers (tricky if not online and it’s offline but you can look at overall uplift).  You can also implement click to call campaigns so that you can measure those (in Google).  Also, make sure that you ask new clients how they heard about you (and note it down) so that you can identify which channels are working and bringing in the paying customers.

Use content marketing

Content marketing, or the creation of regular written, video or audio content that you share via social media, YouTube, Pinterest, a podcast, or your website, can be a great strategy to reach out to and nurture an audience that hasn’t necessarily heard about you before. Creating and sharing regular, high-value content has the potential to help any prospective clients develop that know, like, and trust factor they need to eventually become your paying clients. Actions speak louder than words, right? So use your content to showcase your experience and expertise. Show them you know what you’re talking about. That you’re an expert and a professional. It may not happen overnight, but over time, through your content, they’ll come to love you.

Content marketing is also great for SEO.

Cold leads are the hardest to convert into paying customers – they may take the longest time and the most amount of effort. But if you want your business to scale and your pool of existing clients grow, you’ve got to expand your horizons.

Do you need some help?

Are you currently marketing to different types of customers? Should you be? If you want me to help you come up with effective marketing strategies that will work for the specific types of customers you’re trying to target and the stage of business you’re in right now, get in touch! I can help you create targeted marketing campaigns and strategies that will deliver results for your business.