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Finding Customers

Are you having difficulty finding customers? One of the two most difficult challenges faced by small-batch food entrepreneurs is pricing and locating customers. This is particularly true if your marketing budget is non-existent.

It’s not enough to have a great product or service. When you are a home-based business, customers may have difficulty locating you unless you showcase your products and services so they’re easy to find, frequented by a large number of people, in a well-known part of the city.

As a home-based baker or food processors, customers are not going to initially hit the streets looking for you. You must find your customers. People who want what you have to offer and are willing and able to pay the price you ask.

Many home-based food businesses find themselves going out on a daily or weekly basis spreading the word about their products. They take little time cultivating existing relationships current customers, focusing on new customers as their primary way to increase income. Don’t do it.

If you really want to increase revenue, cultivate a relationship with repeat customers; the folks who will talk to friends and coworkers about your product and become your ambassadors.

Finding Customers

Develop a mailing list using a marketing automation platform and email marketing service like MailChimp. Send out a marketing email or newsletter once or twice a month.

Develop a plan around what you want to tell your customers. For example, new products, flavors, holiday specials, serving suggestions; a YouTube video sharing how to use your product in recipes.

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Look for and follow business prospects on social media. Follow catering companies, restaurants, food trucks, event planners, farmers’ market managers, gatekeepers for major banks or corporations, agencies that plan non-profit events for sports teams, and other major organizations. Send these folks a Twitter message and don’t be afraid to get blocked. You need to connect with the people who can purchase your product or use your service.

Remember, fortune befriends the bold.  –Emily Dickerson

Work local media. Newspapers, local television anchors, radio personalities. Call and ask for their birthday month and day, drop off a card and your product, beautifully wrapped. If you make jams, jellies, hot sauce, barbecue sauce, dried spice rubs, etc, create a special label for that individual. Everyone likes to receive a custom gift. Don’t charge or ask for anything in return. You may get a shout out or not. They will definitely remember you on their next birthday. Finding customers is 1000%  your responsibility.

Become a vendor, attend meetings, seminars or conferences your potential customers might attend. If you make wedding cakes, attend a seminar for event planners. If you bake cupcakes, cookies and other desserts attend a conference put on by the National Coffee Association or a World Tea Expo.  Get creative and keep it local.

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Finding customers: Work your personal networks.

Make a list of people you know and ask them for a list of people who might be interested in supporting your business. Ask your circle of influence for 50-100 names or more of people who might use your product. You will need full names, phone numbers, and email addresses; along with their job title. Host a tasting and ask each person to bring someone from their industry. See how this works?

Study the competition. How are they finding customers? Where do they advertise? Where do they network? What tactics do they use? What works for them may work just as well for you.

Ask for feedback from your customers. Every 3 or 4 months, send a survey using an open-source (free) survey tool or Facebook to find out what you’re doing right; then ask customers to provide feedback when they don’t make a purchase. You’ll never know unless you ask. This is the time for thick skin.

If you are stressed and not sure how to get starting finding your customers, register now for Learn Before You Leap: 12 Ways to Find More Customers. 

Knowledge, skill, and insight are never learned unless you make the effort. 

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