Ah... prospecting! Can we talk about it? When you launch your business, you will spend half your time on your service or product, but the other half of your precious time will be spent developing your customer base. But how do you acquire new customers? Which acquisition channels should you choose?
The 19 acquisition channels
Whether digital or physical, here is a list of acquisition (or 'pull') channels that exist from which you can choose your perfect combination:
- SEO (search engine optimisation): this is all about natural referencing. In other words: working on your keywords that are listed for free on search engines such as Google.
- Viral marketing: when your customers share your communication with other users. They then become your "ambassadors".
- Social ads: these are ads that you can place on social media platforms.
- Press relations: as the name explicitly states, you can build relationships with journalists to get exposure in certain magazines, newspapers and news sites. The key here is to build up trust with your journalist contacts. You don't need to have 15 of them, but make sure you take care of the relationships with the ones you select.
- Non-conventional public relations: this is a low-level acquisition channel. It is the occasional combination of two brands. In this case, you mobilise a partnership for an unusual customer experience.
- Existing platforms: there are many. Depending on your industry, do some research and find the platforms where you need to be seen. This could be MALT, LinkedIn, Upwork, Superprof, graphistes.com, etc.
- Organising and attending events: with the aim of meeting prospects.
- Partnerships: this is part of business development. You can prospect with several people by increasing your exposure through intermediaries. You tell your customers about a peer who has a complementary offer to yours and vice versa.
- Affiliate marketing: this is a marketing technique that allows an advertiser website to promote its products or services by offering a fee to other websites. In other words, you can be listed on other websites in return for a percentage commission on the turnover generated or a fixed amount.
- Direct sales: you favour direct contact with your customer.
- Create a community: build relationships and have interactions. At the time of writing this article, this channel is very popular.
- Participating in trade fairs: with the aim of meeting other professionals in your sector, and why not work on partnerships?
- Influencer marketing: where influencers (bloggers, youtubers) recommend your brand, service or product.
- Engineering as marketing: coding or proposing a technically excellent experience and making this technique available to other players. Let's take the example of HubSpot to illustrate this channel: HubSpot is a CRM that puts its technical advantages in the spotlight so that other companies can use its services.
- Email marketing: communicating by email gets you in people's pockets. The 30-40% open rate you can achieve is far higher than what other channels can get you.
- Public speaking, giving talks: this is a relevant channel to position yourself as an expert and make yourself known to a wide audience.
- SEM(search engine marketing): same principle as SEO, but paid. In short, it is the paid placement of keywords on search engines.
- Offline marketing: this is advertising in the so-called "traditional" media: TV, radio, magazines, newspapers.
- Content marketing: you can produce quality content to become a reference in your field, generate enough interest from your prospects that they become real customers. It also allows you to address your less immediate targets and share content that makes them want to know more about your offers and, by doing so, turn them into prospects. Like nyuko does here with Meetanentrepreneur.lu
Top 10 channels to pursue as a freelancer
- SEO: Create a GoogleMyBusiness account. This is the most basic requirement! The bare minimum to get started. You need to be found on Google.
- Use existing platforms: be present on freelance marketplaces such as Upwork, MALT or LinkedIn.
- Participate in and/or organise local events. You can also use the Meetup platform.
- Create partnerships with other freelancers or build up a relationship with larger companies.
- Direct selling: this includes e-commerce, phone calls, canvassing.
- Build your own community or join an existing one to meet peers.
- Participate in trade shows! Exhibit or go as a visitor to network.
- Email marketing: send emails to offer your service or product and/or write a newsletter to collect user data.
- Give talks or share your experiences. Public speaking is an excellent exercise. It increases your audience and positions you as an expert.
- Content marketing: share quality content on your blog and especially on social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram etc., depending on your targets). The key here is to post regularly. You can also do this on instant messengers like Whatsapp or Messenger with a "privileged" group to which you share valuable content.
Select a few, test and repeat
How can you test these acquisition channels to keep only the ones that are most relevant to you? Use the bullseye framework: this methodology developed by Gabriel Weinberg is a framework for developing and testing traction channels in a systematic and mechanical way.
- I repeat, at the beginning, you will spend 50% of your time on your traction channels, i.e. prospecting, and the other 50% on your product or service.
- Your traction channels are of course cumulative.
- The traction channels can be exhausted. Don't overdo it, or your audience will get bored or even annoyed...
Five steps to test your traction channels:
- Brainstorm: identify a strategy for each channel you choose. List the channels that seem promising in relation to your personas, then come up with an idea of how to proceed for each channel.
- Determining the potential for traction: this is where you plan the timing for your intended channels. You can do this exercise by asking yourself if they will bring you customers in the short, medium or long term.
- Prioritisation: choose three channels to focus on with short-term results.
- Test: define the next step in each of these three channels. This is where you set out your test scenarios.
- Repeat: repeat your scenarios with an open mind, while remaining firmly attached to the fundamentals of the approach: why are you working on your acquisition channels? What is the objective?
This will allow you to listen closely to your customers, to gather feedback and to develop your business continuously.
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