How To Make Finding Your Next Customer Easier Than Ever Before

It can seem like finding new customers for your business is always a bit magic.

You put a little bit of social media, a little bit of content marketing, and a little bit of good old fashion person-to-person outreach in your cauldron. Then you say the magic words.

If everything was done just so–POOF!–your next customer appears.

Finding customers for your small business shouldn’t be difficult and it shouldn’t be magic. While there are plenty of systems you can use to make finding customers more methodical, the easiest I’ve found is building a community and letting new, high-value customers find you.

Before we go further, I want to explain what I’m not talking about here.

I am not suggesting that the best way to find new customers is by starting a free Facebook group that revolves around you, your brand, or even your creative pursuits.

Too often, knowing where your next customer is going to come from seems unpredictable at best and, at worst, like a huge gamble. Eliminate variables. Learn more.

I am talking about taking an intentional, thoughtful approach to building a community that is valuable in and of itself–but still supports your bigger business goals in a number of ways.

To put it a different way, Charles Vogl, author of The Art of Community, defines community as, “a group of individuals who share a mutual concern for one another’s welfare.” The community you create for your business isn’t about a concern for your business, it’s about a mutual concern for other members, for the goal of the community at large, for the mutual interest or identity that members share.

So how does a community that’s organized by your business but not about your business help you find new customers? There are at least 4 ways that community can support you and your marketing efforts.

Spreading The Word

You love it when customers talk about your business or products, right? Would you love it if they talked about it even more? I thought so.

Hands down, the best thing a community can do for your business is give people something to talk about. Whether it’s a free community or a paid community, an informal community or a formal community, community oozes potential for word of mouth marketing.

Take, for example, my favorite fitness app, Aaptiv.

I use Aaptiv every day to program workouts. Their audio personal training sessions have gotten me through learning the rowing machine, upping my speed as a runner, crushing my core, and building tons (for me) of muscle on my legs.

I am an Aaptiv addict!

I love it so much that I post my daily workouts to my Instagram Stories and use their hashtag: #teamaaptiv.

See what’s going on there? The hashtag is Team Aaptiv. First of all, hashtags are communities in and of themselves. I am also a part of #parksproject, #nationalparkgeek, and #pixiepalooza. Second, the “team” part implies that we’re all working together on our fitness goals.

I will admit that “Team Aaptiv” is an imperfect example because it seems that the community is about the app. However, as you peruse postings and even their free Facebook group, it becomes clear it’s all about mutual concern for fitness and health goals–not the business itself.

In showcasing the success stories of their community members and giving us a way to connect to one another, they help us truly care about other members using the app and working toward their own fitness goals.

Now, I’m most likely an Aaptiv customer for life. They get my annual subscription automatically and, as of yet, don’t have anything but some merch to offer. But, because of the community aspect–the “team”–I broadcast my membership far and wide.

The same can be true for your community as well. As customers, we’d rather talk about our own successes than a product. We’d rather share our connection and belonging than a brand.

If you can get people to talk about your product or service already, a community will supercharge your word of mouth marketing. If you struggle to get people talking, a community will create a context where sharing your mission is much easier.

Offering Social Proof

When you create a community that’s based on members’ mutual concern for one another–instead of your product or service–they naturally want to share their successes with the rest of the group.

Let’s imagine you teach photography workshops for moms like my friend Beryl Ayn Young.

You decide that you want to create a community for moms who love taking pictures so that they can improve their skills by trading notes with other moms. Photos get posted, questions get answered, and camera settings get demystified.

Over time, a mom who has joined starts to see how fantastic the photos are of all the women who have been to your workshops or retreats. They read the praise for how you make it easy to create incredible shots of the kids. It’s a no brainer: they’re signing up for your next offer.

Social proof goes a long way toward inspiring us to buy. Afterall, one of the biggest hurdles to a sale isn’t lack of confidence in you–it’s lack of confidence on the part of the potential customer. They worry they can’t get the results you promise because they’re just not up to the challenge.

Once they see 3, 10, or 100 people who are all proof that the “average” person can get results, they’re in.

Too often, knowing where your next customer is going to come from seems unpredictable at best and, at worst, like a huge gamble. Eliminate variables. Learn more.

Accelerating Know, Like, And Trust

If good marketing helps a potential customer know, like, and trust your company and your offer, then great marketing helps them know, like, and trust you as quickly as possible.

Communities do just that because communication in a community is a 2-way street.

Video marketing, content marketing, and email marketing might be chock-full of personality and useful information. But it doesn’t provide a meaningful way for people to talk back. You can have the best email automation in the world. But it doesn’t really feel like a conversation.

Communities break down the barriers around marketing. Even if you’re not responding to every post or every comment (and you shouldn’t be), the sense of openness that a community creates goes a long way to building trust in the brand that created it.

The more you can get community members talking to each other, the faster you’ll be able to find new customers.

Supporting Their Journey

The vast majority of offers you make help customers at just one spot on their journey. Communities–free or paid–are unique in that they can help customers over longer periods of time.

Even as your community members solve one problem or hit one milestone, the community is there to help them with the next, and the next, and the next. That means that, as you nurture members’ journeys, you’re also nurturing the potential for repeat business.

Since repeat business can make your business much more profitable, this potential tends to be an excellent return on energy invested for your company.

As your customers’ success grows and grows along their journey, they end up being incredible sources of social proof and word of mouth marketing–and that brings us right back to square one.

Is your business right for growing a community?

Not every business is a perfect fit for utilizing community-building as part of its strategy or business model. But if it’s an idea that’s intriguing to you, you’re probably a great fit to be a community builder!

If you have high values for openness, transparency, honesty, or collectivism and your company does too, community just might be the right step forward and a stellar way to find your next customer more easily than ever before.

Be sure to catch my next CreativeLive class–Build A Community & Grow Your Standout Business!

Too often, knowing where your next customer is going to come from seems unpredictable at best and, at worst, like a huge gamble. Eliminate variables. Learn more.

Tara Gentile FOLLOW >

Tara Gentile is a creativeLIVE instructor, business strategist, and the creator of the Customer Perspective Process.