Here are 26 ways to get new clients and build a rock-solid retail business.
CLIENT REFERRALS. This is the cheapest, most efficient way of building your client list. Remember always to ask customers if they know of anyone they think might be interested in your products or services.
LOCAL ADS. Run an advertisement in your weekly neighborhood newspapers. They're less expensive than daily papers, and can be just as effective. Make sure to include the benefits of your product, the name of your company, and your telephone number.
YELLOW PAGES. Place your business in the Yellow Pages.
VENDOR CONTACTS. Take a list of all of the people you write checks to (pool guy, lawn care, dry cleaners, etc.) and approach them about being customers.
VOLUNTEER WORK. Volunteer for your favorite local charity, organization or hospital. Volunteering gives you the opportunity to meet new people with a common interest (i.e., the volunteer work). The more people you know, the more products you will sell.
CONFERENCE ATTENDING. Meet people by attending all the free seminars in your local area. Attend paying seminars in which you have an interest.
BARGAINS/COUPONS. Put a coupon in the "ValPak" or through a local mailing house that sends out coupons or postcards by bulk to consumers. For more information about this service you can visit www.valpak.com.
COLD CALLS. Set a goal to make 25 calls for your retail business every week.
GET INVOLVED WITH TOASTMASTERS. Become a better communicator. Polish your presentation skills by becoming a better speaker. Learn to be more confident in front of people.
NETWORK GROUPS. Get social! This is a people business. Start getting around people. Join a local BNI (Business Network International) group or leads group. This is a great way to show off your product and meet potential clients. You should be able to get this information from your local Chamber of Commerce.
LET CUSTOMERS KNOW YOU TAKE CREDIT CARDS. Very simple to add to business cards and brochures, the convenience of using a credit card will attract buyers.
LOCAL PAPER. Send a press release to the local paper to let them know you have a new business in town and you are now open.
BROCHURES AND FLYERS. Use these pieces of media for special offers or sales. Providing your current customers with up to date information is essential. I suggest that you mail something to past and current customers once a month, or at least once a quarter. Next time they think about supplements, insurance, a legal matter, etc; they will think of you first and pass along your information.
PARTNERSHIPS AND JOINT VENTURES. Find local businesses you can partner with to promote your products, and split the profits. For example, go to car dealerships and sell car-cleaning supplies. Go to a local hairdresser and sell beauty products. Go to a local Bondsman and offer legal services.
NEWSLETTER. Stay in touch with your customers by delivering an online or direct mail newsletter. The newsletter should be filled with helpful, relevant information that the customer will be interested in. Include a tips list and other helpful hints. Have fun with it and provide interesting information. Your customers will talk about it to their friends--which will generate referrals.
INTERNET. Go into chat rooms, place ads on the billboards and use your own personal profile to attract customers to you.
HOME PARTIES. Invite four or five friends over for a theme night that relates to your product. These gatherings can be a lot of fun and can generate both quick sales and long-lasting customers.
TELEPHONE SALES. Call all your friends, family and past prospects to whom you've shown the business but who chose not to get involved. Ask them to consider becoming a customer. It's a short, direct call but can be very profitable.
CALLING CARD. Never leave the house without your business card. You never know whom you might run into. Add value to your card so prospects are encouraged to hold on to it. Offer a 10 percent discount printed on the back, provide "Seven keys to staying healthy," etc.
INVITATIONS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS. Introduce yourself by sending out invitations to local businesses (the Chamber of Commerce should be able to help you out with names and addresses). Send out announcements that you are now taking on new clients.
USE YOUR PRODUCT IN PUBLIC. Every chance you get to take your supplements in public, do so. Wear your magnets so people can see them. Put your makeup case out when you're at lunch. Bring your logo-bottled water with you. Draw interest from the public by visually showing them your product and/or logo.
GO PRO. Advertise yourself as a professional consultant and not a representative or salesperson. If you sell jewelry, you're a jewelry consultant. If you sell discount calling cards, you're a communication consultant. If you sell gift baskets, you're a gift consultant.
GIVEAWAYS AND RAFFLE. Donate some of your products to the local silent auction; give away a product for a raffle at your children's school. Get the neighborhood connecting your name with your product!
BRAGGING RIGHTS. Have a prepared answer for, "What do you do?" Get it down to 15 seconds: who you are, what you do, whom you do it for, and how your customers benefit.
DIRECT MAIL. Mail only to current customers and past clients. Keep your name in front of them as often as you can afford to. Post cards work well. Flyers with discounts, sales or special offers will enhance customer loyalty and generate immediate income.
JOIN THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE. You're in business; you should join business organizations. It will help you meet local businesspeople, and more importantly, they will get to know you.
is co-founder of the Gove-Siebold Group (www.gove-siebold.com), a training organization that helps networkers develop world-class communication skills.