When it comes to finding new customers for your creative business, I love to think back to the early days when I was scared to publish a new website because “the whole internet” would see it. Yea right, I WISH!
The fact of the matter is that website traffic and paying customers are hard to find for a budding online business. Now, anytime I talk about traffic, I mean high-quality traffic – potential customers who come to your site with the intention to browse or buy your offer. This isn’t about click-bait, it isn’t about getting traffic for the sake of traffic, and it’s certainly not about getting more views.
The strategies I share here are always geared toward making actual sales.
Moreover, the average industry conversion rate is 2-3%, and that average is based on direct sales via email marketing. In other words, those people who subscribed to your list because they’re interested in hearing about every offer, new product and promotion? You can only expect 2.5% to translate to actual sales.
Direct traffic (people visiting your website at any given time) is even harder to convert.
Welcome to a new and ongoing series on Marketing Creativity: Marketing Hacks for Creatives (coming to you in volumes), building off the post, The Ultimate Guide to Marketing for Creatives. In case you’re just joining me, it’s best to start there for a complete picture of all that we’re going to cover.
Today we’re talking about finding new customers for your business, and we know four things for sure:
- You have products or content for sale.
- You’ve set up an online storefront and/or website = You have a point of sale
- You’re working your social media profiles. You’ve got profiles on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and/or Instagram.
- And it’s feeling ALL FOR NAUGHT because nobody’s paying any attention.
Worse, you’re probably feeling the same as many other creatives: Who has time to MAKE products and figure out how to MARKET them at the same time?!
I feel you. It’s a lot of work to get any small business off the ground, and a creative business is no different.
Find New Customers for Your Business
First of all, you don’t need everyone to find your business, you only need one ideal customer. Then another. Then, you’ll aim for a roomful of her, and so on and so forth.
As you’re building your business, hone your efforts on finding one perfect customer at a time. At the end of the day, she’s the only thing that matters to your bottom line.
DON’T: Post, share and pin your product onto every wall and feed you can access
DO: Start having conversations with the right people
Now, when I taught this information inside The Luminaries Club, I listed 42 things I’ve done to gain more traffic. I came up with that list in 10 minutes, off-the-top. If I sat down to really mull it over, I could easily come up with more than 101 ways I’ve marketed my business to find new customers.
3 Things That Work
Today, I’m going to share three simple ways I’ve successfully reached for and connected with my ideal customers. You can follow my strategy step-by-step to create the same results for yourself.
#1 Create an offer
These days, nobody just GETS traffic. You have to EARN it. That means giving your visitors a reason to click or a visual experience that they can’t resist.
And let’s be clear here: you really have to work to create this experience for every visitor you want to greet.
I can’t stress the importance of the offer enough. Listing your business online WILL NOT grant you traffic, sales or subscribers. You have to do the marketing legwork and reach out to the visitors you seek.
The offer is basically an invitation to check your business out, and I suggest you give potential visitors a very good reason because you are competing with millions of other businesses on the web.
I’ll dive deeper into this topic soon, but for now: start thinking about what problems you’re solving for the customer + what you could create to welcome them while simultaneously showcasing your talents and abilities. I’ll give you some more specific examples in an upcoming post, How to Grow Your Email List.
#2 Pinterest referrals
Online business is a rapidly evolving industry. There’s always a new platform on the horizon, and right now, Pinterest is it. My traffic increased by 400% the minute I figured out how to utilize the power of Pinterest. It refers hundreds, sometimes thousands of visitors to my website every day.
If you’re not getting a lot of traffic referrals from Pinterest – it’s one of two things:
- Your images aren’t appealing, or
- The content doesn’t serve other pinners.
Pinterest has taught me a TON about visuals. While readers have always been skimmers (in other words, content does better with headlines and bullets that the reader can skim), people these days are bombarded with messages everywhere they look, and attention spans are shorter than ever before.
Therefore, skimmers have become scanners – meaning, they’re scanning the story or product page for something they can use to make quick visual sense of what they’re seeing.
Direct promotion pins don’t work because the offer is on the table before the pinner even knows you – they do that quick once over and immediately know you’re selling something. If they don’t know you, trust me they’re not interested and selling to them on Pinterest will turn them off even worse.
But a styled shoot, on the other hand – where you stage your product in an attractive light and show the customer why it’s so appealing – that will leave pinners starving to click.
How do you learn what works on Pinterest? SPEND MORE TIME ON PINTEREST. Pay attention to what’s already getting thousands of repins. Look for your market’s most popular boards and self-critique your efforts against theirs.
Social media is a great marketing tool, but posts on most platforms have a terribly short life-span. Twitter posts are gone within seconds, Instagram posts are buried within a few hours, and you’re lucky if anybody sees your Facebook post at all!
My favorite thing about Pinterest as a platform is that it’s the ONLY place where your post actually becomes more popular over time. It’s compound interest at its best!
#3 Join a support group
The best way to get people to see your work is by having a lot of people already looking at it. Weird, right? It’s a creative business conundrum for sure.
In an effective marketing system it’s called “social proof.” It means we’re automatically attracted to what we perceive as popular, and we’re more likely to be skeptical of everything else.
In the upcoming How to Grow Your Email List, I’ll explain why it was much harder to get my first 250 subscribers (back in 2010) than it was to get my last 2,500 subscribers (last quarter). It’s a great example of how social proof and existing status create a momentum of their own.
There are hacks to that momentum, though, and that’s what this series is all about! Today we have Pinterest group boards, Facebook groups, membership programs and clubs to help boost each other’s marketing efforts, and it can be extremely effective when done right.
I manage a free-to-join Facebook group, Creative Entrepreneurs by Marketing Creativity that focuses solely on cross-promotion. I’ve seen as much as a 1,700% increase in post reach because of the group.
And if you find a highly effective group to join, such as the one I manage, and you’re not getting much support … it’s not them, it’s you.
Again, it’s going to be one of two things:
- Your images aren’t appealing, or
- The content doesn’t serve others.
These two items have to be perfected in order to find new customers for your website or storefront, so if you’re doing all of the above and seeing no results, it’s time to revisit branding, photography and your offer (serve people, and serve them well).
Thanks for reading! If you loved these tips, please be sure to check out The Luminaries Club. I’m currently teaching a 9-module creative business course that will help you build a marketing system to drive more sales, customers and clients to your online storefront.
Until next time and all the best,
I recently became your subscriber because I found your advice for extremely helpful. Many thanks for sharing all this with us.
Thanks, Mariella! Glad you’re here <3
You make SUCH a great point about the two reasons that people aren’t gaining traction. I’m a member of a few cross-promotion groups on Facebook and the biggest problem I run across when trying to share other people’s content is that often it’s just not shareable. Either the image is not good quality or the message just doesn’t translate to my brand and audience. (Most of the time it’s just the image though).
Yes – a little development in that #1 issue goes a long way! In today’s online world, your images have to be sharp. Thanks for adding here, Kara!
Great post, Lisa! It really resonated with me when you said that Pinterest is the one of only social platforms where your content gains popularity over time. I’m definitely going to remember that!
Thanks for providing awesome content. I’m definitely looking forward to the next post on building an email list!
Great post-thinks. I feel I am stuck at this point: “Start having conversations with the right people”. Can you give some examples of how you have put this into action? I have identified people that I’d like to partner with. I follow them, comment on their posts…what next?
Thanks so much Lisa for all of your incredibly sensible and helpful advice. I love your honest and down-to-earth approach. I have only just subscribed, but your solid points have helped me already. What a wonderful thing you are doing for others!