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How do we find new customers?

What is the top question that business leaders ask when trading conditions become difficult?

It’s ‘how do we find new customers?’

This was confirmed at a seminar for business leaders at the Bristol Business School here in the UK.

Other versions of the same question included:

  • How do we place our service in front of new customers?
  • How do we design services that will appeal to new clients?
  • How do we serve more clients?
  • What is stopping us from serving more clients?

The answer depends upon knowing your own business – what is working well and where your strengths lie.

Also knowing your customer – where they can be found, what they are talking about, the problems they want solving, and what they might need from you.

When trading conditions become tough this knowledge becomes vital.  Customer buying habits will change as they search for value for money, and new competitors will emerge ready with the right offer.

Big brands know this well, and will go onto the attack to ensure their customers are getting exactly what they need.

They will have the resources to be able to engage with their customers, try out new services, discover quickly what works and what doesn’t – do whatever it takes to reach out to new customers, bring them onboard, and to keep them.

Smaller businesses, without such deep pockets, can’t afford the same level of research.  To keep track of their prospects and customers they need data that’s already available.

This is data that indicates where to find potential new customers, what their priorities and preferences are likely to be, and how and when they might be reached.

It’s not going to all be in one place.  There will be separate sets of data that need to be targeted depending upon the question you most want to answer.

Each set of data may only provide a small gain.  But combine their effects over time, and the overall gain will grow exponentially.  And your ability to keep using targeted sets of data will continue to give you the edge over competitors.

For example,

Abi runs an Accountancy Practice processing the company accounts for small businesses.  There’s a great deal of competition, and success depends upon being very good at generating leads from potential clients.

Abi used data from Companies House listing all the businesses that are required to file company accounts, and when the accounts are due. 

Her targeted use of data involved writing to businesses just before their accounts were due to remind them of the approaching deadline.

Abi’s business experienced a lift in enquiries from this approach.  However, the addresses she was using were Registered Addresses, not necessarily the trading addresses where the target Directors were to be found.  Letters should reach their intended recipient, but there was no telling how long it would take.

Abi realised that a search of Google Places data could yield the trading address for a great many of the businesses on her list.

She therefore delivered a further gain to her business by using address data that ensured a much higher likelihood of timely receipt by the right person.

Abi now wants to offer a new array of services to higher value Clients. However, before jumping in and investing in a new marketing effort and additional people to perform the work, she is making further targeted use of data to establish the level of potential interest amongst her target companies. 

This involves harvesting what her target companies are publishing and listening to what they are saying to find timely opportunities to target specific individuals with the right offer.

Taken individually, each targeted use of data will yield a marginal gain in business.  But taken together, the overall gain can be many times the sum of the parts.

The key to success is to keep things simple and focus upon strategic objectives one at a time. 

In Abi’s case she focused upon her core proposition to her clients – that she is a safe pair of hands who will process accounts quickly and efficiently, and get the work done by whatever deadline is in play.

Her targeted use of data started by finding those people who would welcome, and be reassured, by that proposition – and then by ensuring that her proposition hit the right desk at exactly the right time.

It was only when this use of data became embedded and part of ‘business as usual’, that she investigated how targeted use of data could help her deliver her next value propostion to her Clients.

To help you to get going with targeted use of data in your business, sign up for our programme of workshops on ‘Using data to grow your business’FREE to businesses in the Greater Manchester Area.

Click here, or go to our landing page to find out more.


Paul Clarke



T: +44 333 301 0302