It’s a new year, you have a new business idea, identified your own business niche, researched your market and are all geared up to get clients.

But where do you begin?

There are many prospective users of your product or service and you have to target as many of them as possible .Of those users, only a percentage will be your eventual clients. That is why a “sales funnel” is shaped as a funnel wider at the top and shorter at the bottom.

If you have the luxury of time you should try and fill the funnel or “pipeline” with as many viable marketing methods as possible and chart carefully which methods work for you and which don’t.

Traditional methods include direct mail, email marketing, television, radio, billboard or newspaper advertising and cold calling, Some methods will work for your industry or your personality and other will not. Newer methods include pay per click advertising and affiliate marketing.

Firstly allow me to paint a bleak picture: Statistics show that 44% of  direct mail is never opened. 91% of users unsubscribe from emails they previously opted in to. Radio, billboard and newspaper advertising generally helps for general awareness to pave the way for other more direct marketing methods but do not create sales.

Cold calling through a list of leads, can a soul destroying exercise  especially as more often than not you will get through to the PA who’s main role is to filter out cold callers!

So what does work?

If you approach most successful business people you will often hear that their clients were via referrals, networking, and word of mouth. That sounds simple so why don’t you have all the clients you need?

The answer is;  you are busy servicing your clients and dealing with the day to day running of the business, there are simply not enough hours in the day to do sales, besides that, most marketing methods are costly. In short the problem is time and money!

Allow me to share some ideas that are more effective use of your time and money.

Instead of cold calling try warm calling. Warm calling is calling someone you have met before or have been introduced to. Spend more effort on getting introductions from existing clients or people you know and you can spend less time more productively targeting fewer but better quality leads.

Is your website working for you? Do not forget that in this day and age your website is one of your most valuable marketing tools and the textual content rather than the imagery is what helps your Search engine rankings.

Anyone can create a website today using free platforms such as Wix, Weebly or Squarespace but for the right impression you might be better off getting a professionally designed website.

Besides search engine ranking which some of these free platforms do not fare well on, just the look and feel of your website can project a professional image or otherwise and effect a sale. It is one of the first thing prospective clients look up if they want to find out about you and your company. A poorly constructed website might even into question the validity of your company. They might be thinking is this company genuine or does it even exist.

A useful method of turning your website into a lead generator is by providing downloadable Whitepapers, informational videos or infographics about your field . Request that the user provides his email and name before he can download. That way you have captured  leads who you can now approach as a semi warm call, with the introduction ” I saw that you downloaded a whitepaper from our website…”

Create a blog on your website. Authoring articles online or on your website that are useful to your users can establish you as a knowledgeable individual in your field and what this does is provide added value and improve client loyalty. Articles published on your website can also improve Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) of your site.

Other methods of getting introductions is networking using Linkedin. Linkedin used to be a fairly static platform without too much interaction but they have recently changed its modus operandi and are now much more like Facebook. Build up your connections and then post steady updates. If your posts are interesting, you can get much more engagement than in the past and a greater reach amongst professional people who you want to target.