An image of four building blocks, each inscribed with an aspect of marketing and united to fit together, is used to illustrate the concept of new client acquisition, the process of getting new clients into your business.

Client acquisition is a linchpin to running a successful business. Small-business owners, in particular, need to have a keen focus on how they engage their potential customer pool and also how they inspire their current customer stable as well.

This stage of planning and strategy could make or break your business. In the following article, I hope to shine some light on some points of focus that are essential to the initial planning stages of customer acquisition and also provide flexible options for customer retention.

Most small-business owners have great confidence in the product or service they provide. However, some tend to struggle when it comes to getting the word out that they are absolutely awesome at what they do!

In the early stages of my career as a massage therapist, I believed word-of-mouth would simply travel throughout my potential client pool. I figured that if I got one client in the door then the floodgates would open, because one would turn into two and then exponentially grow.

Unfortunately, this was a fantasy. I quickly discovered that operating in a real business world would need to be more deliberate.

This is when I began to look into ways to funnel business through my front door. There were four main items I focused on in the early stages and I would like to address those here, because if it wasn’t for these fundamental building blocks of customer acquisition I may not have had the opportunities for success I experienced throughout my career.

The four points I focused on were content marketing, targeted marketing, strategic partnerships and after-sale efforts. These focus points were the building blocks of my success in the massage industry.

1. Content Marketing

Content marketing was something I sought out because it is one of those right-in-front-of-you types of ideas. Content marketing can be anything from blogs and videos to articles and indirect promotions. This is where you can put a face and personality on your product.

Once you have the content created it is very simple to use and re-use. Content marketing isn’t directly promoting a product or service you engineered; rather, it is putting your name and possibly the face of your business in the subconscious of the consumer.

An example of content marketing could be posting something on social media that is closely related to your business, but tagging it with your logo or title. In the massage therapy arena an example could be starting a vlog about the health benefits of myofascial release.

Content marketing is a great way to encourage customers to seek you out and get to know what you have to offer. You become a point of interest that potential customers want to get to know about. This little bit of curiosity could be the amber that lights a fire of frenzied consumerism…if you target the right clientele.

2. Targeted Marketing

I really enjoy developing content, but something commonly overlooked when doing so is focusing on the targeted customer base of a business. The world is a melting pot of different generations. From baby boomers to millennials, every group has commonalities in the ways we think and act.

If I develop content that is based on an early ’80s reference and market it to a young person in their early 20s, the excitement and humor may be lost on them and I could lose a potential customer before I even begin.

Targeted marketing begins with identifying your customer base. This could mean targeting a specific age range, gender, dysfunctional need (if working injury recovery, for example), or even economic level. Whichever it is, this should be a focused decision. Trying to make content geared toward too many socioeconomic categories could come off as moot and leave the majority of people scratching their heads.

Targeted content should also try to steer clear of controversial topics, as you are trying to create revenue and not rivalry. One of the best ways I have found to whittle down the excess and focus on the appropriate client pool is to use Google to find the demographics of my surrounding area.

Once I do this, I understand how my content should be designed and how the delivery method should be focused.

An example of how this process could be used inaccurately would be participating in a TikTok trend and posting it to social media while conducting business in a community that primarily consists of 60- to 70-year-old retirees. Who are you going to reach?

Outside of trying to reach customers via direct and indirect marketing, you should be actively trying to reach out to fellow business owners to assist with your marketing. This is a great way to get yourself established by doing a little surfing on the coattails of well-established businesses.

3. Strategic Partnerships

Prior to becoming a business owner, I would wonder why some offices I went to had business cards of other local businesses in their waiting areas. I later came to understand that this was a form of strategic partnership marketing. Well-established businesses are a great way to align yourself with businesses that have done a lot of the marketing for themselves already.

One of my initial strategic partnerships was with a pain-management doctor. In order to get my foot in the door and spark conversation with him I delivered cupcakes to his front office workers with a kind note and my business name attached. After this I reached out requesting a meeting with the head of the office and later established one of my first referral partnerships that blossomed into a path to insurance billing.

Over a small batch of cupcakes, we began a mutually beneficial business relationship that spanned many years.

4. After-Sale Efforts

Getting customers in the door is fundamental, but keeping them is perennial. Once you get a customer to purchase a product or service, the real work begins. This is the point after sale. What you do in the latter days, weeks and months could be the determinant between a one-time and long-time customer.

A few points of focus for after the sale should be: providing the same level of service through all interactions, employees mirroring your vision, and caring even once the customer stops coming back. Placing emphasis on these points shows the customer you are willing to provide the same level of service at each and every interaction, which in turn inspires confidence in your business.

I learned a long time ago that when it comes to my business I cannot afford to have a bad day. This not only means in my performance as a massage therapist, but also as a customer service specialist.

It is absolutely paramount that anyone who comes through my door is treated with respect and dignity and afforded the highest level of service possible. This has to be the standard. Not only because it is a personal value, but also due to the fact that people will talk.

Customers will inevitably talk about their experience. It is essential that you as the business owner do everything in your power to maintain a positive reputation for products and services.

Not only is it important for you to provide consistent quality and services, but more so your employees. They are the day-to-day operators and in your absence the face of the company. They should be mirror copies of your standards of services. A way to accomplish this is to author an employee handbook so that standards are in black-and-white and irrefutable.

A training program is essential as well. You cannot expect your employees to operate the same way as you if they do not know how you operate.

Lastly, follow up with both your new and old customers. I found that email newsletters and promotions are great ways to remind customers of what a great product I can provide. Try to set up auto-deliveries of your latest promotions and marketing content. This is a great way to show that you are still providing the same service that brought customers to you originally.

Client Acquisition is Key

Customer acquisition is an important part of any business and needs to be attended to, or you could be opening up shop on one day and closing indefinitely the next.

Creating content that is relatable to your target customer will encourage them to rush to your doorstep. Developing strategic partnerships could help establish you as a fundamental provider within the community without much cost or effort in branding and marketing of your own. Performing necessary after-sale work will maintain clientele.

Customers will go where they feel welcome and well taken care of. Make client acquisition a strategic point of focus and your business will be built on a foundation of success.

Jeanette Falu-Bishop

About the Author

Jeanette Falu-Bishop owns Massage Business Education & Branding LLC, through which she teaches how to start or improve an already-established massage business through prerecorded online courses, live trainings and business conferences.