Ways to gain new customers for businesses

Every business struggles at some point with getting new customers. Sometimes economic changes make people more cautious with spending. Sometimes demographic changes in an area reshape local tastes. The stock approach to new customer acquisition is placing more ads on TV, radio and in print, often paired up with sales that slash profit margins. That approach may work, but it comes at a steep financial price. Getting new customers in the door can be done in other, less expensive ways.

Host-Beneficiary Marketing

Host-beneficiary marketing offers a comparatively low-cost way for newer businesses to entice customers from an established business serving the same customer segment. The newer business provides a free product or service to the customers of the established business. The established business promotes the offer as a reward for its customers. The new business gets customers in the door and the established business gets goodwill with minimal effort. A baker, for example, might offer sample platters of cupcakes to clients of an event planner. The event planner looks good for securing this offer. The baker gets people trying her product and, while they’re in the shop, many will probably buy other baked goods.

Creative Advertisement Placements

Traditional ad placements work, but only with huge investment and saturation. Creative advertising placements work by being different. The Mr. Clean brand got a boost with a campaign that repainted one line in crosswalks and dropped the Mr. Clean logo on it. A less logistically challenging option is placing ads on digital scorer tables. The tables get used at events where people stick around for hours at a time. That means attendees see the ad multiple times before they leave. While repetition isn’t everything in ad effectiveness, it does help.


Cross-promotion may be one of the easiest methods for drawing in new customers. In a twist on referral marking, businesses promote each other to customers, rather than customers referring other customers to a business. A tailor and dry cleaner, for example, make for natural cross-promotion partners. Both deal in clothing but don’t compete directly with each other. The challenge is finding a reputable business, which offers complementary services, willing to embrace cross-promotion. Success hinges on careful partner selection, as both businesses stake their reputations on the quality of service the other provides.

Start a YouTube Channel

YouTube commands an enormous, global user-base. That means the ideal customers for just about any business uses the site. A YouTube channel lets a business post new, targeted content created in-house, as well as curate related content from other channels. If a business wants to take things to the next level, it can develop a show. A show shouldn’t be naked promotion, but rather deliver on an interesting premise that allows contextual promotion. A car dealership could develop a show around visiting interesting locations within driving distance. It gets vehicles on screen without blatantly selling.

Embrace Social Responsibility

Social responsibility was a trend, often viewed cynically by the corporate masters that trotted it out to buff a company’s image. In recent years, though, it’s become something of a benchmark for millennials. Customers, in general, take a dim view of companies they perceive as socially irresponsible or blatantly unethical. Integrating social responsibility and transparency doesn’t mean remaking a business model. It means highlighting the social issue the business cares about and what the business is doing about it. A restaurant might take on child hunger as its issue of choice. The restaurant could include information in its newsletter about how to help, accept donations on behalf of a local or regional organization and even host fundraising events.

Securing new customers isn’t just about more marketing. Competing head-on with bigger, better-funded competitors in traditional marketing will just be expensive. Targeting marketing efforts through cooperative actions, such as cross-promotion and host-beneficiary relationships, gets a business in front of the right eyes. Social responsibility makes a business attractive to millennials and socially conscious consumers. YouTube offers access to a global market at a fraction of the price. Creative ad placements let business differentiate themselves with surprise and novelty. Taken individually and together, these approaches offer a more practical approach to getting new customers.

Adam Richards

About Adam Richards

Adam Richards is a semi-retired business professional originally from Bangor, Maine. He spent the majority of his career in sales and marketing where he rose to the marketing lead of a Fortune 1000 company. He then moved on to helping people as a career counselor that specifically helped bring families to self-sufficiency through finding them rewarding careers. He has now returned to Bangor for his retirement and spends his free time writing. This blog will be about everything he learned throughout his career. He'll write on career, workplace, education and technology issues as well as on trends, changes, and advice for the Maine job market and its employers.