Studies show that it takes six times more money to gain a new customer than to keep an old one. But there are times when you have to go after the new ones. So where do you find them? You could buy lists. You could ask for referrals from current customers. You could do cold calling and hope for the best. All of these ideas will bring you some customers but I like to start my day prospecting in my local paper.

The Front Page

Starting with the front page there is usually a mixture of national and local news. I look for anything happening in national news that affects local businesses. For example, the current shutdown and it’s effect on West Yellowstone and Gardiner are national and international issues but they still affect local interests. What I look for are names to contact and find any way that my company can do something to help the people involved in these issues.

The City Beat

Don’t forget the city, county and state government articles. They buy tons of goods and services. Keep up with what each branch is doing and constantly look for needs your company can fill. What’s going on. What things have been approved by the county commissioners or city commission?

Economy & Business Section

In the economy or business section I learn about local successes and challenges of local businesses. Who is doing what and how can I get involved? If a company is moving for example and I run a print shop then they are going to need new business cards and stationary. They might need remodeling help. New carpets? Cleaning Service? Snow removal perhaps. Parking lot striping.

Engagement & Wedding Announcements

You probably skip right over the engagement and wedding announcements. Big mistake. Here are two people that are going to combine households. They may be in the market for a new home or larger apartment. They are going to combine incomes and will need a bank and possibly financial planning. They may also be in the market for new furniture, carpet, draperies and many other household start-up items. They may also be thinking of starting a family.

Local Sports Teams

Winning sports teams are good for business. Elementary and high school athletes have proud parents who buy things. So do coaches. If you can get involved in booster clubs or support groups that work with local sports its a great way to meet future customers. Please don't get involved in these programs unless you are prepared to give it your all. You will lose customers if you try to scam them. Above all be honest and ethical.

Don’t Forget The Classifieds

The classified section is another gold mine of local information. Is you competition hiring? What would that tell you? Is their business growing? Are they preparing for a huge promotion or sale? People selling cars and other products may be short on money and need financial help.

People will often have moving sales or yard sales because they want to move to another place but not take all their junk along. Commercial realty is often listed here. Contact the realtor to give you a heads up when spaces are leased and to whom. Help wanted ads will tell you what companies may be on the move and might need your services.

Advertisers & Competitors

Last but not least are the advertisers throughout the paper. Who’s advertising what and is there a fit with your company? Can you team up with a company to supply complimentary but not competing products or services? Is your competitor advertising in the paper? What section are they in? What products and services are they offering? Are there any hints of future actions in their ads?

Some Final Thoughts

The bottom line is this; customers are trying their best to find you. The problem is they don’t always know where to look. Every contact you make will put your name in front of one more person who should be your customer.

When you read about one in the paper take a second and write a personal note to them.  Compliment them on their success and explain why they need you. It’s a great way to get your name out in a friendly, non-threatening way. Try looking through today’s paper and see how many potential customers you can find.

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