6 Sites That Can Help You Reach Your Customers

My Customers Are Out There, But How Do I Reach Them?

Possibly the most pressing question for any new startup or small business who has a great product is, how do I find customers? After all, a great idea or product isn’t worth anything if it isn’t making its way into the lives of the people who will benefit most from it.

So, short of creating a viral video showcasing your product or dropping $10 million on a 30-second Super Bowl ad, it’s impossible to get enough exposure for your product so that potential customers will actually take notice, right?

Wrong. There are countless ways to get your product into the spotlight without breaking the bank (think digital marketing, SEO), but there are also services designed specifically to help you, the entrepreneur with a great product, connect with the eager customers who will benefit from your aforementioned great product.

Here are six websites that can help you find the customers you’re looking for so you can market directly to the customers that matter the most for you:

LinkedIn Alumni

If you’re a college graduate, it’s pretty likely that you already have a large network of potential consumers within the even larger network of your college or university’s alumni community. So while you’re probably already on LinkedIn (and if you’re not, you should be) what you may not realize is that LinkedIn is a great way to connect with potential customers, and ones that already have something in common with you.

LinkedIn’s alumni feature can give you the detailed contact info of your old classmates and help facilitate potential business connections. All you have to do is use your mutual education background as an icebreaker and see if any of your fellow alums might be looking for or know of someone who is looking for your product.

Data.com Connect

Data.com Connect’s catchphrase is “in business it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Obviously it’s not the most original tagline, but it does tell you what they’re all about. With this service you can get the contact info of potential customers either by providing contact info (your own or someone else’s) or by paying a modest monthly fee.

They guarantee 100% complete contact info for every result listed on their site because the contact information comes from other members of the Connect community. One of the biggest perks of this service is that every time you add or update someone else’s contact to the network, you get access to a new contact in return.

Data.com Connect is really a great service for people who have a strong professional network to begin with as each user’s contributions to the network are rewarded with even more access to potential business connections.

Rapportive

Rapportive is an add-on for gmail users that uses information from your existing social networks (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google +) to display detailed contact info in a side-bar. So instead of getting gmail adds in your sidebar, you have useful, detailed contact information of the people you’re corresponding with.

Sample screenshot of what Rapportive looks like in your gmail sidebar.

The best thing about Rapportive: it’s totally free. The not-so-good thing about Rapportive: it relies on information you already have access to. It’s certainly a convenient tool however, as it aggregates a lot of information that you might not have otherwise seen and puts it all right where you need it – your gmail account.

By adding Rapportive to your gmail account, you’ll be able to see the professional network of almost everyone you communicate with through email so it might help you find potential customers in the contacts you already correspond with.

Hoovers

This service from Hoovers is designed specifically for finding sales leads, so while it’s not free, it should help you find people who will actually buy your product. The sales leads function will give you a list of contacts for your specific industry and in your area.

Basically this service does all of the legwork for you so that you don’t have to waste time pouring through google search results. Paying for contact info means that you can reach a potential customer directly and be that much closer to your end goal – converting a potential customer into a customer.

InfoUSA

Similar to Hoovers, InfoUSA once again provides mailing lists and sales leads at a cost. In addition, InfoUSA can help you craft email marketing and direct mail marketing campaigns so that once you have contact information, you’re sending out the best marketing materials possible.

InfoUSA’s big selling point is their experience and data quality. Having been in the information gathering business for over 40 years, InfoUSA is a leader in the field of providing useful contact information to its clients. Moreover, they boast over 500 full-time researchers, so you can guarantee that they’ll be able to find the contact information you’re looking for much more quickly than you can.

ThomasNet

A free platform for suppliers/producers to connect with potential buyers. The site features a blanket search option so that buyers can find what you’re selling based on your company name, industry, service category, etc.

The biggest perk that ThomasNet gives you (the seller) is the name authority that comes with being listed on their site. Unfortunately, ThomasNet only lists certain sellers (think engineering and chemical industries and products) but it’s worth taking a look to see if your product might fall under one of their categories.

These are just a few of the services you can tap into to get accurate contact info or sales leads, and there are definitely more ways. As long as the service you’re using is providing you with the kind of high-quality information that you need in order to drive your business forward, it’s probably a good resource for you.

Remember, there are tons of great and innovative ways for you to take your business further, sometimes you just have to look for them.

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