Starting a new business on a small budget is never easy. But being new to the industry, it’s important to build the best track record and gain as much positive attention as possible in order to quickly upgrade and expand your company.
Below, 15 gurus from the Fast Company Board of Directors share their time and knowledge on low-cost ways to create a buzz factor about your product or service.
1. REGISTER FOR A COMMON MARKETING CHANNEL.
Affiliate marketing has been shown to be a powerhouse marketing channel for small businesses. Because affiliate marketing requires very little up-front cost, you can focus on building a strong network of brand ambassadors to advocate for your product with no upfront costs. Make sure you work with influencers that resonate correctly with your brand and have the audience you want to reach. – Mendel Cohen, Kraft Digital
2. BE AUTHENTIC IN THE WAY YOU CONNECT WITH CUSTOMERS.
Connecting with your customers or customers in an honest and authentic way at all touchpoints will lead to organic growth and a strong reputation in your industry. Making your customers or clients feel important and ensuring your services or products align with their core values will help generate recommendations and brand advocates. – Little Rader, Ergobaby
3. CREATE A SUPPORT STRUCTURE WITH OTHER COMPANIES.
Identify an attractive partnership that can add scale and credibility. Build the support structure to grow the partnership and work on a plan to find joint win-win results for both companies. If you view the partner as an extension of your team, you have added scale, expertise and reach to your company. It also means that you will direct dollars into the partnership so it can thrive. – Paola Doebel, Ensono
4. USE LOCAL CHAMBER OF COMMERCE RESOURCES.
One way B2B can grow in a single market would be to explore your local chamber of commerce. Do you receive the email addresses of other members and are you allowed to email this list? Rooms is a good resource and network for startups. – Laura Kerbyson, Laura Kerbyson Design Company
5. JOIN SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS.
Word of mouth advertising is very important. If you provide a great service, people will visit and repurchase again. Leaders should also pay attention to social media marketing and storytelling. Almost everyone has a phone with alerts ready. It is inexpensive and the results can be exponential. – Maurice Kelly, Windpact Inc.
6. DON’T HESITATE TO ASK FOR REFERENCES.
Be comfortable asking questions: Ask people for advice. Then ask these recommendations how you can support them. Ask them to read your next article for clarity or dimension, because people love to help! – Michelle Hayward, Bluedog
7. UPGRADE YOUR CONTENT MARKETING STRATEGY.
To get started, all you have to do is create how-to posts, summary articles and ‘best’ content for your industry. You will need to optimize your posts for search engines and then build backlinks to your business. While it’s a lot of work, it’s inexpensive and has long-term benefits that outweigh the results you get from short but expensive ad campaigns. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
8. SELECT YOUR PRO-BONO JOB SMART.
It may sound strange, but I was extremely limited in taking on pro-bono projects. Some will argue that you missed opportunities to build your portfolio, but I will counter that it saved me a lot of suffering and was able to use the time I would give for free in my own business. When I took clients with small budgets, I still charged a nominal fee to get them to actually invest in the project. – Hannah Fryer, Brambling & Co., LLC
9. TRUST SOME SPEAKING SPEAKERS.
Avoid social media. Getting attention, building and converting trust is extremely difficult if no one has heard of you. Instead, ask for recommendations and introductions, and try to make small talk at events your audience attends. Attend annual or biennial trade shows. People are there to grow their business and have spent time and money getting involved. So focus on captive audiences, not crawlers! – Mike Koenigs, Super Power Accelerator
10. WRITE AND PUBLISH ARTICLES.
It’s been seen. Write and post often and make sure you’re visible by building your company in the public domain. It’s as easy as making simple, consistent social media posts or engaging in a public dialogue with industry veterans. Getting started is relatively inexpensive and can help you get the attention you need to grow your business. – Bilal Aijazi, Polly
11. KNOW YOUR COMPANY’S MISSION AND VALUE.
Make sure all employees understand and can speak to the brand’s mission and the value the company offers. If everyone is there, on social media, at conferences, or in speaking engagements singing from the same page, this message will eventually take hold. When you deliver on your promises, your clients and clients will receive this message and work on their own – Richard RB Botto, Stage 32
12. BOOST YOUR CREATIVITY.
Be creative and think outside the box for resources you may need. You don’t always need the latest and most up-to-date technologies. For example, there is no shame in using Excel as your customer relationship management system to get started. It helps leaders and their teams define sales and customer engagement. You can use daily tools to launch and integrate new tools as you grow. – Leigh Burgess, Bold Industries Group, Inc.
13. DO THE RIGHT FAVORITIES FOR THE RIGHT PEOPLE.
When I started my job, I did a few free book projects for my mentor. He eventually referred me to so many clients that my business blew up. But I also did a favor to people who didn’t appreciate it. So make sure that the person you are trying to serve is not a receiver, use your special skills to connect them and you will be paid 100 times that. – Anna David, Old Launchpad
14. CONTINUE TO INCREASING COOPERATION OPPORTUNITIES.
Team up with trusted partners, thought leaders, and publications to create engaging content that entertains, educates, and engages viewers. In addition to leveraging owned social media outlets, team up at industry events and encourage content partners, collaborators and thought leaders to share the love by sharing content that highlights their expertise and perspectives in their communities. – Val Vacante, Merkle, a dentsu company
15. CONTACT LIVE WITH MORE PEOPLE.
It really depends on your industry, company and target customer. But in most industries, if you’re just starting out, you need to talk to real people. Many entrepreneurs think that buying advertising or social media will get the job done quickly. But nothing can replace reaching out to people and chatting live. Networking and connecting with more people is irreplaceable. – Kevin Namaky, Gurulocity Brand Management Institute