Building a business from scratch is hard enough.
To grow it is another challenge. It is very easy to be fooled by PR agencies to think that handing over your business will solve their problems.
When you really think about it, the person who really cares about your business is you.
Not to mention that in agencies, when push comes to shove, their priorities will be placed on the larger and more lucrative accounts. Thus leaving your small business in a disadvantage.
But worry not, the following ways are 3 solid things you can do to grow your business with a super low marketing budget. These tips are what I learnt from Sumo founder, Noah Kagan.
Bear in mind, that some of these tips do not show instant results, but rather grow over time and grow into an asset on their own.
1. Start a blog
Yes I know. You heard this a million times. But there’s a reason it’s common advice.
And like most good advice, too many people don’t take it seriously enough to do it consistently.
Probably because it takes 18 to 24 months of consistently hard work to see REAL results.
Unlike boosting ads on Facebook, having a regularly updated blog doesn’t rely on ad spend at all. You get organic traffic and word of mouth (which are the best forms of marketing – long term).
The main point of having a blog isn’t to have a 24 hour sales person pitching to every new visitor that lands on your site.
It’s main purpose is to build a relationship with your audience and in turn create a platform you can use to connect to your fans.
It’s like a garden. Slow growing in the beginning but then it produces dividends long term.
Do not expect traffic to grow instantaneously once you start blogging. Do it consistently and do it well, and eventually you will get what you deserve.
2. Your Dream 100
“If I was going to serve your dream customer on a silver platter, who would that person be?”
I particularly love this exercise. Your Dream 100 are the top 100 people you want to collaborate with or have as clients.
For example, if you are in the video creation, your Dream 100 may include influencers like Casey Neistat or Marques Brownlee.
Marc Ecko, the founder of Ecko Unltd, started off making custom artwork and t-shirts and sending them to his Dream 100 – celebrities. Most of them never got back to him. But then one day he heard that Spike Lee was directing a movie about Malcolm X, so he spray painted and gifted a custom t-shirt with Malcolm X on it and they have been business partners for the last 20 years.
Creating a list of 100 people now maybe a little daunting but take your time and think about who they are and how you can add value for them standing where you are.
Tom Bilyeu, co-founder of Quest Nutrition, always shares the same advice to most young upstarts:
“Be willing to work for free for someone who has the life you want, give your skills and your time,
because the worst outcome would be – they got free labour and you learned something new from them.”
3. Your customers are the best salespeople
This continues on the idea of word of mouth.
In order to do this, you must first create an amazing product.
Sam Altman, the president of startup incubator Y Combinator, often says that is much better starting out to create something only a few people love, than something a lot of people like.
Kevin Kelly would refer to these few people as “true fans”- the kinds of people who will consume everything you put out and proactive evangelize for you when the time arises.
But to make the product amazing is the first part, the second act is to facilitate the sharing.
Richard Thaler, the author of Nudge, refers to these things as choice architecture. A little difference in the way information is presented or interface rearranged can fundamentally affect the choices the end user makes.
Make it super easy for your customers to share your business and incentivize them to do so.
For example, you can add a shared discount when your existing customers refers your business to a friend:
“Share this code with your friends to get $12 off their first purchase and $12 off your next purchase.”
The other example would be a simple call-to-action at the end of your blog posts or videos with:
“Share this video/blog post with someone you know is starting a business.”
Some of these gestures may seem trivial but there is no harm in adding them if it really creates a win-win for both parties.