My first business was created by cashing out every penny of my 401k fund and investing in myself out of consumer frustration. Not only did I not have a marketing plan, I didn’t do any market research and went with my gut. Yes, my trusted gut that had only ever worked for massive companies with huge marketing departments in house. How hard could it be to market a business in a country where I was a brand new immigrant and didn’t have a friend, let alone any business contacts? Allow me to share with you the four free marketing tips that saved my business and helped me become an award winning fast growth entrepreneur.
TELL EVERYONE: Word of Mouth Marketing is King
It’s not about who you know, but who you know who knows someone you need to know. Create an affordable postcard and set about spreading the word guerrilla style. Enlist your neighbors, the parents of your child’s classmates, your daycare lady, anyone you know to help you get the word out. Never waste an opportunity to tell someone why you began your entrepreneurial adventure. If you have a brick and mortar, share your passion with each customer who comes through your door. If you are a service provider, share your story with each new client. It’s not about fancy marketing pieces, but it is about knowing your why and sharing your passion for why you are doing what you are doing with everyone. Passion is contagious, so build your own buzz in the community. You are going to be the best publicist your brand could ever have.
PARTNER UP: Build an Army Who Care
If you are giving someone your business, then they need to be spreading the word about your business. Auto insurance agent already has someone else in your business that they refer all their business to? SWITCH. Pay more. It will be worth it when you gain a business partner who is invested in helping you grow your business. One of my biggest referral sources was my local wine store, which I frequented for both sanity and gifts for referral partners. Every day we vote with our dollars and if the people you give your dollars to aren’t invested in your business, move on to more enthusiastic business partners.
SOCIAL MEDIA: Your New Best Friend
Not sure about this social media thing? Learn to love it. Buy Dave Kerpen’s “Likable Social Media” and dive in because social media is going to be your best friend in the free marketing world. Think of social media as a small town square. LinkedIn is the local banker, who always knows what business is growing and who is hiring. Twitter is the church, where everybody is always chatting and carrying on about what is new in real time. Facebook is your local store, where what you love and buy says a lot about who you are. Being from a tiny town myself, social media always made perfect sense to me because it was the way my small town worked, but online. As a new entrepreneur back in the MySpace days before Facebook was on the scene, I just started by spending an hour a day chatting with new people. Gradually that grew and grew and, as new social media communities like Twitter and LinkedIn came on the scene, I dove in because my MySpace friends had already helped guide me to the best restaurants, baby stores, and gyms in my community. Find a social media community that clicks with your style of communication and master it before trying to be all things to all people. Better to be a master of Facebook than a jack of all social media trades.
GIVE BACK: Do Good and Good Will Come To You
You’re a busy, talented, important individual who has something to give to the world. I know this because you took the rare leap into the shark infested waters of capitalism. Congratulations! Now, don’t just hoard all that talent with your business. Find a cause. Preferably something that you are equally as passionate about. Every entrepreneur should have a philanthropic cause that they contribute to at least one a month. It will grow your network and keep your priorities in line. As you get to be an even bigger deal, give back more. Not necessarily more money, but more time, more resources, more of whatever it is that you have to make the world a better place. My passion for entrepreneurism comes from my core belief that we all have something to give. You were put on this Earth to do more than just make money and setting aside a day each month to step outside of your business to put your time and talent to work for something bigger than yourself will keep you humble and sane. The more good you do, the more good will come to you and your business.