Wouldn't it be nice if a piece of content went viral and suddenly, a whole hoard of new clients were knocking at our door? Unfortunately, growing your business (usually) doesn't work that way. It takes hard work, a detailed marketing strategy, and a helpful drop of creativity to get the word out about your company.
This month, we reached out to some fellow entrepreneurs to learn about their most creative ideas for growing their business.
Self-publishing on Amazon. From marketing perspective, publishing a series of books using free Amazon tools in various formats - kindle, paperback, audio - has been the most effective and efficient technique to grow my business. The books have generated substantial direct, and residual, revenues, including bookings and sales deals, as well as top-tier media mentions, including Chicago Tribune, The Next Web, Huffington Post, and many more.
Matthew Capala, Search Decoder
Don't do board prep, exclusively. Boards are demanding. They can be tremendous resources, or a total time suck. Many a junior person will tell you that they have spent days or weeks preparing for a Board meeting, and then the Board doesn't even get to their agenda item, and the Board does nothing with all the prepared material.
So, we stopped doing this preparation. Instead, we made what the Board wanted to see a roll-up of our day to day operations. This has saves months of collective time that the organization can spend growing the business vs. preparing a slide deck. It takes some management from the CEO to handle Board expectations, and there are occasional one-off projects, but it's turned Board meetings into a much more productive use of time for everyone!
J.T. Allen, myFootpath
Customer generated blog posts. Writing content is hard and time consuming to do in house. We started offering customers gift cards to write guest blog product reviews for us. This is SEO gold, great content for our blog and drives connection and retention with customers. Lots of wins and was easy to implement with some post-purchase email automation.
Jeff Cayley, Worldwide Cyclery
One of the most effective ways I started PaperStreet was email harvesting and writing a killer first newsletter. This will probably date me, but in 2001, I wrote an article on "Top 10 Horrors of Web Design" and released it around Halloween. It lampooned various bad tactics that law firms used for their websites. We had an email list of about 10,000 and blasted it to those attorneys who would be interested in reading about bad web design. At that time, there was a lot of bad lawyer sites (actually there are still a lot of bad lawyers sites).
You can't really do these specific tactics today because of spam laws and email blocking, but back then it was effective. We received inquiries and signed projects that launched the business. The key was great content, written in a semi-funny, but helpful manner. Good content always wins.
Peter T. Boyd, Esq. PaperStreet
For us, monthly meetups have been an awesome opportunity to grow our business.
Once a month, we schedule an event through Meetup.com about a topic related to our business. We bring in an expert to talk to us about that topic and we provide food, which is a small investment compared to what we get from the events.
Without a doubt, it has been the most cost effective solution for us in terms of talent recruitment, local marketing, and employee development.
Resumes are great, but they can only go so far. Meeting people organically is not only a much better system, but it also allows us to grow our local team, and get the word out locally about who we are and what we do.
Shawn Rubel, Eezy
Turning every client into an affiliate has been a game changer for us. Admittedly we didn't create this idea (Dropbox and others perfected it and "referral programs" have been around forever) but since our launch in 2001 we've always paid our existing clients for referrals and this year we formalized the program by automatically generating a unique URL and referral code that they can give to anyone or post on Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Now, our clients can simply give friends and family a URL or a code and they'll earn cash for each order submitted to us. All their referrals are tracked in their account and we pay out referrals monthly. So, in essence, we turned every client into an affiliate and referral partner and this has generated a lot of growth for us.
Matt Knee, MyNewCompany