You’ve got a great idea, and you’re ready to roll. However, you are faced with problem #1 – getting customers. When you are starting up, cash is tight and you want to do everything in your power to preserve cash flow. That means looking for some more creative ways to get the word out about your new venture. Luckily, there are a few tactics that you can use to help you do just that. Here are five that you can start using right now:
1. Work with other local companies.
You’ll often find that the people closest to you are willing to provide the most help. When it comes to helping you get your start, reach out to local companies and bloggers and see if they are willing to help spread your message. If the company has a blog, make an effort to participate in their conversations online as well.
2. Take introductory calls with PR and marketing companies.
You can get a lot of advice from a free introductory call, especially if you reach out to a few companies. Ask they what they think you should be doing and how they would help you. While you may not be able to afford to hire anyone now, you can use the information they’ve given as a test for a future decision.
3. Sell your startup story.
One of the biggest issues facing startups is getting the word out about their new product or service. Initially, you can get a fair amount of free press just by sharing your startup story with the media (especially local or trade-related media). Start by crafting your story. Focus on the inspiration behind your business and why you personally decided to start it. Then create a list of publications you’d like to target, and share your story.
4. Find and cultivate brand ambassadors.
At the beginning of your business life cycle, your first customers are likely to be your biggest supporters. This can generate a vast amount of word of mouth marketing. When you first start out, you are in unique position to cultivate this. Since your customer base will be small at first, you have the opportunity to offer that something extra. You can personally respond to everyone who purchases something from you. You can offer over the top customer service. Give the people who took the initial plunge to support you everything and they will help grow your business exponentially.
5. Use social media.
While you may not want to create social media accounts for your business just yet, you should definitely be using social media to help generate buzz about what you are doing. Luckily, you can do that with your own personal accounts. Use them to follow related publications and their writers and find ways to join their conversations. Talk about your new venture and the story behind it. Become the go-to expert for your industry by offering value with your social media efforts. You may be surprised at some of the connections you are able to create with this tactic.
Bonus Tip: Always test first.
Don’t make the mistake of plunking down dollars for services or goods you can get cheaper. When you are in startup mode, everything should be treated like an experiment. Instead of paying for a needed service, see if you can exchange services first. This tip is practical from a financial standpoint as well.
Don’t pay for office furniture you can rent. Don’t have an office, if you can feasibly work out of your home. In fact, don’t do anything if there is an equal, cheaper solution. For instance, if you do need an office, you might be able to get a few months free rent just by asking. You might need people to work for you, but you can save a lot initially by taking people on as contractors instead of as employees.