When entrepreneurs are first starting out, they usually are not thinking of “rocking the boat” when it comes to marketing. Yet a very creative promotion can work wonders for a new business, generating a positive buzz that will get it noticed.
Q: What is one out-of-the-box promotion that worked wonders for your fledgling business?
1. Speed dating with potential customers
I would set up in a WeWork conference room for a day and let people book 20 to 30 minute time slots with me. Founders would come in for free and get growth advice from our growth team (me) on how to scale their business. My main goal was to get out of the office and talk to potential customers. This method doesn’t scale, but by doing it we formed some great relationships with people. —Jim Huffman, GrowthHit
2. Performance guarantees
When we first started out, a great way to get our foot in the door was to offer various performance guarantees that we felt we could, and should, be able to meet or exceed. This de-risked the choice for our clients, and it’s something we still offer to ensure our clients meet their demand generation targets. —Brandon Pindulic, OpGen Media
3. Get a little outrageous
We made a list of 50 of our perfect target clients. We then worked out a deal with a local pizza place to deliver free pizza to all of them. Out of each pizza, we had the shop remove one slice and replace it with a small printed graphic that was in the shape of a slice. It said: “Looking to grow your company? We are the missing piece. Give us a call.” —Frank Bravata, Marketing Rebellion
4. Radio interviews
By giving radio interviews, you get exposure, and potential customers get to know you and will remember you. Contact radio stations to promote your business and let them know you have expertise in a particular area and are available to provide a local angle whenever necessary. This is something I personally did in the early stages of Aligned Signs. It is still a good practice for free publicity. —Jessica Baker, Aligned Signs
5. Public speaking
One of the best lead generation methods is public speaking—it’s inexpensive and very effective! Sharing knowledge is a great way to provide value and position yourself as an expert. Every time I present, I have multiple people approach me afterward who are interested in learning more about my services. We’ve closed many deals this way. —Zack Hanebrink, HookLead
6. Alignment with trade associations
One of the best things we did was to strategically align ourselves with several respected trade associations by offering our services in exchange for being considered their marketing partner. By first proving our worth, we built a strong endorsement from them to their respected members within the organization. That opened the door to high-quality companies looking for a vetted marketing partner. Remember, most associations are non-profits that have limited resources but do great things for their communities, so they are always interested in expert help. —Matt Barden, Industrial Marketing
7. Third-party guest posting
In the world of digital marketing, this is nothing new. But for other businesses that aren’t so content-centered, the last thing they want to think about for a quick promotion is creating content for relevant websites or blogs within their industry. Start with the most influential sites and pitch blog ideas to them that discuss unique solutions to their readers’ problems, while not being self-promoting. —Ron Lieback, ContentMender
8. Tell your story
If people don’t know you’re up and running, they can’t hire you. Get the word out to your entire network, however is best for you to communicate (email, social media, in person, phone, mail, etc.). When you’re first starting out, you have the novelty of newness that people will pay attention to. Tell your story about who you are serving, what problems you solve, and why you decided to start. —Todd Giannattasio, Tresnic Media
9. Be very specific
Be laser specific and identify your most ideal 100 clients. Think of the companies or people you’d love to work with most and to whom you can provide great value, too. From there, I’d build a very specific outbound campaign to reach them, demonstrate value, and have a call to action to hop on the phone. Before this CTA, I’d work hard to establish rapport and trust. Think in terms of “What makes me different and how can I give before getting?” This campaign might look like: Email 1, Mail 1, Call 1, Email 2, Contact Us form, etc. —Zach Burkes, Predictable Profits
10. Offer add-ons
Since we sell travel experiences, we offered promotions of free side trips, tours, and adventures to incentivize customers to take action there and then, rather than get lost among our competitors. We still do this to this day. As it’s a promotion of a product within the same space as us, we get industry rates and we can find “add-ons” that sound interesting and are cool that don’t necessarily cost as much as they sound. We found this makes a big difference to customers who are often seeking more and more value for their money. This is something many companies and industries could do with partners they already work with: Buy X today and get a free Y. —Jürgen Himmelmann, The Global Work & Travel Co.