The only way you’re going to grow your startup is to get new customers. That’s true for any business, but it’s something some business founders struggle with. You sometimes go into business with a great idea that you know will help people, but when it comes to finding those people it becomes difficult. Some have the gift of selling and others have to work on it especially when it comes to getting rejected and even told that you’re annoying and out of line with your sales efforts.
Over the years I’ve tried to get better at it. I’m still working on it, but I thought I’d share some of the things that seem to work really well to promote your startup business without being too annoying. Some of these are things I’ve tried and a few are things I’ve observed that others have done that have interested me and have definitely not annoyed me.
I would say that nearly all businesses can partner with complementary businesses to help each other grow. When you’re the new guy on the block you’ll have to bring something really good to the table to get a chance to work with someone in the big leagues. But it can be done. You have to prove to your potential partner that you’re going to add value to what they’re selling and that you’ll add money to their bank account.
Here’s a recent example with Microsoft and Go Daddy. I would say that it’s probably bigger for Go Daddy to get access to Microsoft, their products and their customers, but it’s big for both companies. Part of the reason Microsoft has had so much success if strategic partnerships. Back in the ’90s they partnered with what seemed like every computer maker. If you’re in the software business, figure out how to get your product tied-in with someone that’s established and you could be on your way.
2. Charity Events
Some might see this as a shady way to grow your business, but many businesses have charity and giving back built-in to their business model. It’s in their mission to give back to the community to causes they care about. That’s admirable and there is nothing wrong with it.
The benefit on the business side is that by working with a charity, you’ll get access to their audience and it’s a way for you to get exposure and to grow your business. Plus it builds your reputation in a good way for being part of something bigger than yourself. People like giving back and you can be there when they’re involved with charity events. Those people also expect businesses to be involved. There’s nothing annoying about a business helping out at a charity event.
3. Interviews And Guest Content
One of the great ways to grow your brand is to give interviews and to provide guest content. Growing a business is like growing a music career. You start out with zero fans (customers) and you have to get in front of fans as an opportunity to win them over. In the online world that means doing interviews and guest content with people and websites that have established fans or audiences.
This is what guest writing was really all about. Some took advantage of the SEO benefits, but on a business level it’s really about getting exposure to an audience to grow your own profile. If nobody knows about you then you’re never going to make a sale.
You can buy advertising to get exposure to audiences and it can be effective, but it can also be annoying and very expensive. Guest content, on the other hand, is something the audience expects. They’re looking for interviews, quotes, guides and posts.
This one is close to my heart and because I didn’t want to be too promotional I thought I’d include it, but include it last on the list. I don’t think we would have any clients at GBW if we didn’t have a blog. It’s a little odd because blogging is what we sell, but nearly all of our clients come to us as a result of our blog in some way. Some clients will read a post that they found on search or social. They might not contact us right then, but we’re in their mind and when they’re ready they reach out.
Blogging also helps us get referrals. Our current clients refer us to their colleagues and people that read the GBW Blog might hear one of their peers talk about a blogging need and tell them to reach out to us. And the great thing is we just focus on answering common questions and helping people with our blog and they can choose to read it or not. We do promote the posts in various ways, but it’s pretty unobtrusive.
You can do sales without being annoying. But I think it’s good to be a little annoying. I’ve learned myself that it really bothers me more when I feel like I’m being annoying. I worry how the other person feels and really they might brush me off and never think about me again. Maybe I just caught them at the wrong time.
Hearing “no” doesn’t have to mean the end of the relationship. Keep working at it and slowly you’ll build something special with your business.