Wouldn’t it be great if all we had to do in order to grow our business was to purchase some advertisements using our limitless finances that were guaranteed to generate legitimate sales?
Unfortunately, many believe there is legitimacy behind this approach and if you do not have the finances to afford advertising, that you are immediately at a disadvantage.
The truth is, paid advertising can be extremely difficult and requires an extraordinary threshold of an investment before one could potentially see a return. There are a variety of means that entrepreneurs, like you, can levy to build your brand awareness without breaking your budget in the process.
But first, it is important to understand why advertising has become so difficult. Consumers have become increasingly adept at tuning out advertisements. We swipe away, mute, unfollow, change channels and even block out the marketing messages we are exposed to.
It is estimated that we are exposed to upwards of 10,000 advertisements and marketing messages every single day. It would take a significant investment to attempt to stand out in that crowded marketplace.
Early in my career, I did not have the finances to even consider advertising, which meant I had to get a lot more resourceful about my marketing and brand awareness strategies. My approach to brand awareness can be summarized into three points: Be Seen, Be Heard, Be Read.
In order to grow the imprint and impact of my brand on my target audience I knew I needed to have my brand experienced in a variety of means that did not just blatantly request that I be hired. Instead, I wanted to ensure my outbound marketing added some value to the lives of those I was trying to reach.
What follows are a variety of tactics you can customize and experiment with in your own marketing strategy.
1. Earned Media Features
This is a phenomenal way to position yourself as a subject matter expert, validate your brand’s credibility as well as generate leads for your business. These can include, but are not limited to, appearing on your local news, podcast guest segments, appearing in local or national print media as well as online publication features. As these features are earned, they are not paid so there is no cost involved outside of time pitching yourself and your topic ideas to various media outlets.
2. Industry Collaborations
Consider partnering with another professional within your industry that could provide a complementary service to yours. For example, a nutritionist partnering with a personal trainer. You could promote one another’s business, do co-lives together on social media to promote one another’s brand. If you picked a new person every week for two months, that would provide you the opportunity to get in front of the audiences of 8 colleagues.
3. Word of Mouth/Affiliates
You could incentivize your current clients to bring in additional leads. This could include anything from prizes, free branded swag or even cash rewards. At one of my live events, we paid cash for any referral our audience brought in. That day we handed out envelopes filled with hundreds of dollars in cash, but actually net us thousands in return.
4. Active Community Engagement
You should seek to entrench yourself within your industry and within your community. What events, meet-ups, social groups exist within your niche? Don’t just become a member, become an active participant.
5. Create Binge-Worthy Content
Turn your social media channels, and your website if you have one, into a platform that allows your audience to binge your content. Your content marketing plan should be educational, inspirational or entertaining (or a combination of those). For example, if a photographer were to find my social media page they would find lots of tutorials on lighting and photography that they could binge. It is a great way to provide value to your audience and honor our desire to consume lots of content in a short amount of time.
6. Online Reviews
This is a fantastic tool for businesses as your consumers are doing a lot of the marketing for you. Using tools, such as Google My Business, you can encourage your clients to leave reviews and comments on their experience. This can prove to generate a substantial amount of SEO leads.
7. Branded Swag
Although there is a cost involved with created branded swag, it can be done cost effectively. What type of swag would your audience not only want, but regularly use? My team has had lots of success with branded tank tops, hoodies, journals and water bottles. Even when I look at my own water bottle, it is covered with stickers of companies I myself have hired.
8. Shareable Content
This can mean a few things. If you create content on your social media channels that has a tremendous amount of value (education, entertainment or inspiration) you may find your audience sharing it and thus marketing you to their respective audiences. That is why I’ve found such benefit in having my own podcast. It gets shared constantly.
Another opportunity to create sharable content is to provide your current customers with content and instructions on how to post that content. For example, at one of our events, when someone purchased a ticket, they immediately received social media graphics that they could share to let others know they were attending our event. We incentivized this further by offering a prize to several who posted these graphics to their feeds.
That is one example of many of how you can customize, combine, mix and match these ideas into your own marketing campaigns.
Ultimately, just because you might have the budget to run advertisements, does not mean you have to in order to build the brand awareness that generates qualified business leads.