As Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, often says, in the early days of a startup, you should deliberately take action to grow your business that doesn’t scale. Why?
Because never again will you have the opportunity to engage with your customers on a 1:1 basis than in the early days.
The classic example is in the struggling, early days of Airbnb when Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia were having lunch with their mentor, Paul Graham, and he asked “where are your customers right now?”
“Mmm, New York City we have a handful of our first hosts,” they responded.
Upon which Paul Graham responded tersely, “So why are you here in San Francisco? Go to New York and talk to them, learn from them about their experience with your service.”
Within 24 hours, Brian & Joe were on a plane to NYC, knocking on their customers doors, offering to provide professional photography as a friendly ploy to garner insights about their experiences thus far.
These insights, become hospitality gold for them.
The same should apply to you and your company. Take some massive action, on a 1:1 scale and see what happens.
Here are some creative yet effective tactics to grow your customer base in a non-scalable, yet low-cost and personal fashion.
#1: Have Promo Links on Your Business Card
Provide great value without asking for anything in return.
Whether that’s a discount code, white paper, sample pack, or 30-day trial period, create a monthly “batch” of business cards and pick an incentive to market on the card.
3 hours of work and a $20-$40 monthly business card expense could pay back $100-$1000+ in new business, so don’t even bother thinking “these aren’t worth it.” MAKE them worth it!
#2: Content Market Yourself
Taking the “providing value 1st” mentality a step further, commit to publishing content every other day for 3-6 months.
This has dual benefit: not only does it 1) establish you as a thought leader in your space, but 2) it’s a powerful brand awareness play that let’s people & the universe know what your offering.
#3: Become a Monthly Podcast Guest
Reach out to 3 relevant podcasts every month and ask to be a guest, pitching your expertise and the value you could bring to their visitors.
If you have a website or published content in the past, link to that in your email signature of the body of the email (credit: Noah Kagan).
Within a year, you could reach 100,000+ unique people who had never heard of you before.
#4: Build a Messenger List
Build a list of Messenger subscribers that you can market to.
Similar to an email list, you can create autoresponder sequences and engage with them at scale (releasing new blog articles, new features, services, or press releases to them exclusively).
Not many companies are doing this so the market is much less crowded and thus, less noise and a higher likelihood of reaching your customers.
#5: Send a Prospect Food Delivery
Stick with me here: if you’re selling your services or higher ticket items and you have a prospect’s work address (let’s be honest, it’s not hard to figure this out on the Internet), consider sending them ice cream, coffee, or even a meal through UberEATs or Caviar.
Include a note (or a message with the delivery driver) mentioning who you are, thanks for considering becoming a customer, or that you simply wanted to provide a treat from a hard day’s work (credit: Marketing Strategies Podcast)
#6: Honorable Mentions
- Rent out a parking spot in a high-traffic area and do a pop-up shop
- Carve out 1 day or 1 hour to provide free consulting (via Twitter, Facebook Live, or Reddit) (credit David Spark)
- Launch a mobile hotspot and advertise your business (credit David Spark)
The beauty of all of these ideas is that you blend customer experience with marketing, killing 2 birds with one stone.
Do you have any unique, non-scalable ways to market yourself? Share them down below.