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30 Ways To Grow Your Business

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Growing your business certainly comes with its fair share of challenges.

Whether you're a solo founder, have a few employees or a large team - checking things off the list can be daunting.

After interviewing 1000+ successful founders, we've collected the data and identified 30 ways to help your business gain more exposure and scale quickly and efficiently.

And of course, with these tactics, we show you real-world examples of founders who have tried these strategies.

Here's the list:

Grow your Email List

Email marketing is an effective way of communicating with your customers - whether you're introducing new products, product sales or simply just have an announcement to make.

You may want to consider offering content upgrades and giveaways to ensure you are consistently updating your email list and keeping your customers engaged.

The more engaged email subscribers, the more customers!

There are hundreds of tools out there for email marketing. Pricing depends on how many email subscribers you have - so you may want to consider starting small at first.

Here are a few common tools:

Matt Rudntsky, founder of Platypus Publishing discusses lessons learned and the importance of growing your email list from day 1:

"But build your email list from Day 1. Nothing beats a direct line to your ideal customer’s inbox, that they gave you permission to use"

Give them free content from the outset -- so when you eventually ask for a sale, they’ll be happy to listen. 90% free content, at least. Then, be unafraid to sell the other 10% of the time.

If you’re trying to grow your email list, make sure you’re on dozens of email lists yourself. Think a list is a good fit for you? Reply to their email, thank them for their content -- and link to something of your own. Connect. Reach out to them separately and quickly explain a win-win partnership. What can you offer their audience that they can’t? Teach it to them for free. If you have a similar number of subscribers, offer a “lead magnet swap.” This strategy has led to 90% of my email list growth (that 839 number includes duplicates -- but I gained over 400 subscribers on that one partnership).

My biggest mistake was waiting to build my email list. I should’ve done it five years ago. Don’t be like me. Your early profits will come from doing things that don’t scale … but your long-term profits will come from the things that do scale. Ever since I focused on creating win-win partnerships with other entrepreneurs, my email list has skyrocketed and is on track to grow exponentially (I’ve already got multiple partnerships lined up for 2020).

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Matt Rudntsky, on starting Platypus Publishing ($5,500 revenue/mo) full story

Improve Your SEO

In order to generate leads, your customers need a way to find you first. 91% of online experiences begin with a search on google, so it's important your website is clearly visible to customers searching for your products and services.

There are tons of quick and easy ways you can up your game when it comes to SEO.

How?

  • Discover search trends with Google Keyword Planner
  • Update your website often (make sure your content is relevant and recent)
  • Make sure images and other content on your website are loading quickly
  • Start blogging!

David Pagotto, founder of SixGun simplifies SEO and gives us a step by step guide on the fundamentals:

There are several important tools you can use to research and help choose your keywords.

Google Ads Keyword Planner

Within Google Ads, the Keyword Planner tool is invaluable for discovering search trends. Enter a word and the tool will generate a list of related words and phrases. It allows you to look at where your niche lies and which keywords can realistically be targeted when balancing search volume and competition.

Google Search Console

This is another important tool for determining your keywords and phrases. If your website has been up and running for a while, Google Search Console will show you a breakdown of what phrases are making it appear in search results. It lists both impressions and clicks, which means you can see the words that are actually generating traffic.

Ahrefs / SEMRush

As with traditional marketing principles, understanding your competitors is vital to successful SEO performance. Ahrefs and SEMRush are paid tools that allow you (amongst their other useful functions) to examine the results of your competitors’ websites. They show you the keywords your competitors rank for and the estimated amount of traffic they receive, and give you the data to assess your website in comparison so you can adjust and improve.

Balancing Competition with Search Volume

It doesn’t matter if you rank at the top of a page for a certain phrase if no one searches for it – you won’t generate any traffic. Likewise, trying to rank for phrases that other big, established websites already rank for is time and resources better spent elsewhere. For example, trying to rank for the keyword “Home Loan” is very difficult.

Generally, the best way to assess competition is to review the websites that are listed on the first page of Google for your desired keyword, particularly the number and quality of referring domains those websites have – both to the root URL and to the page itself. Most keyword competition tools use a variation of this method for their calculations.

Allocating Keywords

After you have selected your keywords, you need to allocate them to specific pages of your website. Keywords work best when spread across individual target pages. For example, this could be the allocation for a photographer based in Melbourne, Australia.

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Target pages are used to separate and concentrate the power of keywords and phrases, allowing you to answer each specific search query without attempting to answer every search query at once. Additionally, they mean that visitors will see the phrase they searched for on your page, making them confident your page will answer their question.

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David Pagotto, on starting Six Gun full story

Master Social Media

It's obvious how important and relevant social media is in our business and personal lives, so why not leverage the tool and become an expert?

Every platform is unique in its own way, so you may want to consider starting with one platform (maybe it's Facebook or Instagram) and learn everything there is to know, then move on to the next one.

Here are some quick and easy tips you can implement today at no cost:

  • Poll your audience on social media and find out what they want more of (ie. more videos, more giveaways, more tips/tricks in the space etc). This is the best way to get to know your audience.
  • Engage with your audience - like and comment on their posts, give your customers a follow back, acknowledge their comments on your post etc.
  • Observe your competition - see what others are doing in your space. Check out what type of content their audience seems to be enjoying

Attend a Tradeshow

Having an online presence is important, but showing face will always remain one of the most effective strategies for growing your business.

As traditional as it may be, tradeshows and conferences are a great way to get your product in front of your customers.

It all comes down to basic human interaction - prospects are much more likely to invest in your product if they've created some sort of relationship with you.

Alex Bricker, founder of ESL With Purpose discusses how attending conferences has and will continue to be a key strategy for acquiring new customers:

"Meeting people in person at conferences yields results. It provides new networking opportunities where I can demonstrate the Phrase It™ brand to instructors in real life."

I attended an educator conference which resulted in $1300 in sales in just 2 days. I realized attending a conference like this in the future will continue to yield more results. I grew my most interested email sign-ups and subscribers while at the conference too.

Conferences provide opportunities for me to teach workshops and help educators understand how Phrase It™ can be used in practical and tangible ways. It is easier to go through Q&A sessions on the spot.

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Alex Bricker, on starting ESL With Purpose ($1,000 revenue/mo) full story

Attend Networking Events

As an entrepreneur, creating connections and putting your brand out there is critical to the success of your business. Networking events are a great way to do this.

At the very least, you'll meet like-minded people, exchange a business idea or two, and leave knowing you brought your brand some exposure.

Or, you'll leave with a once in a lifetime opportunity or connection that could take your business to the next level.

Either scenario is a win-win, so you may want to consider putting a few events on your calendar every month and just getting out there.

Scott Bishop, founder of Up and Social provides us with a great example of how attending networking events gave him the opportunity to meet entrepreneurs and ultimately get referrals

Attending networking events and the chamber of commerce meetings was a huge factor in meeting potential clients. It didn’t all happen at once though. It took some time to cultivate these relationships with prospects I met at networking events. We’re talking anywhere from six months to a year.

What I learned from that experience is that the people you meet at networking events aren’t really prospects. They are associates who can become friends and eventually will play a key role in winning high-quality clients for your business.

Some of them became clients, but mostly my relationships with them afforded me professional introductions and business referrals.

Since launching Up And Social, we’ve seen the most success in B2B networking. That includes attending local networking events, personally reaching out to businesses that look like they might need to upgrade their websites, and providing valuable content and education to entrepreneurs and small business executives.

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Scott Bishop, on starting Up And Social ($20,000 revenue/mo) full story

Create Interesting Video Content

We live in a very visual world, and now more than ever, businesses are realizing the impact videos can have on their audience.

Videos are a great way to capture your customer's attention and increase your exposure.

According to G2 Crowd, social video generates 1200% more shares than text and image content combined.

Improve Your Customer Service

Great customer service is something that you may want to consider prioritizing from day one.

Support for your customers will not only retain existing ones but will also directly impact future sales.

Think about it - when you think of good customer service, which businesses immediately pops up in your mind?

I think we can all agree on a few, and easily identify what sets them apart from their competition:

  • Southwest - flexible cancellation terms and friendly staff
  • Apple - fantastic experts that can fix any technical issue
  • Trader Joes - joyful employees...need I say more?

We interviewed Travis Richardson, founder of Impressions Agency and he stated that building long term relationships with clients is hands-down the most effective way to attract and retain customers:

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

Hands-down our customer service. Sure everyone says this but what sets us apart is our ability to wear our hearts on our sleeves and actually care for our clients. Part of our mission is to build long-term relationships and to truly be effective in this area it requires us to be flexible and to sometimes lose profit. At the end of the day, we know that life happens. It happens for us and our clients.

When a customer is hurting, we are hurting. A couple of examples include: for seasonal clients we adjust budget to work with them during their low season, when another client was in the hospital we gifted them marketing at no cost, this also means that our support manager may spend an hour on the phone with a client before they even talk about support issues. When I’m in a meeting, if someone wants to know what sets us apart, I send them to our clients to ask them.

In the beginning, what worked for us to attract customers was our pricing model. We could keep our costs lower than our competitors due to our mobility and this gave us an edge. We have niche our company to target small to midsize* local* businesses. If you are looking for customers within a specific radius of your brick and mortar with our pricing and the results we can provide it is hard for these types of businesses to say no to us. This has helped us identify who our ideal customers are and also helps us attract new clientele.

how-we-started-a-100k-month-marketing-agency-during-our-honeymoon-in-costa-rica

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Travis Richardson, on starting Impressions Agency ($100,000 revenue/mo) full story

Optimize Conversion Rates

Optimizing conversion rates is essential to growing your business and increasing sales.

What this basically does is enable your customers to take a certain action once they land on your website.

There are several different ways of doing this. Here are a few easy ones you can implement today:

  • Make sure you have a clear pricing page with different pricing tiers so that your customers have options
  • Make sure you have a blog with clear CTAs as this can convert readers into customers quickly
  • Make sure you have a landing page and include on there whatever action you'd like your viewers to take (ie. email subscribe, sign up for an event etc).

One great example of this is when Dylan Jacob, founder of Brumate used a spin wheel on his website in exchange for emails. Check out the story below:

Once we drive customers to our site, we focus on securing their email

We use Spin-a-Sale for this (you spin a wheel for a discount code in exchange for subscribing to our email list). This has been the best email-collecting tool we have found because the customer truly feels like they won a prize rather than just a coupon code.

Even if a customer doesn’t convert right away, if we have their email we have a 19% chance of converting them into a future customer whether that is through future promotions, new releases, or simply just sending an email at the right time for a purchase to finally make sense for them. We also have a return customer rate of over 14%, so one out of every 6 people we convert will end up buying from us again with an average order value of over $60.00.

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Dylan Jacob, on starting BrüMate ($1,100,000 revenue/mo) full story

Learn to Delegate

Delegation is critically important to growing your business and is one of the most powerful tools a business leader can have.

Especially with small businesses, it's second nature to wear a ton of different hats and feel like you need to do everything yourself, or else it won't be done right.

By adjusting this mentality and delegating your tasks to other team members or outsourcing platforms, this may create more time to get the critically important stuff done.

To successfully delegate and ensure expectations are met, you may want to consider a few things first:

  • Articulate your desired needs and outcome, or else your task most likely won't be done right. Loom is a great platform for this. You can record an educational video that your team member can always go back and refer to.
  • Provide a timeline/deadline
  • Communicate the importance of the task to your team member
  • Understand who's completing the task, and what their workload currently is

Valerio Celetti, founder of Loop learned to delegate, which led him to focus on the important stuff for his business:

"During Loop’s first year, we worked too much and delegated too little. We were both dangerously close to a burnout. Things started to go better when we finally decided to only focus on key activities."

We built a company as a team for two reasons. We felt that working alone was limiting us in terms of potential revenues (our fiscal plans forced us to keep our individual yearly revenues under a certain threshold to have taxation benefits initially). We also felt that while our focus and specialization were somehow useful initially, it proved to be somehow limited in a scale-up phase. Potential customers wanted more services and a more structured interlocutor in some cases - the bigger the prospect the higher the project complexity in most cases.

Our personal values are concreteness, respect, responsibility. It may sound trivial, but we’re really happy to wake up every morning and turn on our computers while sipping a good coffee. We truly hope this is the same for our partners!

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Valerio Celletti, on starting Loop ($35,000 revenue/mo) full story

Automate Systems

Automation tools are one of the most effective ways to increase productivity and scale your business.

Think about all the redundant tasks you complete in a day. This can be anything from:

  • Emails
  • Following up with customers
  • Posting on social media
  • Paying bills/collecting payment

... that's a lot of time, and that time could be spent on other aspects of growing your business.

One example of a great "all in one platform" for automation is Hubspot. Their platform can automate pretty much anything from task reminders to workflows to social media posts.

Find Ways to Retain Customers

Retaining customers is one of the most effective ways to grow your business.

Often times, it's easy to find yourself focusing on generating new customers, vs retaining your current ones.

Look at it this way - you are 60-70% more likely to sell a new product to an existing customer, than you are a new customer.

That's not to say that finding new customers and revenue streams is not important, however, the easiest (and most inexpensive) source of new revenue is right there in front of you.

Ryan Milton, founder of TeamFFLEX discusses the importance of bringing customers back, and is constantly finding creative ways to prove value to those customers:

I can consistently bring customers back and continue to gather new clients by staying on top of my content creation. I am literally spending time every single day to create content that provides value to my audience. I do daily podcasts, YouTubes every week, 6 posts on Instagram per day and 1-2 on other platforms. The idea is always to provide as much value as I can. Give back as much as I can and continue to stay ahead of the game by constantly providing new and noteworthy content.

Being a fitness coach, a lot of people have all types of fitness questions and typically if you want help with anyone you have to pay for it first. For me to edge out the competition I decided I would offer far higher quality service and literally give away what other coaches charge for. That enables me to get great engagement and really increased my following, shares and etc. Providing valuable content that would help people that don’t even pay me has enabled me to scale far above the coaches that pinch pennies trying to charge for every little thing.

how-i-started-a-48k-month-business-with-an-online-fitness-training-service

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Ryan Milton, on starting TeamFFLEX ($48,000 revenue/mo) full story

Get More Press

Getting your business recognized in an article or news outlet could really take you to the next level in terms of growing your business.

The great part about getting press is the ripple effect that tends to happen.

For example, if you get interviewed by LA times, Buzzfeed may want to recognize you as well in one of their articles, then you may get picked up by the local news channel...and so on.

Something to keep in mind is that the media is always looking for something to write about, so odds are, you're probably helping them more than they're helping you.

HARO known as "Help a Reporter Out" is a great place to get started.

Tanya Zhang, founder of Nimble Made lays out some tactical steps on how to get press when you're just starting out:

I prioritized securing press as one of our first efforts. With no experience in PR, I learned everything from this blog article by Jaclyn Fu, founder of Pepper Bra.

She lays out in really great tactical steps how to get press when you’ve never done it before. This was the only guide I followed and it helped me secure a number of publications in our first year of business. As she mentions, there’s prep involved: putting together a PR kit, researching publications that have featured competitors, and then setting up the right cadence for pitching and keeping track of pitches so you can follow up. I secured a number of placements whose audiences were of the Asian American demographic, namely Cold Tea Collective, Mochi Magazine, etc, which helped spread the word of our brand and got the attention of larger outlets like Huffington Post. Local outlets were very receptive to my pitch–I secured a Times of San Diego feature since I went to university in San Diego. I also got an article on the front page of my local high school city newspaper.

how-we-started-a-5k-month-actually-slim-dress-shirts-brand UCSD Grad Launches Clothing Line Tailored for ‘Slim-Fit’ Asian Men

how-we-started-a-5k-month-actually-slim-dress-shirts-brand This Asian American Brand Created A Shirt That Actually Fits Slim Men

how-we-started-a-5k-month-actually-slim-dress-shirts-brand Cold Tea Collective

I’m also in a number of Facebook groups created for entrepreneurs, Asian creatives, female founders, and more where reporters or journalists will post and look for stories. I landed MONEY Magazine by replying to a video editor who was looking for more AAPI narratives to feature. Press has worked very well since it’s free (most of the time) but it does take sweat equity, organization, and persistence.

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Tanya Zhang, on starting Nimble Made ($5,000 revenue/mo) full story

Boost Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

SEM is a form of paid marketing, and when implemented properly, it can be a very effective way to grow your business.

We want to quickly highlight the difference between SEO and SEM:

SEM refers to businesses paying per click Google to show their ads in the results, whereas with SEO, businesses do not pay google and instead, results show up based on relevant content for a given keyword.

When getting started, you'll want to consider identifying which keywords to use. WordStreams Keyword Tool is a great tool for this.

Then, simply search for a keyword that is relevant to your business and suggestions/valuable information will populate for you.

Jay Vasantharajah, co-founder of ClientFlo walks us through how to get started with SEM and GoogleAdwords:

"The best way to learn is honestly through experience. Create a campaign, set out a test budget, optimize, and learn the basic as you go."

There are tons of resources out there to help you learn how to effectively manage campaigns.

There are also a couple of tools that are helpful like SEMRush and Wordstream. But over the years, Google started to incorporate new features that have made many of these 3rd party tools obsolete. I myself have developed proprietary tools I used to create and manage campaigns, but they have become obsolete with new features Google has added.

Definitely become familiar with the Google Keyword Planner, really powerful tool if you know how to use it properly. It will help you discover keywords worth bidding on, different trends and insights.

As mentioned earlier, users having familiarity with your brand/company plays a huge role. For this reason I would recommend starting with a re-targetting campaign as a first step.

Consider Adwords!

As I mentioned earlier, I believe that Google Ads is still an amazing advertising platform and almost any business can generate a positive ROI from it. I strongly encourage everyone to consider it in their marketing mix for 2019. Learn to use the Google Keyword tool, test, learn, and optimize constantly for killer results.

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Jay Vasantharajah, on starting PureFilters ($200,000 revenue/mo) full story

Partner with Other Brands

Partnering with other brands is a great way to attract new customers, reach new markets and become a more established business (regardless of what stage of the business you are in).

If you're considering partnering with another brand, you may want to ask yourself a few questions first:

  • Do our brands align together?
  • What are we hoping to achieve together, and how can each business benefit from each other?
  • What type of audience will we be tapping into and will this be beneficial for us?
  • Will this add value to my existing customers?

Anthony Chow, founder of Igloohome ($400K/month) discusses how building partnerships solidified their hospitality business:

Our partnerships with the big players in the hospitality industry have helped us penetrate the target market. We’re partners with Airbnb, Booking.com & BookingSync; on top of that, we’re working with many integration partners to help the brand scale. These partnerships come from everywhere. We’ve actively sourced for some, while others were introduced by personal networks and from our participation in several acceleration programs and winning awards.

We are listed on Host Assist on the Airbnb website globally, which means that hosts around the world are channeled to us as Airbnb recognizes that our products help their hosts manage their properties more easily.

We’re also Airbnb’s only technological partner in Asia Pacific. This partnership has opened doors for us, and we are now partners with other big players in the vacation rental industry such as HomeAway and Xiao Zhu in China.

igloohome

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Anthony Chow, on starting Igloohome ($400,000 revenue/mo) full story

Create a Referral Program

Referral programs are a highly effective marketing tool and a great way to grow your business.

Referral marketing is so powerful simply because people trust other people they have relationships with.

Once you have an established brand and you're able to tap into other sources such as partners, customers, and industry peers, there's a great opportunity to increase sales.

Here are some tips for creating a great referral program:

  • Identify your referral sources and make sure they have a relationship with your target audience.
  • Create an engaging program that motivates referrals (make sure there's something in it for everyone)!
  • Make sure sharing the program is easy and straightforward
  • Integrate with Social Media and ensure your program is being shared in the right places (where your target audience is)!

One example of an effective referral program is when Clifton Muckenfuss, founder of Carolina Exteriors launched a program that turned one customer into five:

We have a great marketing partner that has helped us launch a customer referral program - the “1 into 5” program - turning one customer into 5 is the mindset behind the program.

There’s a special gift a customer receives (homemade cookies) within 7 days of job completion and then a series of email and newsletter communications to drive referrals, online reviews, etc. We’ve been very fortunate in our lead gen efforts and currently invest less than 1% of topline revenues in true advertising “lead generation” tactics/platforms.

Focussing on the customer, I know that sounds basic, but our team does not look at a sale as a transaction but as a relationship. Shifting the focus from the “dollar being generated now” to one that will bring in multiple customers, therefore generating future revenue many times over.

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Clifton Muckenfuss, on starting Carolina Exteriors ($350,000 revenue/mo) full story

Plan a Publicity Stunt

Publicity stunts are generated by a certain campaign or promotion (initiated by you) and are intended to raise awareness for your business.

This could be in the form of TV, write-ups in local newspapers, mentions in magazines and of course social media.

Here are a few different ways you can grab the medias attention:

  • Do something entertaining that people want to read about
  • Engage in some friendly competition with another brand
  • Be a disruptive force in your industry to get some buzz (do something your competition is not doing)
  • Work with a big influencer or celebrity and have them promote your brand or attend one of your events

Chris Waters, founder of Constructed Adventures tells us about a friend posting his business idea on Reddit and how it went viral:

He told me this was a cool thing that people would pay for. He insisted that I start a business and he was going to build me a website. He said “What’s your business name?”

“uhhhh...Constructed Adventures?”

“Cool, let me see if the URL is available. Yep! Just bought it. Give me a day.”

The Reddit gifts adventure ended at this speakeasy bar where I met my giftee and his girlfriend. They were exhausted (In hindsight, I made the day WAY too long) but still blown away. Through our conversation I let him know I’m going to try to do this as a side business.

A day or two later he posted it to Reddit, it hit the front page, my business page got linked, and the business blew up. The next night, it was all over the local news and I got another huge spike in publicity. Here is the Imgur Album

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Chris waters, on starting Constructed Adventures ($5,000 revenue/mo) full story

Understand Paid Social Media vs Organic Social Media (and their benefits)

It's important to understand the difference between organic social media presence and paid social media advertising.

Organic Social Media

Spending time on increasing your organic social media presence is critical to the long term success of your business.

Organic growth comes from interacting/engaging with your audience. These people chose to follow you and expect to see content on their feeds.

Paid Social Media ads essentially means putting money behind sponsored messages and ads that will go beyond your followers reach.

Both strategies are effective, and while organic social media doesn't cost anything and has the ability to build your community and create engagement, *paid social ads can be a great way to *reinforce certain messages across a wide network.

William Forshaw, founder of Maxwell Scott Bags discusses his strategy as it relates to social media advertising:

However, there is still so much scope for growth in our existing markets. One avenue I’m quite excited to explore more in the upcoming months is paid social media.

"Here we are able to target customers on lifestyle and interests, as well as demographics such as age, gender, and location."

In the US, it is even possible to target customers based on income which creates a truly refined audience to be sending ads to. This way they certainly are as effective as possible.

One of my biggest pieces of advice for Facebook advertising is to use the Audience Insights tool as this will help you to find your target audience. You never quite know exactly what their other interests lie.

on-launching-our-new-women-s-handbag-collection Production image from Maxwell-Scott’s factory in Italy

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William Forshaw, on starting Maxwell Scott Bags Ltd ($300,000 revenue/mo) full story

Implement Unconventional PR

Implementing smaller & more unconventional PR is a great way to attract and retain new customers.

It's easy to focus on all of the digital tools we have at our disposal, that I think we tend to forget about the smaller, old fashioned things we can do that people truly appreciate.

One great example of "unconventional PR" is writing a handwritten note to your customers.

Brittney Torres, founder of Glace Cryotherapy ($35K/month) explains the power of a hand-written note to gain new customers:

However, with that said we hustled hard those first 5 months. We constantly reached out to people in the community who we thought would be interested in our services, delivered handwritten notes and chocolates to physical therapist and chiropractor offices inviting them in to try out our services reached out to the local high school and college.

We ended up with 50 members our first month and worked 8am-9pm to make sure our hours accommodated mostly everyone and to see what worked best for our new business model. On the weekends we took our modalities that were mobile out to different boutique fitness places (barre, spin, etc.) basically anyone who would let us and even if we just got one member out of it we saw that as time well spent.

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Brittney Scarlett-Torres, on starting Glace Cryotherapy ($35,000 revenue/mo) full story

Speak at a Conference

Speaking at a conference is a great way to build your brand and expand your network.

Here are some added perks:

  • Networking + making fruitful connections
  • You'll be seen as a prominent leader in your space
  • Meet potential clients
  • Great PR opportunity

Laura Elizabeth, founder of Client Portal ($7K/month) explains the importance of speaking at conferences, especially when you're just starting out:

Selling Client Portal to other freelancers came about from me deciding to build my personal brand with the goal of getting more clients. I did this by speaking at a lot of conferences about freelancing and design. At one conference in particular, I did a talk on how to work remotely with clients. I mentioned this little portal that I made for myself and suggested if the other attendees has ever faced the same problems as me, they could make one too.

But as it turned out, nobody wanted to spend the time making their own – they wanted to buy mine. When getting feedback on the talks, more than 50% of attendees said the most valuable part of the conference was, “Laura's client portal idea – it’s freakin’ genius!”

And for the rest of the weekend, I had people coming up to me saying, “Look, can I just buy this? This is exactly what I need. It solves a problem that I didn't even realize that I had. And now I need it!”

My launch went really well. The presales went well but then I had a bit of a blip. After the launch sales just dropped because I didn't have my own audience.

Since the pre orders were mostly from the audience of the conference I spoke at, I now needed to figure out how to sell Client Portal on my own. I wasn't getting any Google traffic. I didn't have a huge audience myself of people to sell to (at the time, I had just over 1,000 people on my email list).

how-i-built-a-7k-mo-wordpress-plugin-because-i-needed-the-product

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Laura Elizabeth, on starting Client Portal ($7,000 revenue/mo) full story

Diversify your Product

Adding new products to your business is a great way to expand into new markets and grow your business:

It's important to note that adding new products and diversifying may not be in the cards for you right this moment, and that's okay. You can always consider it down the road.

Here are some reasons you may want to considering adding/diversifying your product

  • Meeting the needs of your customers
  • Establish yourself as a top provider in your industry and stay ahead of the game with competition
  • Resistance to downturns/trends fading
  • Create new revenue streams

One great example is when Michele Morton, founder of Maxbit created a successful product and decided she wanted to experiment with two new products

This female-run company has grown from the first year to this third year in over $200,000 in sales and added two new products this year. All this from an idea because I kept saying, “There must be a better way!!”

We have expanded into Hammacher Schlemmer through The Grommet and more up and coming platforms for next year that will lead to exciting growth.

We love our local mom and pop stores and you will find The MaxBit Display scattered all over the US in stores. ACE Hardware picked The MaxBit for its National show in 2018 and several ACE stores throughout the US now carry the product line. In addition Forestry Suppliers, and A M Leonard customers keep coming back for more.

We expanded internationally into Canada and Australia. We are pleased to see people all over the planet enjoying digging in the dirt with The MaxBit. We launched two new products, The MaxBit 1 Gallon and 3 Gallon digger that is powered by a one-man auger. It is a big hit in Canada and making its way into the US markets.

As we have grown we have looked at options for growth and decided to pursue companies that would be interested in licensing The MaxBit product line. With more inventions in the back pocket, we need the freedom to explore and help with a company to expand. I think for some companies this is the threshold point. How do I manage the growth, do I want to manage it, grow with it, or give someone else the opportunity - responsibility?

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Michele Morgan Morton, on starting The Maxbit ($10,000 revenue/mo) full story

Build a Community

Building a community is a great way to grow your network and your business.

There are several different ways of building a community, one of the most effective (and simplest) ways is to build a facebook group

Setting up the group page takes less than 10 minutes, and we've outlined ways the top 5 ways to create an engaging and successful group:

  • Make the group exclusive. This may sound counter-intuitive, however, this ensures privacy and that the group will feel comfortable posting and engaging with members.
  • Try to be warm and welcoming. A great way to do this is by having a "Member Monday" where you welcome new members and ask them to introduce themselves in the group
  • Use polls/surveys. This is a great way to know your audience and see what people want more of in the group (more business tips, networking opportunities, etc).
  • Include influential people & conduct AMA's (ask me anything). This is a great way to get members engaged
  • Host an in-person event with members in the group. This will create stronger relationships and really build a community.

For example, Mike Doehla, founder of Stronger U, an online nutrition company noticed that his customers needed a little motivation and sense of community:

Most diets are lonely so we wanted to give support and a community. I think many people fail diets because there is no one to talk to and no accountability. You can by a book, or google a meal plan but who’s going to keep you on track? We will. The entire SU community. We give our members access for life to our Facebook community filled with people around the world who are looking out for everyone’s success.

Most diets make up arbitrary rules and we thought they just didn’t make sense. Meal timing, Cutting carbs, butter in coffee, sugar being the devil? Ehh no need to overthink that stuff. We’ll give you the science behind of what we do and show you what actually matters based on real research. Luckily we have a PhD at our disposal to educate our staff and members so everyone is getting the most up to date information out there.

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Mike Doehla, on starting Stronger U ($500,000 revenue/mo) full story

Coordinate Sales Calls

Sales calls are essentially one-on-one meetings with clients or partners. It's one of those strategies that have been around for years and is there to build and maintain relationships with customers.

This can be anything from dropping off cupcakes at your customer's office to meeting for coffee and catching up - the goal is simply to remain front of mind.

You may want to consider taking a few days each quarter to meet with your top customers and simply just thank them for their support - this can go a long way.

Get Exposure with Offline Ads

Offline ads are essentially meant to reach an audience off the internet, and can be very effective when looking for new customers, or remaining front of mind for current ones.

This can be anything from billboards to the radio, to even posting flyers in your area.

You may be thinking to yourself, is this even a valuable way to market in our world today?

As old-school as it may sound, these techniques are still valid, and if you're able to balance both online and offline marketing, this could have a big impact on your business.

One great example of this is when Sam Evans launched a junk removal company and posted flyers around his town:

"My flyers and free craigslist posts were really the reason I started to get business."

In my area, saying you are a Penn State student or graduate holds a lot of weight and people love to support a fellow Penn Stater. On these flyers and posts, I really honed in on the fact that I was a current PSU student home for summer vacation, looking for a way to make some extra money. The original flyer had a picture of a roommate of mine holding up a random couch that we found sitting in a field by campus.

When we first started we did not have a website, Facebook page, or Instagram account. We spread the word by taping flyers to mailboxes, free Craigslist posts, and sharing screenshots of our flyers in local Facebook groups which were our biggest source of customers.

It took us about a week to get our first customers and we were profitable by the end of month one in which we did about $2,000 in sales.

Our biggest successes from organic marketing have come from midnight bandit sign drops. Going out in the middle of the night allows us to put out 50-60 signs in high traffic areas in under three hours. We map out where to put them based on incomes in various local zip codes. Zip code incomes can be found through USPS Every Door Direct Mail tool. We’ve also been utilizing the Nextdoor app which is tremendous for home services. If you are recommended on that app, customers treat it like the bible. They will hire you blindly and agree to any price you say.

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Sam Evans, on starting You Call We Haul Junk Removal ($18,000 revenue/mo) full story

Launch a Webinar

Webinars are a great way to build your existing audience and create new customers.

Webinars can also help with promotions, establishing clout and credibility with customers and can help build your email list.

Webinars are a particularly effective marketing tool because they allow people from all over the world to come together and connect.

Here are some of the most popular platforms to host webinars:

Lars Helgeson, founder of GreenRope hosts four monthly webinars and believes they are the most effective strategy for retaining customers:

In terms of retention, our most effective strategies are the GreenRope blog, email marketing, webinars, and social media user groups. We use the GreenRope blog to share how-to’s and other important information about effective strategy both in business and using the software. We send out monthly newsletters that highlight new features, upcoming events, and webinars, and feature our newest blog articles.

We host four monthly webinars that cover both strategy and GreenRope features. Attendees can ask questions and actively engage with our support team. We also have a LinkedIn user group where users can connect with both the GreenRope team, other GreenRope users as well as our support staff to ask questions and learn more about the system and its features.

Our team grew slowly, but we have always been focused on providing the best customer service possible. We provide free videos, white papers, e-books, walk-throughs, cheat sheets, webinars, and more. If a more personal touch is needed, we offer free support by phone, email, live chat, web conference, and support ticket.

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Lars Helgeson, on starting GreenRope ($160,000 revenue/mo) full story

Franchise your Business

If you're looking for quick growth, franchising your business may be something you want to think about.

When you franchise your business, you are essentially leasing the rights of your business model, brand and operations to somebody else.

This may be a big step for you, so it's important to consider what this process looks like and if franchising is a good fit for your business.

Nick Amucen, founder of Bio-One ($1.2M/Month) has over 90 franchises and dishes out everything you need to know about franchising your business:

When you decide to franchise your business, it’s usually for a few different reasons.

  • You want to expand your brand while using other people’s money and efforts to do so. Or…
  • You feel you have made a system that is replicable and want to make money teaching people how to sell, service, or serve your particle widget.

Franchising is an animal in itself. It is truly unlike any other way business or business structure out there. When one buys a franchise, they’re buying a business model, a branded logo, and a support system. What one does not buy is a promise of success or any guarantees. Look, a business is a business is a business. You still need to work the business, breathe the business and live the business.

Well, franchising can be a great model for the right company, but it’s not without it’s headaches. There is massive legal paperwork; tremendous regulations from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), not to mention the individual States regulations on what a franchisor can and can not do with the people that buy your franchise in their particular State. There’s a lot to learn, too much to cover in this piece but it can be lucrative if done correctly.

I’m now on my fourth franchised organization and the game to me is winnable. Franchising has made me a millionaire several times over. I have sold over 350 units throughout all my companies and have gone international with two of those companies and about to be a third.

The Internet has changed the game when it comes to selling franchises quite a bit in the last decade. You can now buy leads from lead portals, work directly with brokerage houses, rely on your personal website through SEO conversions, use social media to target leads, etc. The days of running around the country to franchise trade shows are almost over. Trade shows still exist but it’s a very antiquated way of trying to sell a franchise. From what I see, only the new franchise concepts looking for a needle in a haystack go to franchise trade shows. I applaud them for taking action to get out there and go. Unfortunately, they’re normally left frustrated, disappointed and broke.

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Nick-Anthony Zamucen, on starting Bio-One ($1,200,000 revenue/mo) full story

Expand to New Countries

Expanding your product into new countries can be a great way to gain a new audience and have an even bigger footprint.

Just like any market, it's important that you do your research and have a good understanding of what the process will look like:

You may want to ask yourself things like:

  • Will my business be successful in another country? Have I done my research?
  • What are the tax and immigration regulations?
  • What will this cost me?
  • How much time will this take from start to finish, and is it worth it?
  • What will my hiring process look like?

Abeer Iqbal, founder of Remy Sleep conducted research and identified that his business would do really well in Germany:

This year we have plans to expand into new countries. 95% of our sales come from the UK. Our research shows Germany is an interesting market and worth getting into. The challenge with Germany is the language. Germany, like other European countries, prefers purchasing from local websites. This means hiring a German-speaking customer service rep, opening a German fulfillment center, and translating our website and email marketing.

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Abeer Iqbal, on starting Remy Sleep ($50,000 revenue/mo) full story

Research your Competition

Researching your competition can benefit your business in several ways. It can:

  • Help you understand your competitive advantages
  • Help you identify what areas you may be lacking
  • Help you evaluate things like customer service, pricing, and trends

You'll love the story of how Justin Clark, founder of RomperJack came up with his business based on a competitor:

In May 2017 just after finals ended (Just after our busiest time for whiz tutor), I came across a Kickstarter campaign called Romphim; it was a couple of guys trying to launch the men's romper. They essentially wanted to raise $10,000 to get their project going, but by day 3 they already raised $330,000! I was blown away!! The first thing that popped in my head was product-market fit. They had this instant explosive traction and they didn’t have a single competitor.

So I gave them a competitor, MEEEE 😎. I remember that day calling a couple of friends and quickly asking them for some funding that would be used to help design the rompers and buy inventory. After about a minute of me pitching them, they all happily agreed. Also, My other Whiz Tutor Co-founders all agreed to help as well.

That was the day the idea was born.

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Justin Clark, on starting RomperJack ($60,000 revenue/mo) full story

Launch a Side Project

Side project marketing consists of building an entirely new product or service that solves a need for your customer.

Buffer is a great example of a business that has done this. They launched Pablo (their side project) which gives customers ease when sharing on social media to create "inspirational quotes", while Buffer targets regular users of Social Media.

Another example would be Y Combinator creating a "news" section known as Hacker News

One of the main goals of launching a side project is to solve a need for your audience and bring them to your initial business

Leverage Existing Platforms

Leveraging existing platforms that have a proven track record can be a great way to scale your business and amplify your marketing.

A few examples of this would be:

-Amazon -Airbnb -Upwork

Ricardo Fernandez, founder of Fernaco realized the potential of starting a business through Amazon:

During college, I started my own services that dealt with social media and concert promotion; neither of which allowed me to do it full time and stop working. I knew I needed to figure out what else I could be doing that might allow me to have my own business full-time.

It wasn’t until I discovered Amazon FBA two years ago and saw some of the success of those “Amazon Gurus” you see on Youtube that I decided to start a business through Amazon might be a path I’d like to explore. I thought that if they could do it then I could, especially since it was so heavily reliant on working online and with computers – my background. I began by downloading an Amazon course and started studying how to become an Amazon seller.

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Ricardo Fernandez, on starting Fernaco ($10,000 revenue/mo) full story

Conclusion

That's it! 30 different strategies and examples to help your business grow quickly and efficiently.

We hope you found this guide helpful! If you're looking to grow your business, Join our community to learn more!

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Pat Walls,   Founder of Starter Story