Your business startup is worthless without sales, right? What makes this reality even more scary is that you’re in the beginning stages of your business which means that you have no reputation, no experience, no word of mouth, and very little capital to remedy that situation.
But you have to get some people talking and once you do that, advertising is cheap. The best advertising is the positive word of mouth advertising that you don’t pay for. Here are a few ways to get that started.
When your yard starts to show signs of weeds you don’t pull the individual weeds. Instead, you head to the store, grab a big bag of weed killer and spread it across the whole yard. That may work for dandelions but not for growing a business. Instead of putting together a form e-mail and sending it to everybody you can find, put together a list of 20 people that you believe would be influential to your business. Bloggers and reporters are a great first step.
Take a look at their blog, facebook page, twitter feed, and anything else you can find about them. See if there are any common interests. Maybe you each have a child in a certain baseball league or maybe you both enjoy boating. Were you both in the military or do you both share the same passion for charity work? These are common ground items outside of your business. Send them a note striking up a conversation about your common ground. As the relationship grows, your business has an ally.
Ask their opinion
As you get more comfortable, ask them for help. As your new friend learns about your business, ask their opinion about how to grow it. Encourage them to be honest and take opinions graciously and make sure to put in to action anything that you agree with. Offer to help them if you have expertise in areas that they don’t.
Remember, you don’t have to wait until your business opens to begin spreading the word. Start early and include your advertisers in the development process. Everybody loves to be thought of as an expert and by asking their opinion throughout the process, you are giving them ownership in your business and that might give them incentive to talk about you.
Of course you aren’t going to be able to form relationships with all 20. Some will ignore you but it only takes a few to help grow your business. Most important, go in to this process with a sincere heart for meeting somebody new and adding value to their life. Using somebody is never a good strategy but forming a friendship has benefits far beyond business.