When an entrepreneur comes to me and asks what should I do to grow my business the first question I usually ask them in response is do you have more time or do you have more money?
The truth of the matter is, in most cases, you’re either going to see slow growth organically or faster growth with investment.
But many early entrepreneurs say they don’t have money to invest – but they also don’t want to wait to catch traction organically.
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What is the Least Expensive Way to Get Business in Front of New Customers?
Before we get to my #1 recommendation for anyone in that situation, we need to have a little mindset shift. A little real talk if you will.
It is unlikely you’re going to get fast and cheap when it comes to the growth of your business. Sure there are a few unicorns out there. Or so it seems on the outside… but it’s unlikely to truly be the case.
Ultimately, you’re going to have to invest something in your business for it to grow. And if you’ve been in business for a while and have hit a plateau that you’re not a fan of, this is likely also the case.
So, if you are in this situation right now… what do you do? The answer to that is to tap into other people’s audiences.
What exactly this looks like is going to depend on your product and business, but here are a few ideas.
Collaborate With Other Small Business Owners
My favorite, collaborate with other small business owners. You knew I was gonna say that right? This can be online or in your local area. If you’re concerned about a mismatch in audience size, make that part of the agreement. If you have 5,000 people on your email list and they have 20k, they can just send the promotion to 5,000 of their people.
Sell on a Marketplace
Yes, your margin is lower because you have to give those platforms a piece of your sales. But essentially, you’re just paying for the exposure and access to the audience they have built up. The good news is, in most cases, while you might have to pay a small listing fee, you don’t have to pay until you sell something.
You’ll want to actively look for the right partners, but platforms like Faire make it a lot easier to manage. Tune into episode 51 with Katie Hunt of Proof to Product as she walks us through how to get your product on store shelves.
This will of course cost some money, but if you do your research and it’s a market that is good at marketing itself you should be able to recoup your costs.
Get PR Coverage for Your Products
While it can take some work, true PR coverage doesn’t cost more than your time and a sample product or two. Check out episode 105 with Nora Wolf where she schools us on getting PR coverage. She also has a DIY course that walks you through how to get your product-based business into gift guides*.
While it is focused on Holiday Gift guides the principles are the same and with Mother’s Day and Father’s Day still months away that could be a great opportunity to get your product in front of A LOT of eyeballs. I’ll stick links in the show notes for you.
Do Podcast Guest Spots
Last, at least for today, and certainly not least is to position yourself as the expert in your space and pitch yourself to be on other people’s podcasts. If there is a community around the product you sell, there’s probably a podcast or many about it. Just like PR, you have to be creative about your pitch and the value you can bring to the show’s audience. While we also talk about podcast advertising, which admittedly can be expensive, the people who manage podcast pitching for me came on the show to show us how we can use podcasts to promote eCommerce businesses.