My friends and agency leads often ask me how to start advertising their business, product, or service if they don’t have a marketing budget.
I am tired of repeating the same thing, so I decided to make a video about starting your marketing journey and how to get your first customers quickly, free or very cheap.
I will share a few strategies, share my personal experience, and actionable tips you can start using right away.
These strategies will work for almost any business, startup or can be used as a launch strategy.
You can’t expect thousands of customers right away, but it’s a great start for building the foundation for your business, referrals, and repeat purchases.
Don’t like to read? Watch the video!
So if you have a product, you are a mortgage broker, realtor, photographer, marketer, web developer, a B2C or B2C business, this works will work, unless your niche is super narrow, for example selling aircraft parts.
Utilize your network
The first strategy is to utilize your existing network of friends, family, relatives, and acquaintances. It is so easy, yet powerful.
01. People who know will trust you.
People who already know you and your networks will trust you more than new people you get by ads. And even a bad reputation is better than no reputation.
02. People who know you will support you.
There are people in your network who would like to support you and your new business idea.
And the younger you are, the more help you’ll receive, because your parents, aunties, and uncles, meemaws, grandpops, or other parent figures are going to talk about you every time they get a chance.
And it’s not just your family and relatives; others might support you and buy from you just because they want to help out.
03. People like to help out.
Number 3, we all like to be helpful. We get this feeling of helping our community. Like connecting two people we know, so they can work together. Because what could be better than helping two people at the same time without doing anything?
And for those who are skeptical and those who think it wouldn’t work, here is my personal story:
In the beginning, for some stupid reason, I didn’t share that I was in marketing, except for the closest people.
I felt kind of embarrassed, and I thought some people might judge me because I am just starting, and most of all, I thought that there are no people in my network who might be interested in my services at my price point.
And boy, I was wrong!
Last year, I finally started sharing that I am in marketing on my Instagram. Right away, people started messaging me with questions and referring their friends to me.
So remember, the more people know what you do, the more your name will magically appear in conversations.
Here’s another quick story of how this worked for me, but in the wrong field: Since high school, I was obsessed with photography, video, and fitness. I had my camera with me all the time, and I couldn’t shut up about working out.
On my social media, I mostly posted photos of me, me with a camera, or working out.
So many people thought that I was a photographer. On the street or at the events, they approached me and asked for a business card, and friends and family recommended me to people.
Others asked me to give them tips or to train them for money.
It’s been 7-8 years, and I still get messages asking for my rates.
01. Make a simple post and a story on your social media.
Your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, or whatever you use.
Say something like- “Hey, guys! It’s Daniel. I wanted to share some exciting news! I’ve worked as a financial advisor for over five years and now decided to narrow my path into Home Financing. It is a big step for me, and I am excited to start this new path in my life.”
So, say what you do, your plans, or your excitement for a new journey.
02. Mention what you do in conversations.
Start mentioning it in conversations. Tell everybody what you do offline.
For example, someone asks – “How are you?”, you answer – “Everything is great, just started selling real estate” or “opened an online store for my business” or “oh… well everything is good, working hard on getting my name out there”.
You can also share stories about what you do in the conversations.
With phrases like “I had a client who had the same issue as you do” or “I get you, it’s the same in my business.”
I don’t know if these are good examples, but mention them in some natural way. And remember, there is no need to pitch, show off or overthink it.
03. Share content related to your business.
Share content related to your niche and industry like articles and memes, maybe some of your work, photos of your product, good deals. Share FAQs.
It isn’t a big deal reposting someone else’s post, sharing an interesting article, a meme, or making a little post about yourself 1-5 times a week. It’s easy and doesn’t take much time.
But in return, your network will know what you do, and at the right moment, they will either refer you or use your service themselves.
Again, in the beginning, there is no need to overthink it. You don’t have to start a legit blog.
I mean, you could, but it takes time and much more effort. Though, it’s a great idea to have a daily blog about your life or post now and then, so people get reminded about you and what you do.
I don’t know what most of my friends do, because they never share anything. I am sure that I can be their customer, but they are so secretive about it.
My client, Rufina from RK Centre, tells about her business all the time to everyone. And she gets 95% of her customers from word-of-mouth. So make sure people know what you do.
One quick note, don’t try to sell yourself with phrases like- “if you need a consultation, call me.” There is no need to put your phone or email in the post. And please, please don’t spam the feed.
There is nothing better for attracting repeat and referral business, than providing exceptional service and building relationships.
But sometimes people don’t think about it, so here are a few simple tips:
Tip #1: Ask your friends for referrals.
If you haven’t had any customers yet, ask people you know on your social media to consider referring you.
Tip #2. Do follow-ups.
Personally, call or message your previous customers and ask how they are doing or if they need anything. Just be kind and genuine.
Tip #3: Provide exceptional service to everyone.
Even bad people have souls. They might be angry with you, it might just be the way they are, but if you made their experience good, there is a huge chance they could refer you.
Tip #4. Try to turn your business, product/ service into a subscription.
People need and want a lot of products and services regularly. Like creams, scrubs, social media management, software, or consulting services.
So try to get creative and either adapt your business or create a new one that will fit this model.
Tip #5: Ask your clients to consider referring you.
Because sometimes people are happy with your service, but they don’t think about referring you.
You could also offer something in return. What we do at Gazizoff Digital is give bonuses or offer free services to clients who refer us.
We also love to give presents, say thank you, or send best wishes on Christmas, Thanksgiving, Mother’s, and Father’s Days.
To some of our clients, we like to give presents, like a bottle of nice alcohol, flowers or at least call them and share our appreciation.
Tip #6: Use ads.
Okay, when you’ve done everything I just said, and your organic awareness starts to slow down, or in case you want to be a bit more aggressive, use ads.
It is much cheaper and easier than your might think. You don’t need to learn to advertise and do crazy campaigns. It’s about spreading awareness.
For just $60-$300 a month, you can reach thousands of people through Facebook and Instagram ads.
You should also try free or paid industry-specific platforms. For example, there are home stars for landscaping, up-city, and clutch for B2B services, Etsy for handmade products.
I am sure there is something for real estate agents, lawyers, or other services. I have friends who get all their business from these platforms, and they don’t spend much money.
If you want to use Facebook ads, you can make a simple video saying something like –
“Hey! My name is Bulat, a founder of Gazizoff Digital. A full-service marketing agency in Toronto. We have over 450 tools that help local businesses increase sales, build awareness and make their marketing better. If you have any questions regarding marketing your business or need something done, I’d love to help. My consultations are free of charge, so feel free to message me!”
One thing for sure, not many people are going to buy or contact you right away, but the longer you are going to run these ads, the more people are going to know about you, and when the time comes, they might buy or recommend someone to you.
For example, my friend Herman has a courier business named Gofr. I don’t need his services now, but when I do, I will use his app.
Almost all ads get some negative comments. Be ready for it.
Please, don’t get discouraged. There are lots of mean people. Your goal is to spread awareness. Just be smart about how you answer them.
By doing these small awareness ads, you can dip your toes into advertising, see what works, what doesn’t, and learn to improve them over time.
If you have any questions about Facebook ads, let me know in the comments below, and if I see that people are interested, I will make videos about it in more detail.
How not to get clients
So I talked about how to get clients. Here’s is a quick tip on how not to get clients. Ever.
You might want to go what I call “the dark route” to save some money.
Some agencies and services will offer you to send thousands of emails, cold calls, send Instagram and LinkedIn messages. Please, avoid those at all costs.
My friend was approached by an agency that offered outsourced cold calling. The guy who called was professional with a comforting voice.
It sounded like a great idea. The price was right, and the results he promised sounded amazing. So he started getting some clients.
But what happened was the call center was abroad and with the rudest people on the planet.
His Facebook and Google pages were filled with negative reviews complaining about spam calls and when people searched for his businesses, all the Google results were filled with negativity.
Every day, I get Linkedin messages from strangers, my spam folder is overloaded, and our website form submissions are packed with spam.
Also, I get about 5-10 cold calls every day.
Though cold interactions work for some, and others think it’s better to get one client and annoy the other 499 people. I’m personally irritated by that, so I can’t recommend it.
Just remember, if you do what I mentioned in this video, step-by-step, your network will grow, more people are going to come back and refer you, you will learn ads and figure out the best way to market your business.
But if you do everything I mentioned and you don’t get any results, message me and my team and I will help you.
So here is what I talked about:
- Tell people and post on social media about what you do.
- Share industry-related articles, memes, and news on your social media pages.
- Treat your customers with respect, care for them, and they will pay you by coming back or referring you.
- Dip your toes in paid advertising on industry-specific platforms or starting awareness ads.
- Don’t try to sell, be friendly, and let people know you exist. Don’t spam.
While you do all that, build your long-term assets, such as social media pages or a website.
If you are a local business, build your listings on Google, Yelp, and other platforms. If you are a restaurant, also utilize the local delivery systems like Uber Eats.
Once you start making money, you can invest in long-term assets like SEO, full-funnel advertising, a blog, or email marketing, or you could outsource your marketing to us.
So that’s it for today, see you next time!
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