How to build your brand on the cheap

If you’re thinking about starting a business, let us shorten your learning curve by giving you the actionable basics first, minus the fluff and fancy stuff.

1. Build your followers through local meet-ups

Going along to networking events and local meetups can get your word out there fast. Word-of-mouth marketing has been around a lot longer than any social media channel and you could argue it’s the original platform. It’s a seriously powerful way to influence business results. It’s the one form of marketing that your customers are most likely to trust and it’s also the one that’s most likely to drive sales. So find out what local events are taking place near you and start conversations with people you don’t know. What’s the worst that can happen? You meet some new people who you might become friends with, and even better, they connect with you because of your brand!

2. Test which social media accounts are working for you

Social media rocks, right? You can grow a business just by spending a couple of hours a day in front of your laptop – it’s bonkers! But you can also lose a lot of valuable time on social too and it’s critical – especially in the first stages of setting up a business – that you prioritise what’s working and cut out what’s not. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself browsing through your feeds getting distracted by goat gifs, with no focus. Different social platforms do very different things for brands and only you can work out which channels are most effective for your brand. There are many different ways to engage and they all have their own style too, so first, you need to work out where your audience is active and searching. Then match the niche social media sites that are right for your brand.

3. Get familiar with your local Facebook groups

An obvious point, but many, many businesses take the wrong approach to this. Rather than filling your Facebook feed with posts from 245 groups you’ve joined, all with the same people in and much the same content, be selective. Use your Facebook analytics to see where your new customers are and target these groups only, building relationships with relevant local people. If you’re in the wrong groups talking about topics that don’t match the mood, you’ll only irritate and isolate those people who could be your potential advocates in the future.

4. Start posting and sharing!

Not even the naysayers can claim that social media is a fad anymore. If you’ve only been dabbling and not really putting the effort in, step it up! It’s an ongoing conversation that you must be a part of if you want to grow your business, so focus on the social sites you need – choose one or two that you will be involved with on a day-by-day basis and two that you will schedule content to using a tool such as Hootsuite or Buffer. Think about the type and style of content you are publishing, make sure it’s relevant for that audience and channel and then get posting and sharing!

5. Offer free taster sessions

There are so many different ways to promote and share your specialist expertise if you can offer some of it for free first. It’s an amazingly effective way of building a trustworthy and credible brand when you are unknown locally, while meeting new people and spotting good quality opportunities in your local area. You could host a free workshop for a local cafe or hold a Q&A webinar online, depending on where your customers are likely to be. They are simple, affordable ways to share your expertise locally and if you offer value, people will talk about you afterwards with their friends.

6. Give them an offer they can’t refuse

Give your new customers a chance to get to know you first by removing any price barriers. If they have to think about the purchase before they commit, they’re far less likely to go ahead. But if you drop the price within a range they are used to spending, they’ve got no reason to debate it. So you don’t affect your pricing longer term, try making the offer specific to a product that is a one-off – combine it with a free taster session and offer a heavy discount on your first commitment. It’s all about building the trust beforehand.

7. Find relevant partnerships

Everybody you meet is relevant, whether they become your paying customers or not. Even if people try your products and find it’s not for them, you can bet that they know somebody who’s interested. Building positive relationships at a local level will continually reinforce your brand, its credibility and authority. So get out there and find people who have similar audiences to you, who might be interested in a collaborative event or product that you can both promote and benefit from.

8. Talk to bloggers

Find bloggers who are relevant to your brand, share your story in a way they can relate and look for ways to build an ongoing relationship with them. If you comment on their posts, it will boost your own credibility as well as making the blogger happy, so it’s a win-win! Be genuine and helpful, don’t go in for the hard sell – that approach died a very sorry death some time ago. Get your approach right and it’s brilliant for your brand visibility as well as getting links back to your own site.

9. Run a competition

Host a social media contest and get your followers to submit a photo or video, with other users voting for their favourites. When this content is shared with their family and friends to get more votes, it automatically builds your brand awareness as a result!

And finally – never forget the importance of your own research. What matters today may not apply in six months time and your customers are the only ones who can tell you what’s working. So start talking, do your homework and ask your favourites what they think!