Even though it seems like everyone is doing it, you don’t have to use social media to grow your business. This fast-paced, notification and newsfeed-centred way of distributing and consuming information might not be for you. It might not suit your business; it might just not be your jam. Plenty of businesses have flourished in the internet age without participating in social media.
If you don’t fancy creating content and interacting on social media platforms, here are 21 other ways of growing your business.
1. Go networking
Research networking events happening online, in your area or for your industry and go along. Be ready to meet a lot of people and follow up with those where you see synergy. Find an excuse to get in touch with them after the event, for deeper, real-life conversations that bring introductions and new clients. Don’t be shy; the networking gains go to people who put themselves out there and work the room. Remember other people and be memorable yourself.
2. Create collaborations
Collaborate with organisations and individuals with whom you share a target audience. Perhaps they pass you work as an associate of theirs, with or without a commission. Maybe you collaborate on programmes or the delivery of your work or your service is included in their proposals. Collaborations with big players in your industry can keep business coming your way with no tweeting required.
3. Take rifle shots
One step up from networking, research people who will make perfect customers, collaborators and connectors and get in touch from scratch. Aim to meet them at an event, ask them to book a call or take them for a fancy lunch. Have a compelling reason to book their time and don’t waste it when you have it. Then, play the long game. Keep a personal CRM to remember what you talked about and follow up regularly.
4. Improve your SEO
Ranking well on Google is no mean feat. If you can appear at the top for terms your audience is searching, you will win traffic and customers ahead of your competitors. For this to work, go in depth. Increase your SEO knowledge; learn about keywords, meta descriptions and link building. Arm yourself with the tools for search volumes and domain authority and be ready to create a lot of content.
5. Run ads online
Google Ads and YouTube ads can be a solid way of growing a business. Rather than building your own house, you are simply renting the land. Create incredible ads in the format required, collect tonnes of data, then analyse and edit. Keep going until you have a winning combination of headlines, images and calls to action that keep your potential customers clicking through to your site.
6. Join communities
There are more communities around than ever, so find the one that works for you. This could be for people in your industry, location or simply other entrepreneurs. Join and aim to add value. Share what you know, help other members, give everything you have before you ask to take. By the time you do, you’ll be trusted and well-known and members will be ready to introduce you or sign up as your customers. Cherry pick some of the members to create a mastermind for a personal development bonus.
7. Grow an email list
Rather than hitting publish and hoping you appear on enough newsfeeds, as with social media, with email marketing you can hit publish and know you are landing directly in the inbox of your subscribers. Grow an email list through all the ways mentioned so far, and offer a lead magnet to incentivise people to sign up. Once you have them, communicate regularly and consistently add value.
8. Make use of podcasts
Podcast usage is growing like crazy and it’s only going to increase. Your podcast strategy could be to start and grow your own, to guest on other people’s or to advertise on popular shows within your niche. Each requires careful research and planning to make sure you’re not wasting your time. Practice telling your story, build your network of podcast hosts and create goals for the number of shows you want to record or appear on.
9. Start a newsletter
One way to build your email list is starting a regular newsletter that they can’t wait to read. You could share a roundup of what’s been happening in your industry or offer a new video, article or insight with every issue. Plan your newsletter series, decide a launch date, then go out to people you know to collect your first hundred subscribers. Publish consistently. In every issue, encourage readers to share with their networks to grow your subscribers.
10. Exhibit at trade shows
Many industries still run trade shows and it’s a great way to build up a buzz and meet a bunch of people. Exhibiting means investing in a plot, a stand and a way of standing out. Attending means working the room like you would any other event. Exhibit with a game plan; know who you’re looking to meet and what you will say once you meet them. Automate your follow ups to exhibit with ease.
11. Work on public relations
Rather than schmoozing your followers, take a narrower approach and schmooze journalists by email. Get on their radar, catch their attention and follow up with ideas for how they could include you in their publication. Successful public relations require an advanced strategy of staying up to date, bugging them just the right amount and adding commentary in a way that other people want to publish what you say. Or, be so newsworthy that journalists come to you.
12. Run workshops
Whether online or in person, run workshops to share your message and teach your methods to groups. Advertise on websites such as Eventbrite, Meetup and Airbnb experiences to bring people in from their traffic, notify your email list or tell local business owners and pin flyers up in the community. Run them regularly so your attendees create the habit, then ask them to tell a friend and grow your workshop numbers by referral.
13. Run print ads
Online advertising is sexy but print ads can still be a solid bet. Magazines and newspapers are still read on paper, same as event programmes, billboards and sponsor displays for sports teams. Design a stunning ad complete with a tried-and-tested call to action. Testing print ads also requires including a code or specific URL so you know when they have been a success, but it might work perfectly for your business.
14. Host events
Networking events, awards dos, fireside chats, panel discussions, contests, dinner parties. There is no shortage of events you could run for people who make great customers or connectors. Design and plan the event then tell everyone you know, incorporating the other methods in this list to get the word out there and get people along. One successful event means you can make it annual, to bring fresh customers to your door year on year.
15. Become a blogger
Instead of waiting to be printed by the journalists you schmooze, start your own blog for your own target audience. Decide on your topics, decide on your cadence, then begin turning writing and publishing into a habit. Engage within blogger communities to share your link, make it easy for readers to turn to subscribers, and cover every topic that you know is relevant to your dream customer base. Write with a specific person in mind and test out formats as you go along.
16. Work with influencers
Instead of building your social media following to promote your own company, make use of the effort influencers have already spent building trust within a specific niche. Find them online and ask if they work with brands, then define an influencer budget and try a few out. Metrics can lie, so keep track yourself. Experiment with different types of placements and different types of people until you hit on perfect alignment and the sales start to flow.
17. Do speaking gigs
If you’re an entrepreneur with a story, other people want to hear it. Set yourself up as a speaker to be booked for events that others are hosting. Get good at educating and inspiring to add the most value possible. Approach big brands and event organisers and set up profiles on speaker directories. Include a way of people hearing more within your presentation and nurture them through to enquiries and sales.
18. Build and they will come
Set up on a busy street to make use of location in getting new customers. New bars, restaurants and coffee shops in high footfall areas benefit from potential customers walking by every single minute. For an online alternative, build something cool and post it on Product Hunt or Reddit. Ask your friends to upvote and share with your list. Post when you’re ready for potentially thousands of hits.
19. Guest blogging
Other business owners run websites that are hungry for content. Provide the content to be published on their turf. Not only may a valuable article be read by their audience and start flocking your way, but you can also ask for a backlink to build the ranking power of your site. Build relationships with the webmasters and editors of collaborator sites and mind map article titles to offer to them. If they accept, write in their style and add all the value.
20. Have a referral programme
If I loved your product and wanted to tell my network, could I earn commission when they bought? Referral programmes and affiliate links are one of the simplest ways to incentivise happy customers to bring their friends. Create the programme, invite specific people, then share the winnings and grow your business on their shoulders. You could include a referral link on packaging or landing pages.
21. Start your own group
Chances are, you know some cool people. Your customers, suppliers and extended network likely have plenty of things in common. There’s huge value in starting a group and being the connector of everyone you know. Group ownership means curation of topics, suggesting of ideas, and being in everyone’s minds every time they engage. Use Discord, Slack, Mighty Networks or an alternative to connect and chat online.
If you are determined to grow your business, there are plenty of methods you can try before you dance around for TikTok or become a victim of the Instagram algorithm. Finding people, adding insane value and staying in touch is the basis of most business growth, and these 21 ways provide an alternative way to do exactly that.
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