7 Activities That Don’t Scale but Will Win You Customers


Photo Credit:www.launchsolid.com

Starting a business is hard work and early on you will need to hustle to find your first customers. There is no need to stress right away about what marketing channels will scale because you won’t know which options work best. And even when you do find out what will scale, it’s often the activities that don’t scale that will continue to provide the best ROI.

1. Attend an Industry Conference

For example, if your business is building websites for construction companies, you need to find out the most popular conferences. A quick Google search shows these conferences would be a good bet to attend: Construction Super Conference or the International Conference on Transportation. For your first few conferences, going as an attendee is recommended so you can scope them out and determine if it makes sense for you to come back as a vendor (and possibly rent a booth). Spend time walking the aisles, and I love hanging out by the lunch area, if you sit down at the right table and strike up a good conversation you can make a critical connection.

2. Organize a Q&A with Industry Experts

Create a list of 6-10 questions and reach out to industry experts to see if they want to participate. Package up the responses in a PDF, include bios and photos and make sure to give everyone a copy. Blog about the responses and encourage participants to get the word out. Since you are appealing to the vanity of the experts, it’s very easy to drum up interest, don’t be afraid to ask!

3. Sponsor Relevant Meetup Events

Meetup events all over the world are going on and they are often just a handful of people. If you target relevant Meetup groups and offer to sponsor their next event, you will find a lot of takers. Sometimes money to buy pizza is all you need to do and the organizer will add a special offer on their Meetup page and if you’re lucky and/or persuasive they will announce it at the event.

4. Solicit Individual and Personalized Feedback on Your Product or Service

Early on it’s a struggle to get even 5 or 10 people on board as customers. When you do get the first few customers reach out to each one of them with a personal email and thank them for trying you out. Ask for pointed feedback and if you can get them to spare 10 to 15 minutes on the phone that is fantastic as they will provide helpful insight about your product.

5. Attend Local Meetings/Events

Leverage your hometown or nearest big city to attend marketing groups and meetings. Chamber of Commerce meetings or local business groups are a great place to start. It’s not that you will necessarily find your ideal customer in your backyard, but once you start talking about your new company, your networking may uncover other opportunities. In addition, the people you meet may know other people that will help propel your business forward.

6. Target Tangentially Related Companies for Joint Marketing Efforts

If you own a stock photo site, it would make sense to contact web development companies as they often need stock photos when they are creating new websites. You could create a co-branded landing page that provides a discount to the web development companies if they want to have access to a special offer on your site. You could send their special offer to your email list (and vice versa) if you want to do additional joint marketing.

7. Create Handwritten Letters as a Relationship Builder

The old school approach can win you big points. If you take time to customize handwritten letter like this example here, you have a great shot at making a beneficial introduction. Do your homework and understand what the person likes and dislikes before writing the letter and make sure to send it to their place of business.

11.16 headshotChad Fisher is a co-founder of Content Runner, a marketplace for connecting users and freelance writers for the creation of unique written content. Friends of Duct Tape Marketing can create a free account and receive a $30 credit to try out the writers on Content Runner, click here to learn more!

Turns Out The Future of the Office Isn’t an Office at All

think big coworking

This past week I made a business move that to me embodies a great deal of the change that’s gone on in business over the last few years.

I’ve owned my own business for twenty-years now and in some fashion have operated pretty much like most traditional small businesses. Sure I’ve been online longer than most, and I’ve never actually met my bookkeeper face to face, but I’ve also had an office with desks and chairs and printers and coffee pots and conference tables and servers and trash cans and supply closets and all the trappings of a standard office.

As my organization has grown over the years so too has my need for space and stuff to fill up space.

But a funny thing started to happen on the way to growth and change. As we moved things to the cloud we needed less physical stuff. As technology got better we needed fewer in-person meetings. As our reach expanded nationally and then globally we started to employ technology and engage talent wherever we found it.

My last office space – and by last I mean both the most recent and last I suspect I will rent – was just over 3,000 square feet and while my team is currently seven people on average the “office” was used by 1.75 of them on any given day. Between work from home staff, virtual staff and my current travel schedule, an office no longer makes sense.

I believe this is the case for most every business these days as well.

I interviewed Jason Fried, co-founder of Basecamp and author of REMOTE, for the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast recently and he shared this view as well. While Basecamp has an office in Chicago, their staff is spread around the globe.

Fried contends that their posture on remote work has allowed them to attract elite talent that would not have considered coming on board otherwise. Even Chicago-based staff members rarely come into the office unless collaboration is made easier by doing so.

One of my daughters works for Buffer, and while they maintain a small space in San Francisco, most of their staff works remotely. From what I’ve witnessed through my daughter’s experience Buffer has a stronger internal culture than any company I’ve worked with that maintains and internal staff and office.

Instead of an office they choose to invest in all hands meetings in exotic places around the globe. (I get a little jealous each time she tells me where they are going next.)

It’s funny but when I started my business almost three decades ago, “I’m going into business for myself,” kind of meant, “I can’t find a job,” and a home based business was sort of not really a business.

Today everyone wants to start a business, and the ultimate business model is an online business you can run while the kids rumble all around you throughout the day.

For now, I’ve taken what I think is the perfect hybrid step for my business.

I’ve rented 150 square feet of private space in a co-working space in Kansas City called Think Big Coworking.

The reason I call this the perfect hybrid is that it provides us with many of the benefits of a physical space on an as needed basis and also supplements many of the things we either weren’t able to offer staff or doing so would have been far too much work for a small group.

For example, we now have access to the latest video conferencing technology and small and large meeting rooms when we need them. We now have a sound proof recording booth for podcasts, interviews and webinars. We have access to over, 20,000 square feet of flexible seating, lounge seating, nook seating and yes game room seating. (Did I mention we no longer have to maintain or clean any of this!)

We have a full kitchen, coffee bar (free Red Bull anyone?) and snack shop. We have printers, a copy center and a mail center.

But perhaps equally as significant, we have a community of like-minded business owners and smart hustlers all around us. We have access to service providers who we will come to know on a personal level.

My staff members are energized by the fact that there’s a vibrant culture that exists in the space that’s greater than the work they do for us. They have built-in networking, learning and development opportunities that come to them every week.

Obviously, I’m not the first person to promote the virtues of co-working space, but they are often associated with startups only. I believe there’s now a tremendous opportunity for co-working communities to attract and serve more mature businesses that have begun to see the value of this mindset.

As business continues to evolve, I think community space is the future of work and the new office as we’ll come to know it.

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