You hear of these "starter" companies making it big and outdoing their competitors with next to nothing in their bank accounts and zero marketing funding. But can this be done? And if so how?
Below are some brainy, first-time entrepreneurs that made their dreams a reality and spent at microscopic levels getting there. Learn some tricks of the trade and how to market effectively on a budget!
From the Beginning.....
Ten years ago, Chris Dingman launched his first company called The Dingman Group, and it relocates professional athletes. If an athlete is traded, let’s say traded from the Miami Heat to the Cleveland Cavaliers, The Dingman Group would arrange to sell the house in Miami, pack it up, move the stuff and find a new home in Cleveland. This intelligent, one-of- a kind business grew from zero to hero in just a few years. How did they pull off such an impossible accomplishment? When asked, Dingman replies, “When it comes to PR and advertising, we’ve never paid for anything, ever.”
This brilliant company didn't attain triumph by having invisible customers throw money at them, so how did they present their brand to potential buyers?
When these companies claim “no to marketing,” they mean they aren’t using advertising, broadcasting, or traditional methods that many of us are used to. So, even though it seems these companies aren’t marketing, they are, but they are doing it in a far more personal way, also similar to (inbound marketing strategies.)
Other Success Stories...
- In 2013, the Bad Ass Work Gear was founded by lifelong oilman Paul Chittenden. This newly found fortune makes durable vinyl bags and heavy-duty gloves for seriously dirty work, including oil rig repairs and offshore drilling (as well as firefighting and environmental clean-up jobs.)
Chittenden relied heavily on Facebook and leveraged personal relationships he already had within his industry. Soon his business became the hot topic, and with each completed project (ship, rig, etc.) earned him hundreds of new customers. To add a personal touch to his brand, he slipped vinyl Bad Ass Work Gear stickers into each order- “The more stickers, the cooler your hard hat is,” he says.
- A first-time entrepreneur Lisa Murphy used her personal story to build her brand’s popularity. She developed Sosu Sauces- a line of specialty ketchup and sriracha hot sauce. Murphy relied on her story and personal touch to build up product, and she was always cautious to be the face of it. She quickly spread her passion for food traditions from her native Shanghai and her personal travels through Southeast Asia that helped her come up with her sauces’ flavors and the sourcing of quality ingredients from local growers. When she took her tale to Kickstarter, she raised $104,146.
While there are plenty of brands that don’t have inside knowledge nor that works at a Farmers Market, in a merciless competitive industry some brands simply cannot survive without an expert eye. Sometimes teaming up with other companies within your field is a low-cost and beneficial to help your sites and services grow. Learn for experienced leaders within your industry, explore what makes them successful and what challenges they face. Since most people love talking about their selves getting some free insight on personal challenges and achievements can be a useful way to gather ideas and plans.
Chief content officer of Marketing Profs, Ann Handley says “The best marketing is more about brains than it is about the budget. Think through who you are trying to attract, what value you can offer them and how you can put your product or service in the context of their life.”
Affordable Marketing Strategies that Work
How are Contests and Giveaways Attention Grabbers?
Everyone likes getting something for free, so contests and promotions are a great way to attract traffic and email sign-ups to your site. The Green Bride Guide runs a monthly contest featured on their home page which gains more email sign up than any other promotion or feature they run. It also helps to post your contests on social media sites too.
You are Never too Big to Make an Appearance
Founders and CEOs often forget what a powerful presence they are; people get especially excited to meet the visionary of the company-not the publicist. There seems to be this belief that marketing is relegated to a lower level, and it should never be the job of the CEO. But it shouldn’t be forgotten the CEO is one of the most powerful & influential faces of a company.
If you decide to run a content or a promotion, have the CEO deliver the news to the winning contestant. You will get a bigger reaction from your fan base when they get actually to hold a personal conversation with the “brains” of the product they’ve trusted for so many years.
Stay on Social Media Sites
It has been said over and over, but the power of Social Media is far from a dwelling. Use sites such as Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn to get your brand and name out there. Regularly post content and keep updated on the latest topics and interests your viewers are interested in.
One of the newest growing media trends is Pinterest. This is rapidly growing visual pin/board social network with over 10 million visitors that allows you to pin images to visual boards. Create boards built around the important keywords for your company, and post content on your website about how your clients can use Pinterest; How to Use Pinterest to Plan Your Wedding.
Whereas you never want to buy links, try creating a link network with other businesses. These links can take the form of blogrolls, promotional posts, or banner ad exchanges. Considering most people’s budgets are tight, companies are quicker to jump at swapping space and links more than ever.
Build Relationships and Network
Looking back at the Dingman Company, his personal marketing approach turned his dream of relocating athletes into an actual business. But how exactly did he reach his ideal customer? Dingman only asked himself, “Who are the people I need to build relationships with?” “Players, team personnel, advisors, business managers if I could choose one of those, which do I have the closest connection to? How do I get there?
Dingman began to reach out to athletes, he had a couple of loose connections-introducing himself and invited them to call back if they ever needed his help. The calls were uncomfortable, and certainly not something he looked forward to. But after a year in a half, his nail-biting efforts finally paid off. He scored his first client through networking and keeping his contacts close. Dingman sprang into action; one client led to two. Two to three. A few years later, he continued to connect with new players through players that already used services, their advisers, and their teams, and business took huge leaps after that.
Always Keep a Personal Touch
Once your company transforms, and founders have to decide what roles they still want to play there is no shame in delegating some responsibilities. Maybe it’s time to hire marketing experts who are knowledgeable at reaching new levels and customers. Or an advertising agency to refine your message. But whatever path you decide, the smart leader never withdraws from marketing never stops connecting with old and new customers never stops appearing on blog posts no matter how big a company gets.
If you are looking to refine your marketing approach and it give your brand a more personal approach, our Digital Marketing Strategies and Services can keep your potential customers engaged and coming back for more.
At Kirk Donovan Enterprises we offer a variety of digital services available to help you reach new clients in a welcoming and inviting manner. If you're looking to customize your website, develop quality content, or perform marketing analytics, these are just a few services we provide. Click below to find out about our additional marketing services!