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1,000 Practical Growth Hacks For Your Business

1,000 Practical Growth Hacks For Your Business

Growth Tips For Freelancers and Startups

  • Who do you pay for services right now? Do you have an accountant? A lawyer? A designer? A bookkeeper? A web developer? These people have networks. They know that you’re reliable because you’ve demonstrated trust in the most efficient way — you’ve paid them. Ask them for a referral. They know that the more business you do, the more money you’ll have to keep on paying them. So it’s a win-win.
  • Sure, not every platform for social media is in your target market. But there are people on every platform who know people who are. Think about that for a moment. How can you tap into them for their referral benefit?
  • If you have a list of products and services that aren’t being used by all your clients, you’ve got a massive opportunity. Here’s your new goal. Sell all your products and services to each of your clients. Highlight the ones who aren’t paying for certain things and then focus on closing them with additional products.
  • Measure your To-Do list by whether or not the tasks contribute to growth. In essence, every single thing that you do in your company should be a growth hack. You’re switching providers for your Internet? Can you turn that into a “Why” post and find a local Facebook group for business owners in your area and provide it to them as a valuable piece of content that will put your business in front of them? There’s a way to tie everything back to growth.
  • People still turn to the yellow pages and the phone book and the local directory to find service providers. You might not, I might not, but they do. I get marketing clients all the time from local directories. Never discount their value.
  • Don’t just rely on “Seat of your Pants” marketing. Plan ahead. There are unique opportunities for growth at every single point of the year ahead of you. Topical things, cyclical things, events, resources, products that you can plan ahead to have ready for when people are going to be organically ready. Here’s an example. Right now, the Super Bowl 2018 is exactly a year away. So this is an incredible time to start planning a 2018 Pre-Bowl party for your current clients.
  • Build new mailing lists regularly. Sure, you want to have a unified bunch of subscribers on one list, but to do that, you want to have your feelers out there, everywhere. Let’s say you’re building a piece of project management software for businesses to use from 1–1,000 employees. If you push the mailing list to that broad audience, you’ll have a lot of people who aren’t interested. But if you have separate lists for freelancers, SMEs, nomads etc, you can build a niche list that could 100x your reach.
  • Can you get into video? Don’t bother answering, it’s going to be Yes. Every single business can make video work for them. Don’t have a fancy camera? Neither did Dropbox when they recorded their screens and did a voice over about why their product made sense. Don’t have a laptop? That’s cool, one of the hottest mediums right now is Snapchat, which is mobile-first anyway. Find your customers there. Get creative with this one.
  • Have an office? Offer it to startups as a free coworking space when you’re not using it. You’ll get a lot of people who will suddenly become very aware of you and what you do. Have a spare couch? Do the same thing. I did this when I started Creatomic, and it’s one of the ways I picked up my first coaching client. They were an entrepreneur who I let crash on my couch.
  • Be a curator. Build the greatest resource list and library of all time for customers who are in your niche. It’s that simple. You’re just going to have to get a site online with a list of the resources that are already out there, and suddenly you’re the number one expert in their interests.
  • Give away your best ideas. I offer free knowledge everywhere I can, and I don’t hide things behind paywalls. If people want to pay, they can. But they want to, because I’ve already shown off my best stuff.
  • Remember the names, the families and the personal information of every single one of your customers. Or just write it down in Evernote or your CRM. Use that information to demonstrate that you care. Look for ways to surprise and delight. One of my clients had a kid entering their Senior year at high school. I put her in touch with a killer tutor who owed me a favour. The result? The client now looks at me as much more than just a service provider.
  • Mix with your target audience. Don’t just wait for them to find you online, get offline and get in front of them. I’ve spent enough time at my local pub to know that the salespeople from the local Audi dealership hang out there. I’ve gone down and bought enough rounds for them to get to know me. Last week, one of them put me in touch with one of his clients, an Audi owner, who also happens to be a lawyer looking for marketing. I knew that these salespeople were coming into touch with wealthy business types, so I knew I wanted to get in front of them. It was out of the box thinking, and it worked.
  • Set aside one hour every single day to do non-scaleable marketing. One hour to call people, email individuals, do the unexpected, offer people value that goes above and beyond. Record video pitches. Create presentations for just one potential client. A) this will pay off regularly. B) this will inspire your scaleable marketing, every time.
  • Get the data. Get to know the data. Look for anomalies in the data. Use the anomalies in the data. I‘m not talking about delving into your analytics like a weird Gollum, I’m talking about getting the serious statistics on your target market, the industry research and the white papers. I’m talking about finding that data and looking through it as growth research.
  • Send out sticker packs. To every single person you know. Every one of ’em. No excuses. No buts. No ifs.
  • Post your content on Facebook. No, not as a link. Copy and paste the entire article. People are passive on Facebook these days more than they are active. If you can make it that much easier to read, they will read.
  • Share your Facebook messenger code. Seriously. Nobody is doing this, and it’s an awesome tool because so many people are on there, and are curious about how the code works, so they’re likely to try it. This is the best time to be doing that.
  • Think about how every single document you have in your business that external people see could be used as a marketing document. There’s a reason supermarkets put advertising and coupons on the back of your receipt. Every document is a marketing tool. So, think about contracts, about welcome letters and yeah — about receipts. Could these push your products, services or value as well as performing their function?
  • Use your vacation time for more than just relaxing and recharging. Use it for knowledge building. Read great books, learn great things, get through your Instapaper queue. The ideas this is going to generate will be far more effective than the ideas you squeeze out while you’re in crunch mode. That’s only going to help growth.
  • Understand what’s next in your industry. Understand what your clients are scared about. Understand what they’re excited about. This is going to present you with opportunities to upsell and create new services and products than can help you grow.
  • Look for the weird advertising opportunities. Laughing Squid sponsored Frank Chu’s sign and got viral street press from it. It was out of left field, but people got into the idea, and it exposed them to a whole audience of diverse people.
  • “Open Another Location” — this is a fun one. Get a virtual office in another city or another state with its own address. Then contact potential clients and offer a free consultation or session or deal to celebrate you opening in their area. If you have to, fly down for a night. Or drive down and sleep in your car. One of my mates running a boutique law firm did that.
  • Remind every single employee or partner or founder that it is always their job to be an ambassador for the business. When people ask them what they do, how do they respond? Do you have a process that everyone in the business can follow if people ask to work with you? If your senior developer’s Aunt gets excited when she hears about his platform, is there a deal that the Dev can instantly offer her that will close them on the spot? Is there a benefit for doing that?
  • Look. I know you probably don’t care about your local business associations. But you know who does? Business owners who have been successful in your local area long before you came along. Business owners with respectable businesses and — yes — cash to spend.
  • Wear your business’ T-shirt everywhere. Wear it to events, to the local coffee house, to family gatherings. Make sure the T-shirt is weird. Mine says “Creatomic Exists Only In This Dojo Sensei.” People ask about it, they get told about it, and I pick up clients.
  • You know what’s often a waste of time? Sending out press releases. You know what’s never a waste of time? If you see an article that actually relates to your field — organically — reach out to the journalist with some valuable information. Not information that promotes you, information that they can honestly use. That’s how to build a relationship with the press.
  • Use your mistakes. You know what’s given me great engagement? After I’ve sent an email to a client, immediately replying and apologising for a deliberate mistake, so I can highlight an additional piece of information. Here’s what that looks like: “Oh hey, sorry about that — I forgot to include the pricing for our best service…it’s $4,999 for 30 days of full-service marketing — but we’ll throw in an additional 15 un-billed days.” By including in a separate message and acknowledging a mistake, I’ve pushed it further in front of the client. Yes, that really works.
  • Use Barternomics. Offer your services to your peer group in exchange for access to their networks. Can you write emails from your marketing business for your network, in exchange for a link in their EDMs?
  • Get a loyalty card. Again, businesses do this because it works. Starbucks does this because it works. Make the rewards valuable. If the client has paid 5 invoices, do they get free access to software from your partner network? If they’ve paid 10, do they get champagne?
  • Give out a hotline to your closest clients, even if you have to get a dumb phone with an extra number to do it. You can then offer this hotline to your truly valuable clients at no extra cost, keep it with you and demonstrate your value. If they call it, guess what — that’s another opportunity to ask for referrals. So ask.
  • Run your own awards show. This is a cool idea. Offer up $1,000 in prize money to go to the charity of the winners’ choice, and choose an outstanding example of a business in your target demographic. The publicity this can provide is an awesome growth idea, plus hey — you give to charity. Charities need money.
  • Get back to your local community. Can you sponsor the softball team down the road? Pay for the kids’ uniforms? Guess what. You’re about to become respected in your area and get your name, face, and business in front of local community leaders. I’d say you can’t buy that kind of exposure but…yeah. You can.
  • Get video testimonials from every single client. Doesn’t have to be fancy. It can be on a phone or a webcam. Just have them state their name, their business and why you’re awesome. That’s going to go a long way to helping you out.
  • Calculate your marketing costs. Actually, know how much it takes to get a business across the line. Be prepared to spend that. Look for creative ways to spend that. Don’t ever spend a penny more than what’s going to make the deal profitable.
  • Use your content. Every single video you make, every email you send, every blog post you write has value. You can turn them into marketing courses, white papers, books, documentaries, the list is endless. And that gives you another product to push. Which gives you more potential leads, or a closer relationship with your current clients.
  • Divide your market up into niches. Have separate landing pages, business cards, flyers, emails, PDFs, lead magnets, content, resources etc. for each niche. That’s what I did when I pushed to real estate agents.
  •  Own the Slack communities, Facebook groups and LinkedIn groups connected to your target audience. Can’t do that? Own the niche versions. Go niche by platform, by local area, by income level, but just own them. You’ll be the gatekeeper to a willing audience of people.
  • Host Friday night drinks. Put out an open invite to your business community. Get people in the door, put a drink in their hand, and get up in front of them every Friday to say thanks for coming. I did this for a while by renting out a big meeting room and buying a few crates of beer. Oh, and there were business cards everywhere.
  • Volunteer. I get in front of people all the time because I do things that I don’t charge for, in order to help causes I care about. I wrote a blog post on why Sex doesn’t sell for a women’s organisation that campaigns against sexual objectification, and because of that, I met some incredible women who are building businesses online. They respected the work I’d done, and they cared enough to become clients.
  • Sell a $1 service. I’m about to do this again for Reach by Creatomic. I offer a $1 marketing consultation every now and then, just via email. Folks love it, because it’s unusual, it makes them consider the value of what they buy, and they’re actually far more likely to sign up for a buck than they ever would be for free.
  • Focus on the local press. Your local newspaper. The local reporters. These folks are more receptive and more present in the lives of the people around the corner and the small business owners you haven’t even met yet than some startup blog.
  • Forget your non-compete. Let your employees offer any services they want to on the side. Sell any products they want to on the side. With the caveat that they use you and your product and push it to their customers. I was working with a law firm who were worried about one of their lawyers offering legal editing on the side to pay off a mortgage. The firm didn’t even offer that editing service because it was too low value. We cut a deal with the lawyer to encourage him to convert the legal editing clients into law firm clients. By doing that, the firm made an extra $50,000 when one of the lawyer’s editing clients needed representation.
  • Pay attention to the changing weather. By that, I mean current events. There’s a reason I started offering online retail consulting to Aussie businesses this year, right before Amazon launched here for the first time…
  • Record an audio version of every single piece of content you ever create. Put it in the bank. Send it out to your mailing list. Host it on SoundCloud. Use it as the introductory hook in a prospecting message.
  • My first gig that I ever played, my family and my Mum made up 80% of the audience. So what? At least I had an audience. Don’t be scared to ask your family for connections, for introductions and for advice on getting new clients. Do the same for your immediate friends, your classmates, the boss at your regular job. Your immediate network can pay off.
  • Turn up to every conference or industry event with a backpack full of phone chargers and use the event’s hashtag on Twitter to let everyone know that you got their back. You’re about to meet a whole bunch of folks in your target market who suddenly owe you one.
  • Beg anyone who will listen to let you speak. Even if it’s only in front of 5 people at a tiny meet up. Me, I take every single speaking gig I’m offered, regardless of how big or small it is. They’re all an opportunity to meet the best client you’ve ever had in your life.
  • Curate YouTube playlists. Have the biggest and best playlists for information on your customer’s target market. That’s an easy hack to get a whole bunch of followers — and hey, it gives you something more to share with your audience to offer them value.
  • Team up. Find businesses that offer a similar but complimentary product or service and work with them. I work with a guy named M.J. who runs a life coaching business. When his clients need business coaching, guess who he turns to? When my clients need to recover from a tragedy and need a helping hand to guide them, guess who I turn to? It. Works. Every. Time.

Part 2 (51–100) is coming next week. And then every single week until I hit 1,000. To keep up with the list of 1,000 growth hacking ideas, you can sign up for it right here.


[This post by Jon Westenberg first appeared on Medium and has been reproduced with permission.]

Author

A Sydney based writer focusing on creativity, technology and business.

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