How to build a brand…with no money

Those first few months in business can be a minefield. You’ve had the golden idea, you’re pretty sure you’ve got a market, you’ve got the name and the website. Now all you need are customers.

It’s a chicken and egg scenario; which comes first, the customers or the cash? You’ve got to speculate to accumulate but adopting an ‘owt for nowt’ approach to advertising isn’t overly likely to paint your fledgling business in the light you’d quite like it to be seen in. So, how to you build a brand with no money?

You start here…

1. Create your story, stick to it and spread the word

Nowadays, if you don’t have a story, you don’t have a brand. It’s your ethos, your mission, your why. Messaging ain’t just about sales spiel and top deals anymore; today’s consumers are looking for something that stands out amidst the noise of endless options. Write your brand story and create messaging that communicates it loud and clear. It costs nothing to think about why you do what you do and to be consist in communicating that in everything you do. People buy stories, so tell them yours.

2. Research your user, not the market

One of the smartest things you’ll ever do for your business – for free – is to research the hell out of those first few customers, whether that may be two or ten. Ask their opinions and actually listen to their feedback. Ignore what your ‘target audience’ is saying and concentrate on what your actual users are telling you. Suck it up and ask what their pain points are with your product or service. Ask what they wish you did differently and find out what you did well. Most of all, change and adapt accordingly.

3. Don’t create a following, create a community

There’s no getting around it; almost every business needs a social media presence today. Sure, if you’ve got the moolah you can throw money at Facebook ads or sponsored posts. But building a social media following without any budget? Now that’s a whole different ball game entirely. The way to do it? By creating a community.

Start with Instagram, where your ROI on time spent has the potential to have never been higher. Now, start by finding the hashtags relevant to your industry and following them, choosing a mix of both the obvious and the more obscure. Comment on posts with that hashtag, like the posts, share them, engage with others who follow the same things. In the midst of all this, post regularly to your own account too and when people comment, engage with them. Start a conversation and keep it going. Soon enough, the community – and with it the customers – will come a-knocking.

4. Build an army of ambassadors

See what influencers have done for Instagram? Ambassadors can do the same for you. FOR FREE. Say whaaat? They’ve used your product or service, dig what you do and have a natural affinity that doesn’t need rewarding with freebies or cash monies.

They are gold dust.

Word of mouth marketing is free and it’s the best damn marketing there is. Build an army of ambassadors, then encourage them to go forth and spread the word. It’s magic we tell you.

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