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The following answers are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
1. Guest Blog
Over the years, I’ve gained a lot of credibility by guest blogging for other people’s sites. This can be anything from submitting an article to a trade publication to blogging regularly for Inc. Magazine. It’s one of the best ways I’ve been able to get my brand’s name out there while not being all over social media.
— John Rampton, Due
2. Pitch Journalists
PR still works. In fact, it’s how many of our favorite brands have been built. Bloggers and journalists prefer being pitched by a founder more than an agency representative. If you can come up with a truly compelling story of why your company matters to the writer’s audience, that’s your best shot of getting covered–and by extension, getting attention for your brand.
— Fan Bi, Blank Label
3. Hold Events
Partner with like-minded brands to involve their communities in special events. This is how you garner the attention of your desired audience. Don’t want to plan an event when there’s not something else going on? Integrate into a festival or trade show that’s industry specific. The event can be unofficial, and may end up being awesome.
4. Leverage Your Circle of Influence
Think about your professional network as if it’s a Web and have some real conversations. Instead of liking tweets from reporters you want to engage with, first figure out if your network can directly connect you with any media contacts. They may not cover the beat you’re after. But you’d be surprised by how quickly you can get to the right voice once you’ve developed some real relationships.
5. Reach Out to Product Reviewers
There are many product reviewers and bloggers who would love to share your brand on their website. Start by doing a search for the terms “your industry category” and “blog” on Google and Twitter. Copy their website URL and check their website traffic on Alexa.com to see if it’s substantial enough, then reach out to them through the contact section and offer your product for review.
6. Send Direct Mail
I know it may sound old school, but direct mailers can put your brand name and logo in front of thousands of people. These can be targeted pieces too. Lob.com is an excellent way to keep the cost of these mailers low. Plus Google likes when people search for you by brand name, which mailers can help your target audience do.
7. Get Out There
You have to take every single opportunity that is given to you in order to grow your business. That sometimes means creating opportunities where others may not see them. Join local committees, host a show on your local broadcasting network, or create swag that you can hand out at events. You have to put yourself out there and use every instance as an opportunity for brand awareness.
8. Pursue Channel Partnership
Channel partnerships are one of the fastest ways to grow if you don’t want to utilize social media. Find folks who have a similar audience and negotiate a mutually beneficial arrangement where you can access their users. This can be done as referral fees, upsells, cross-sells, etc.
9. Pursue Nontraditional PR Opportunities
One of our favorite ways to get our brand out there is to use our corporate headquarters as an event space for our local community. We frequently offer it to Philly nonprofits to host events and fundraisers, which helps us live one of our core values to be a community serving its community, introduces people to our company, and gives visitors a strong sense of our mission.
10. Send Monthly or Quarterly E-mails
Whether you’re building a personal or company brand, sending out a regular email update to the people close to you will help build your brand. You’ll be able to measure how many people received and opened your communication. You’ll get immediate feedback on how your content engaged your audience. And, you’ll have a direct line of communication to showcase what’s important to you.
11. Do Random Acts of Kindness
Many entrepreneurs are uncomfortable seeking the spotlight, yet a larger brand presence is important for driving growth. If you focus on delivering exceptional service to your clients (expediting orders, making a product donation to their favorite causes) they’ll tell your story for you. The best part? You’ll be building your brand by doing activities that make you feel good.
12. Become a Subject Matter Expert
Social media is only one aspect of building a successful brand. There are many more opportunities for driving traffic and garnering customers through content-driven sites. Become an expert in your field, develop a unique voice, and start reaching out to content providers to publish your articles and generate some real, quality leads and brand awareness.
BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.