Putting up a bunch of content is a great long term plan, but it rarely generates sales very quickly (if at all…and it’s very hard to track).

I like the influencer approach to marketing (also known as strategic partnerships), but those oftentimes take months to build a relationship strong enough so that they trust sending work your way or giving you a shout out on their platform.

Here’s what I’m suggesting if you’re a business that can’t afford to spend money on marketing: put content creation on pause, continue outreach for building strategic partnerships (or influencer marketing relationships), but focus 2/3 of your marketing efforts on a proactive strategy you can control.

Here are a few methods that work really well for generating quick results:

  1. Get interviewed on podcasts in your niche. Get on iTunes and search for podcasts your customers are likely listening to. Reach out to the host with a few ideas on how you could provide a ton of value to their audience. Put together a PDF or something else valuable you can give away to their audience in exchange for an email address. Or offer a discount for your services if they fill out a short questionnaire. Do the interview and give a CTA to your website or landing page. Follow up with everyone who signs up.
  2. Find Meetup groups in your customer’s industries. If you’re a marketer, don’t go to a Meetup for marketers to find customers. That might be a great place to find people to build partnerships with, but not to find customers. Go to a Meetup where your customers are likely hanging out. Build a solid connection, provide a ton of value, and set a time to meet afterward. Follow up afterwards.
  3. Start your own Meetup group. For example, if you offer a service to small business owners in tech, start a Meetup group for that community. Be the person who brings your industry together. People LOVE this. Plus, it gives you something that you can always invite people to.
  4. Put together a solid outbound strategy. If you can’t afford to spend money on tools, keep it basic. Get on LinkedIn and Google, and search for company’s in your target market. Build a list of 100–250 (depends on the size your industry) companies to connect with over the next 3–6 months. Connect with every one of them on LinkedIn, and send a message. Or use something like Email Hunter (costs a bit of money) or Rapportive (free) to mine their email address. Send a personalize email explaining who you are and why you think it makes sense to chat. Follow up, follow up, follow up. (pro tip: if you have a Meetup you run, you have something you can invite the prospect to!)
  5. Find blog articles your customer’s are commenting on and engage directly with them. There are likely industry leaders in your space who create content. Take a look at their websites and social media pages. Connect with the people commenting the most on those pages. Share that you have a mutual interest and that you would be interested in discussing how you could help each other out.

I find that if I have something I can always invite people to that is free or really cheap ($25 or less), I have a way to offer value to them. For me, it’s my company Dinner Dialogues. We host regular events for growth-oriented people and provide great food and drink.

Anytime I meet someone new, I invite them to this event. It’s a great way to establish a relationship based on value first, so that you can do business together second. It’s also a way for people to see that I enjoy offering value to others, and helping connect others as well.

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