If you are just starting your business, can you really grow your list, your reach, your sales without investing into advertising and paid traffic? How can you leverage your time and available free resources and tools to start growing your business, so that you can have more money to re-invest back? Let’s talk about it!
When you are starting a business, it sometimes feels like a chicken-and-egg situation right? You need money to invest into tools, systems, training to put your online business together. Then you need to invest into traffic to promote your business and get some income. Then you can re-invest some of the income to get even more traffic and sales. And the process continues.
But what should you do if you have no income yet, or if the income your business makes is still very low? How can you break the circle and kick-start the sales machine?
One of my Virtual Marketing Academy members has recently asked me:
as someone who is growing my marketing list is there a good way to accelerate the growth without throwing money at it?
So here’s my answer.
Without throwing money (on ads) to accelerate the growth you will need to throw the time in (but strategically). This means leveraging other people’s platforms who already have an audience they can send over your way. This happens in three key ways:
1. Affiliate Promotions
You have an affiliate relationship with the other business where they promote your products and services in order to get a commission. However to be an effective affiliate for you they need to believe in what you do, and it should be complementary for what they offer themselves.
From the technical side, you will need an affiliate tracking system if you sell products and services online. This system will provide each of your affiliates with a unique tracking link that they use to send people your way.
Your system then knows exactly who referred you each lead and each sale, can calculate how much commission is due for each affiliate on sales (while subtracting refunds) and give you and your affiliate clear and concise earnings reports.
Affiliate marketing will work if you have online products to sell like ecourses, ebooks, software. Affiliates can then expect to get a high volume of commissions back by sending you a lot of traffic.
However if you are selling 1-2-1 services and are limited to how many clients you can work with at one time, affiliate marketing is unlikely to work well for you.
I have an affiliate program for my business where you can earn up to 50% commission on promoting my digital products and courses to your audience. You can sign up here if you are interested.
2. Strategic Partnerships
Partnerships are mutually beneficial relationships between you and a select few other businesses: you send traffic and goodwill their way, they do the same for you. You may or may not pay each other commissions or introduction fees.
However when you are first getting started it’s difficult to get a high-profile business partner to promote your business and send their clients your way. You will need to recommend yourself in some way – either by doing some discounted work for them first, or by having a proven track record, or by someone else recommending you and introducing you to this high-profile business.
For example, one of the clients I’ve worked with was happy with our service. So she then referred two of her business friends to us. One of them referred another client. And that’s how by doing a small project (but well) we ended up with 3 more premium clients!
But if you can’t find (yet) that high-profile business to partner up with you and promote you, start small. Look for other newer businesses, form your own mastermind group, start helping out and referring each other. Your local networking groups might also help with building these strategic relationships over time.
3. Provide Value to Their Community
Finally you do something for the other business in exchange for some promotion and visibility: host a webinar teaching their audience something, contribute content to their ecourse or membership site, write an article for their blog, speak at their event or podcast.
If you provide valuable information and insights in your content, some of their audience will want to learn more about you (usually you will supply a short bio with a link back to your site) after reading/consuming, therefore they will go to your platform – site, landing page, webinar, optin. Here, if they see a good offer (lead magnet) that interests them and promises to solve some of the problems or challenges they have, they will join your email list.
Make sure that wherever you are sending traffic to on your platform has the ability for visitors to join your email list, that’s clearly presented and positioned. Do not send traffic to your Facebook page to just get “likes”. Likes aren’t real leads and you will then end up paying again to Facebook to reach those fans with your posts.
You can create several valuable blogs and articles per week (it all depends on the time you have). Every time you get published somewhere important it also improves your SEO ranking by giving a back-link from a higher authority website, and adds authority to your brand by saying you’ve been “mentioned at XYZ”.
But a word of caution here.
Research carefully which sites, blogs, podcasts and platforms are worth for you to approach to pitch your content. As you want to maximise the visibility of your content in front of your target audience, your ideal clients, not just anyone online who cares to read it.
Finally… Is It Worth It?
Now does it all sound like a lot of work? Maybe your business is a 5-9, side hustle enterprise and you don’t have much time to write content and pitch other bloggers. Or writing content and creating videos/podcasts just isn’t your “thing”.
That’s why Ryan Deiss from Digital Marketer (where I got certified to build sales funnels and manage advertising campaigns), as well as many other industry leaders, says that traffic today is a commodity.
Your time is worth MORE than what you will pay for traffic, provided that you have a well-planned sales funnel that can convert traffic into sales quickly.
What he means is this. If you need some sugar, you are not going to buy land, buy seeds, plant, grow, learn farming, all in order to get sugar for you and your family. You will go to the store and buy it.
And if you run a cake shop – you will buy sugar and flour, make cakes, sell cakes. This will pay back for your ingredients so you can go and buy more sugar and flour, and make more cakes.
If you are calculating your costs and prices correctly this process will work each time. If you’ve overpaid for sugar, or undercharged for your cakes – you will make a loss.
Same applies to traffic cost. If your funnel is profitable, then for each $1 or £1 you invest into traffic you will be able to get at least twice that amount back in sales. Therefore you can reinvest the $1 back and keep the other $1 as your profit.
But – what if your business doesn’t work like this?
Then book a free Marketing Discovery call with me here and let’s work out what’s stopping the traffic-to-money flow for you, and how you can fix it.
Over To You…
What do you think about these 3 ways to grow your list without investing in paid traffic? Have you tried any successfully?
Or do you agree with Ryan that treating traffic as a commodity is far more worthwhile approach to grow your business quickly?
Let me know in comments below.