In a perfect world, if you had a good idea or product, people would be able to find it with ease, and they’d flock to you without anything standing in the way. Unfortunately, this isn’t how the world works; even if you have an amazing idea, you might not be able to connect with an initial audience for it without some help.
On the bright side, there are strategies you can use to create additional visibility for your brand early in the game.
The Popularity Threshold
When you launch a blog or business, you’ll initially be sending your messages into a void. Nobody will know you’re out there.
Eventually, you hope to build a big enough audience that you’ll start to generate popularity that compounds; in other words, once you hit a certain threshold (given a good enough idea, of course), you’ll start to become more popular by the sheer virtue of your existing popularity.
The challenge is how to seed the early stages of that popularity.
How to Get Started
How can you do this? Here are some ideas to get you started.
- Count on your friends and family. Relying on friends and family members may seem like a cop-out, but don’t underestimate the potential. If you know 10 people and each of them knows 10 other people, that’s a potential audience of 100 that may read your blog posts immediately and engage with you. You might even gain a referral or two just by asking your contacts if they know anyone who would be interested in your services. Sam Ovens, for example, is an entrepreneur who started to build what would become a $10 million business by relying on his friends and family members for initial connections.
- Start networking. Never underestimate the power of networking with strangers. Attend a few local networking events in your area, and get involved in groups on social media. Start introducing yourself everywhere you go and get to know people, even if it’s on a temporary basis. It won’t be long before you’ll run across someone who’s interested in your business or blog, whether as an active audience member or just a spectator.
- Build up a personal brand. Personal brands are amazing gateways to new visibility in online marketing. If you’re already writing blogs under your name, you’ll have a solid foundation to begin with. From there, you can develop your social media profiles, syndicate your content, and start engaging with individuals you come across on your social networks of choice. Proceed to develop your expertise in a specific area, and try to get featured as a guest poster on major publishing channels (preferably ones that relate to your brand or area of expertise).
- Rely on press releases. Press releases can be powerful tools of promotional material, and if your business or blog is just starting out, you have a perfect opportunity to take advantage of them. As long as you have a newsworthy event (such as a new business launching), you can write up an informative release on the subject and submit it through a syndication network like PR Newswire. At that point, hundreds to thousands of media outlets will have the option of publishing your material, which could earn you an initial audience of thousands (not to mention tons of new inbound links).
- Establish partnerships with existing brands. You could also try to ride the coattails of a brand that already exists as a powerful authority in your industry by partnering up. For example, if your company offers a service that complements one that many of your competitors offer, you could establish a mutual referral program and exchange blog posts to promote visibility on both sides. If you’re a blogger, you could exchange guest posting spots on another person’s blog to cross-promote each other’s work.
- Engage with influencers. In a similar vein, you can use influencer marketing tactics as a way to get a fast leg up for your brand or blog. In influencer marketing, the goal is to reach out and engage with an existing “social influencer”: someone who has thousands of followers and a reputation to match. The possibilities here are pretty open; you could collaborate on a piece of content, share each other’s content, or even engage in conversation online. In any case, even a casual mention could give you a major boost in visibility and dozens of new followers who might be interested in your brand.
- Invest in short-term advertising. Paid advertising can’t match the long-term return of a strategy like content marketing or search engine optimization (SEO), but it can function well as a short-term strategy. The return on investment (ROI) of paid advertising campaigns is generally positive if you spend enough time researching your audience and best practices. You’ll need some capital upfront, obviously, but platforms like Facebook and Google also have affordable options for businesses that are on a strict budget. Make the most of your ad spend, but don’t forget to invest in long-term strategies as well.
Independently or together, these strategies should generate a sizable initial audience from which to establish your brand. If you can generate even a few hundred to a few thousand followers in the early stages, you could establish a foundation large enough to carry you forward in your middle-stage marketing and advertising campaigns (and, one hopes, enough customers to drive a revenue stream).
Be patient and remain persistent, and eventually you’ll build the audience you seek.