My career as an entrepreneur began about 6 years ago, when I was a broke college student with an e-commerce site running out of my parents house alongside my brother who was still in high school. We didn’t have a physical office presence and I didn’t have a single penny to spend on marketing – thus every single sale came from free online channels.
Regardless of what type of industry you’re in, there is one absolute business truth: Acquiring new customers (e.g., for online businesses, getting new site visitors) is the single most important factor for success.
Fast forward to today, I went on to launch two more companies and I still spend most of my time crafting new ways to reach new customers for my startup. When it comes to PR and content marketing, here’s a look at five of my favorite tactics.
1. Research your closest competitors.
One of my personal favorite tools for this is an SEO tool called Majestic. One of its many great features is the ability to input a website and get a list of the sites that link to it. So run a quick scan of your competitors and see who is linking to them.
Pick out the blogs and publications you think would be a good fit for your company and outreach to the webmaster. Chances are if they linked to a competitor, they found that project or service useful to their readers. Take the opportunity to build a relationship with the site and explain how your product is different.
2. Conduct a site traffic analysis.
Where does your online traffic come from? Look specifically for product lists, blogs, or press that is already sending you traffic. It’s important to build stronger relationships with the sources that have already linked to you, so show them gratitude. Building a rolodex of webmasters, journalist, and blogger contacts is key.
3. Focus on blogger and influencer outreach.
Invite popular bloggers and influencers to share your content. With the rise of influencer marketing; this industry has become unfortunately more transactional so finding the right ones are key.
Don’t be too general either; be specific to your industry or niche. It’s not about their follower count, instead focus on their voice in the industry. Be genuine and authentic with your outreach. When you can spare it, incentivize your offer by including a giveaway or sample products. It’s worth the shot!
4. Dust off your alumni network.
Contact school alumni on LinkedIn or your schools alumni database, if one is accessible on-site, and leverage their advice and assistance. If you’ve still got access to that old .edu email address – use it!
You’ll be amazed to see where your fellow classmates have matriculated in the working world. Some may have found work at media outlets or companies that would benefit from your product or service. Don’t be afraid to renew that relationship and ask for an introduction. This requires a bit of effort; but its totally free and could produce some amazing results.
5. Pitch targeted media outlets.
Pinpoint a publication, and corresponding contributor or journalist and offer an exclusive story and access to your content, data or research that only you have access to. Help reporters and journalists look good; make their jobs easier by providing pre-packaged stories based on their program or editorial focus.
Part of being a good marketer is being a good student. This approach requires a fair amount of diligence. For example, keeping tabs on new journalists at publications is a good start. They are often more hungry for new topics and stories to cover; and they’re eager to build relationships too.
When you don’t have the money to spend on marketing; then the time becomes an even more valuable resource. Use it wisely and tactfully. Remember, in order to get value out – you must give value back.
This article has been edited and condensed.
P.J. Leimgruber is a digital marketing strategist, technical SEO consultant, and startup entrepreneur. He has worked with major companies such as Nissan USA, NBC Universal, Scripps Network, and Wal-Mart on various SEO and digital marketing ventures. He has co-founded two companies in the marketing space: Rank Executives, a boutique digital marketing firm in Orlando, Fl and NeoReach an enterprise cloud platform for influencer marketing management and search intelligence which has raised over 3 million in venture capital.
Connect with @misterpeej on Twitter.