10 Offbeat Ways to Grow Your Business

Here’s the good news for startups trying to scale in today’s crowded and often expensive marketing world: there’s no magic bullet that you have yet to trigger. According to Sujan Patel, the so-called “growth marketer” and cofounder of businesses like ContentMarketer.io and Narrow.io, the trick to gain traction and grow your business is a lot of trial and error.

“You have to figure it out for yourself,” Patel, the self-described “Ryan Seacrest of technology,” told the Traction conference in Vancouver.

That may sound discouraging, but Patel says you can hack through it with a lot of testing.“Rapid-pace testing is going to help you to 10x your business,” Patel says.

He offered up 10 tactics for startups to try to speed up growth:

1. Survey your customers.

Use a net promoter score (NPS) offered by companies such as Asknice.ly and Satismeter.com. Ask customers how likely is they’ll recommend you to friends. The NPS number itself doesn’t matter, Patel says. It’s what’s in the feedback box. Brands should pay particular attention to the feedback in the lower scores. They should also encourage those giving the higher scores to provide testimonials – then use them to promote the brand.

2. Thank your customers.

Sounds easy, but too often brands focus on trying to land new customers rather than being grateful to existing ones. “It’s cheaper and way more effective to get customers from your customers, the people that are walking, living testimonials from them,” Patel says. “At the end of the day, people are buying from other people. Human to human interaction gets lost on the web … Be human. Be genuine.”

3. Thank your customer in real life.

“The Internet isn’t the only place where a transaction happens,” Patel says. He recommends thank-you cards as a way to reach out to customers off screen. If your penmanship isn’t up to par, you can cheat the process by using online tools that write and send cards.

4. Share everything you know.

Patel recommends creating a community around customers. That means sharing updates about the company, or issues that matter to it, through social channels.

Patel has been known to share his insights and updates in Slack groups. “All we do is share and help each other out. That’s the key to community.”

5. Build real relationships with community.

“Step away from the computer,” every once in awhile, Patel says. In the past, he has hosted dinners in cities where he’s spoken at conference, including in Vancouver. “Don’t be afraid to take that offline action.”

6. Let your customers write your copy.

Use feedback to generate content. It’s a good way get authentic stories about your brand — and target messages you know will resonate with consumers/users.

7. Ask your customers to spread the word.

Don’t beat around the bush. If you want happy customers to talk up your brand, ask them to tweet about it, like you on Facebook or post pictures on Instagram.

8. Create resources for customers.

It might be an ebook, an employee handbook or online tools to help customers get more information on how to use your product or services. It’s not only a cheap way to bring in customers, but boosts engagement.

9. Educate your customers.

This goes with No. 8. Maybe they don’t how to use what you’re selling. Teach them. For example, if you’re a content marketing company — tell them what it means, how it works and how they’ll benefit.

10. SWAG your customers

Everyone loves free stuff. It’s even better when they use it, and unknowingly (or perhaps knowingly) promote your brand. Patel did this with T-shirts, which one of his companies gave away to thousands of people over Facebook and then later with personalized notes. Those takers then started wearing the T-shirts to meetings with big-name companies like Intuit and Salesforce.com, which helped to boost its name recognition.

While brands focus a lot of B2B and B2C, Patel says the real focus needs to be H2H: Human-to-human.

“There are all of these acronyms, but there are human beings behind all of them,” he says. “Never forget that.”