Don’t have a Coca-Cola size budget for marketing? It doesn’t mean you can’t direct attention to your business. I first drafted this list of ways I’ve marketed Styleta
without spending money for Tory Johnson’s Spark & Hustle conference
in conjunction with the Massachusetts Conference for Women
in December this year, since I’ll be speaking at the bootcamp. I then gave a talk on this for an informal Start-Up Chile
meetup on marketing. After getting great feedback, I’m now posting this list of ways you can advance your company without money so hopefully you can get the attention you need to get your own company off the ground!
- Networking with media – whether through Twitter, HARO (Help A Reporter Out – a great resource to find reporters looking for stories), events, etc, getting connected with reporters interested in your story is key for getting publicity for any events, launches, online competitions, etc. Styleta has been featured in Glamour, People Stylewatch, Seventeen, InStyle, Teen Vogue and others, while Gym-Pact has been featured in the Boston Globe, NY Times Freakonomics Blog, UK Independent, NPR, Atlantic Monthly, Good.is, Next Web to name a few.
- Tapping into alumni networks – Harvard’s network is great, but tons of schools have amazing alumni in your field who are happy to give you a hand. For Styleta, I built my list of advisers from the alumni list. For Gym-Pact, while in Santiago for Start-Up Chile, I have had meetings with corporate partners, potential investors and advisers just by emailing my alumni list.
- Creating opportunities for evangelism – When your users love you, make it easy for them to tell their friends and reward them for that. Gym-Pact incorporates groups, free days and other rewards for people to refer our product to friends and family. Also, we make it easy for people to get involved in building our business – from easy feedback loops on our website and mobile app, to letting them help us build our database of gyms. Crowdsourcing is key to building something huge on a budget.
- Create a little controversy – The easiest way for something to go viral is if there’s something to talk about, so create a debate to get people talking. Gym-Pact’s blunt, cheeky and counter-intuitive message of paying when you DON’T get to the gym amplified our media exposure and made a lasting impression on readers.
- Following and getting to know key influencers – for Styleta this was fashion bloggers, for Gym-Pact it is fitness bloggers and personal trainers. Styleta’s Student Designer Challenge and Style Fusion on the Runway show in NYC could not be as big without bloggers behind us.
- Speaking opportunities – like Spark & Hustle, Harvard’s Intercollegiate Business Convention, NY & Boston Fashion Week, pitching to Jason Calacanis on This Week in Startups (and getting him to sign up to be a beta user of Gym-Pact!). I am a personal evangelist for my business everywhere I go!
- Sponsored events – It’s amazing how many things you can get for free if you operate under that mindset. Styleta has had multiple 250+ people, capacity-filled events on just $50-150 budgets. Get local sponsors with a key stake in your audience to sponsor everything from venue, equipment, volunteers, food & drink, etc.
- Don’t forget your friends! – It’s a bit tricky to navigate between tapping into your personal network and overselling to your friends, but if you keep it infrequent, targeted, and low-pressure, there are tons of people in your own personal network who are willing to “Like”, vote, tweet, sign-up, comment, share or otherwise support your ventures. Styleta’s and Gym-Pact’s mailing lists both started with 150 friends and grew from there.
- Exchange campaigns – sharing your audience with other similar organizations and vice versa. Styleta did a “Keep or Donate” campaign with Fashism.com and banner exchanges with blogs. Gym-Pact is doing the same with our fitness prize sponsors, exchanging marketing for goods. Find out what you have to offer and give something to get something in return, especially with organizations with similar missions or audiences.
- SEO – I’m not an expert so any tips you have would be great!
So I promised a lot of people that I’d post pictures and stories of Santiago. After a week without regular access to email – the silence from lack of iPhone alerts was both irking and oddly peaceful – I’m back online, almost back on track with life, and have some time to post first impressions.
After making it off the plane with over 150 lbs of luggage each, Geoff and I made it to Giselle’s house, then to the Start-Up Chile office. Imagine 140 entrepreneurs crammed into one floor of a high-rise – craziness abound and wireless internet strains under the burden. But it’s been great to meet everyone! We’re from all over the globe with companies as diverse as apartment renting, sanitation tech, photoshare and us – fitness.
Meanwhile, at Giselle’s house, we have been getting an awesome dose of Chilean hospitality. From Sr. Huerta’s antics with the heirloom riding cape to Pache, the cutest and possibly tiniest dog in the world, to delicious fresh meals prepared by Carmen, we’ve felt right at home in our new country.
Meanwhile, we also took two hikes to see a panoramic view of Santiago – one near Lo Barnechea in the suburbs and one with the Start-Up Chile crowd up Cerro San Cristobal, the Central Park of Santiago. The views were stunning, despite the pretty terrible smog.
So overall, not a bad week. Spanish is improving all around thanks to the difficult real estate market. Can’t wait to move into our SWEET apartment this week and add some pictures. What can you rent for $550 per month in Santiago? Get ready to be jealous Boston and NYC folks 🙂
I’ve always been interested in the characteristics of successful people, and I’ve read books from Outliers to Bounce to Everyday Survival, but a great article in Women’s Health caught my eye today. While other books have touted intelligence, practice or instincts as the keys to success, this article says it’s grit that makes a difference. How do they define grit? According to Angela Duckworth from the University of Pennsylvania, “Grit entails working strenuously toward challenges and maintaining effort and interest despite failure, adversity, and plateaus.” That sounds a lot like getting through a hard workout, or even getting your butt to the gym itself!
There are a ton of tips in the article on how to train yourself to have grit, but I wonder whether something like Gym-Pact might help those who really don’t start out with much grit (including yours truly) to even kick-start that learning process. What do you think?
This past Saturday, I was able to spend the day with Tory Johnson, ABC Good Morning America workplace contributor and female entrepreneur extraordinaire, and the amazing women (and men!) of the Boston Spark & Hustle conference. As the Q&A Keynote on Saturday morning, I was able to share some of my experience as the founder of Styleta and Gym-Pact. I was pretty nervous the night before, since it was my first time being a conference keynote, but Tory was amazing at guiding me with the questions. The audience questions were also fun to answer and gave me some great ideas for both startups!
I stayed the rest of the day to listen to the other speakers and definitely learned a ton. Here are some great tips I learned.
From Dan Schawbel, personal branding guru:
- Update those online profiles – yes I mean Facebook too! I’ve seen plenty of FB profiles of recent grads that still seem to say they are students. For me, I definitely need to do some work on my FB and LinkedIn.
- Leverage small successes to get bigger ones, especially in media features. Got covered or wrote for a local newspaper? Put it in your bio and keep adding to it. I’m going to update by bio to include media mentions!
- What to read: Mashable and ReadWriteWeb
- Have 3 soundbites rehearsed that you must share with reporter no matter what questions they ask. Good advice that I wish I had heard before my interviews!
- PitchEngine – social press releases
- Always say thank you to the reporter, and offer additional content to build the relationship
- People have different preferred communication methods – if they’re not responding to emails or calls, try Twitter, FB or texting.
- Break that mental barrier between personal and business contacts, and don’t be afraid of telling people what you do for a living!
- Become an expert, the go-to person on a specific topic
- Listen for people’s needs and give before you get
Got other tips? I’d love to hear them!
I used to run 5k’s pretty often when I played lacrosse in high school. Back then, three miles was no problem, didn’t even get out of breath. I fell off the wagon a bit in college when time was short and I had to choose between a run and getting that reading done for class (believe me, the reading-on-elliptical skills you build at Harvard are pretty amazing). That’s why I’m pretty psyched to be running the Solar Empowerment 5k that my company Gym-Pact is sponsoring. The proceeds go toward building energy technology for Mali villages.
Results: 26:09 time, 54th place! Some pictures of my day: