Every day there is a new startup born – and another one that has died. They come in all shapes and sizes, but there is one thing that all the successful ones have in common… They have all experienced significant growth. It’s gone from a buddy in the basement with an idea to a team of talented people turning that vision into a reality. However, there is sometimes a misperception that successful startups have to be based on some golden idea that is going to revolutionize the world, but this is not inherent to a successful business. It doesn’t matter if your business cleans toilets or makes laser guns from space crystals – the fact is that a startup will be successful if they are solving a real problem and providing value to their customers. 90% of most startups fail because there is no market need for what they are offering. This means that if you have something that is actually worth selling – then you only have to overcome all of the other challenges to starting a successful business 😉 Easy, right? One challenge that many startups face is a capacity to scale. They might have a great product, they might have a killer team in place, but they are just unable to turn on that marketing juice and take their tiny team to the big leagues. Enter —> Growth Hacks! This article will provide you with some actionable advice that can help you jump start your business, boost lead generation, and grow your bottom line. We’ve consulted some successful entrepreneurs and marketing experts to get their best insights – let’s get to the meat! 1. Build Strategic Partnerships and Relationships No person can work in isolation. There is always an exchange. Whether it’s between team members working towards a common goal or between a company and its customers – it takes people to make something happen. With this in mind – you should never consider your startup with an “Us vs. Them” mentality. Yes – there are direct competitors out there, but there are also many businesses who are not competitors, yet they still share the same target audience. Consider this… One company with a hundred customers has a small, loyal, base of clients – but they are having a hard time finding new customers. Just down the road – there are nine other companies in the exact same position. None of these companies are competitors, but they all share a similar type of customer. Through some simple (and cheap!) networking – these companies can tap into each other’s customer bases and there you have… a growth hack with 10x potential! “The single most effective accelerator for growth is creating brand partnerships with peers who have relevant audiences,” Erik Fabian from Upright Brand says. “I think of this as climbing a wall without a ladder, because it is a lower cost strategy than paid advertising and more effective because it builds a more authentic relationships with your fans.” So How Do You Do It? It’s fairly simple: Identify a few companies or brands of comparable size to yours with similar audiences Reach out and start a conversation with them. Determine strategic methods to introduce each other to their audiences. “You might do something like co-host an event, feature each other in your respective blogs, or launch a product offering together,” Fabian advises. “If all goes well repeat and grow together!” 2. Relentless Email Outreach Almost every startup has a computer and internet access. If you are working on a project that doesn’t – please leave a comment below – I am genuinely interested to hear what you are working on! However, for everyone else – email outreach is a simple, repeatable, and effective, growth strategy. The simple fact is that you can’t just sit back and expect people to discover you. Sometimes you need to get out there and rattle some cages, bang on some doors, kick cans down the street, or maybe even… a few well-planned emails to the right people! There are a 1000 ways to send an email, so to make this a little easier – here are 4 growth hacking email strategies: Backlink Building Campaigns For SEO “My number one growth hack for startups is to launch link building campaigns. Reach out to bloggers, influencers, organisations and businesses to acquire new backlinks that will send free referral and organic traffic to your website,” Gregory Golinski from YourParkingSpace advises. “In my opinion, creating good, optimized content isn’t enough to acquire new visitors. You need to spread the word about your website by building backlinks.” Here’s a helpful article on how to build backlinks with email outreach. Guest Post For Authority “Everyone keeps saying content is king but no one will see your content unless you promote it,” Jimmy Chan from Pixelicious says. “Besides, no one is interested in reading a small business’ blog. Content is valuable only if it comes from a trusted source, so start writing for other, much larger platforms and you will become a subject matter expert in no time!” Here’s an awesome guide on how to guest post anywhere. Build Relationships “For start ups – the best growth hack would be to invest time in outreach to network,” Namrata Bhawnani, Co-Founder of Ecophiles, says. “Building relationships is the best way to have people talking about your brand. Ultimately, brands that thrive, do so because they build strong, lasting relationships. Collaborations and partnerships are critical for steady growth.” Here’s a great template for building relationships by email. Pitch Press For Exposure Getting featured in the media can be a game changer for a young company – it can bring a ton of attention! However, you need to pitch with value if you want to be successful. Dmitry Dragilev, founder of JustReachOut.io, shares his two tips on how to pitch the right way! “Finding a way to be valuable to journalists is the best way to build relationships with them and eventually be featured in press. For example here are two of my favorite ways to do so: 1. Add a reference to an article by a journalist to your own blog post on your own blog. Answer a question on Quora and include a link to the spot where you reference the journalist’s article in your own blog post. Tweet and promote your Quora answer among friends to get a few upvotes. Email the journalist letting them know you promoted their article on Quora and ask if they have any feedback on your answer. RESULT: You’ve indebted them to help you in future perhaps, they’re grateful, you got a bit of promotion already through Quora. 2. Answer a HARO (HelpAReporter.com) request or a RadioGuestList request. These newsletters which come out multiple times a day every single day feature journalists who are writing an article or recording a podcast and need an expert to talk to them about a specific topic. This is the lowest hanging fruit! At JustReachOut we gather all of these requests on one place, for example if you search “entrepreneur” here are all the journalists who are looking to speak with an entrepreneur: http://justreachout.link/ent Add value to journalists without promoting what you’re working on and you’ll get a LOT more exposure through press vs. if you send out 100 pitches of “hi, I’m John and here is our product, can you cover us?”” 3. Join A Community And Provide Insane Value If you are looking to attract new attention then providing insane (and free!) value is a great way to connect with people outside of your network. “Startups should find a specific community that they are solving a problem for, and to go into that community and be incredibly helpful,” Stacy Caprio from Accelerated Growth Marketing advises. “They should answer all questions, build relationships, and become a recognized thought leader. Since they are a leader and have offered help, their action will be seen as helpful, not as marketing, and accepted by grateful individuals.” There are many ways to provide value to a community – here are a few ways you can start up today! Answer Quora Questions This is an incredibly easy way to join conversations with people who are actually asking questions related to what you do. “It’s a great place to find users at the bottom of the funnel and get actual qualified leads in for free,” Laure Albouy from Slite shares. “In three months, I’ve racked up 30K+ answer views and 800 answer upvotes in total. And today, we generate 50 qualified sign ups a week from Quora. It’s one of the best growth hacks I’ve tried because it delivers values in the long run, not just in one shot.” You can also track your results using the Google URL builder. Transform Common Questions Into Killer (and Rankable!) Content If your business has customers (we hope so!) – then you have probably started to notice some common questions pop up over and over. Cristian Rennella, founder of elMejorTrato.com, advises to forget about a boring ol’ FAQ section. “We receive more than 50 queries per day on different aspects of our service, but the vast majority are general questions, that the answer will not only help that user, but hundreds or thousands of people who have the same question,” Rennella says. “That is why, each question of a client we respond in a special way, dedicate time and effort to give a “perfect” answer. This response is not only sent to this user, but we publish it on our site as if it were a post on our blog.” This creates content that is super appealing to search engine results and makes it easy for potential customers to find valuable answers to their questions. “This mechanism of transforming the traditional questions and answers (FAQ) section in a blog where we published all our answers helped us to grow 34.7% in content marketing,” Rennella says. Create Data-Driven Content People crave content that is authentic and valuable. There is no better way to create content like that then by using data and evidence to backup your claims. Ville Salminen, CEO of Flixable, shares how he gave an audience content that they crave. “As a long-time online entrepreneur, I have seen time and again that publishing data-backed articles on popular subjects, such as movies and TV shows, is a powerful way to attract more visitors and more links to your website,” Salminen says. “We dived into Netflix’s old data, available to everyone, and published a piece on the changes in Netflix’s catalog. We produced a chart showing how Netflix’s catalog was significantly larger in 2010 than in 2018. Then we posted a link to a short article containing the chart to Reddit. It received 36,000 upvotes and links from The A.V. Club and Business Insider.” Great content like this will be referenced and shared over and over because it is relevant and useful to a huge group of people. 4. Leverage Your Existing Customer Base For many businesses, word of mouth provides some of the best business they can get. People trust their friends, family, and colleagues, for recommendations on many aspects of their lives. From hair cuts to financial advice, people look to each other for guidance. Don’t forget that your customers have friends and family (hopefully!) – and they are now part of your network 🙂 Tapping into your customer’s networks can be an incredible growth hack and there are a ton of ways to go about it. Here are 3 easy ways to jumpstart it! Straight Up – Ask For A Referral You might be surprised at how willing people are to help you – if you just ask! Dawn Verbrigghe, from Jottful, shares how she helped her company grow by asking for referrals from happy customers! “Ask for referrals from your most satisfied customers—don’t just sit back and hope for them,” Verbigghe says. “At Jottful, half of our business has come through referrals from happy customers, in part because we asked for them.” “First figure out who your biggest fans are by sending a Net Promoter Score survey to each of your customers. Those who the survey results identify as Promoters are the customers you want to contact,” Verbigghe advises. “Then, find a way to have a personal conversation with that customer and, before concluding, ask for the referral. Tell the customer who would make a good prospect for you and how they should make the connection.” Encourage User-Generated Content If you can encourage your customers to create and share content that is related to your brand – instant growth hack! “Brands can leverage user-generated content by starting micro campaigns on social media. This may involve a contest or a branded hashtag, where your customers post photos or videos on social media channels such as Instagram or Youtube,” John Surdakowski, from Avex Designs, says. “User-generated content can be an extremely effective growth hack, especially if the content that is being distributed is very “likable” and shareable. Content that is created by your customer base is also a very budget friendly way for a start-up to raise their brand awareness, while simultaneously engaging with their audience.” Invite Guest Posting On Your Site People that add content to your site are the types of people who will share links back to your site with their network. Matan Goldschmiedt, Head of Product at Pramp, shares how they leveraged this with their customers. “One thing we did at Pramp was sending all the recipients on our mailing list an email that invites them to write a blog post for us,” Goldschmiedt says. “From our end we’re offering exposure – ten thousands of viewers, quality backlinks, and the option to add another article that may help the writer establish themselves as an authority in their field.” “We’re not only generating good content, but we’re also leveraging the fact each of those writers will share a link to their piece on their social media profiles, which will gain us exposure through their readers, who are potential customers of Pramp.” If you have your own growth hacks to add – please leave a comment below to share with everyone! P.S. – Your value propositions can make or break your customer experience. Even with all of the growth hacks in the world, if your unique value propositions aren’t on point, you’re letting some of the wind out of your sails.