Updated: Mar 18
As a small business there is always a tightrope to walk when reinvesting to create more growth.
This was something I struggled with in the early days of building an innovative language academy. We didn’t have the resources for marketing of any kind and we didn’t want to create debt. We were in the product/market fit stage and weren’t sure how things would pan out.
The business eventually grew thanks to referrals. Better put, we grew thanks to authenticity, great service and results. Our open and honest conversations with clients about expectations, client experience and price, created strong relationships which form the foundation of any referral business.
We have built and developed this over the years and while it’s not exponential growth, it's consistent and stable, (you don't hear many people bragging about that anymore do you?).
Or what I now like to call "Give a sh!t about people marketing" which is not even 'marketing'. Over the years we built such good relationships with people because we truly cared about them, their results and progress. People feel this. Consequently, we grew our community to thousands of followers and affiliates and several hundred recurring customers per month. We realised how much potential lay inside our community, so instead of looking for marketing hacks and paying to create new leads, we turned our attention inwards.
We focused on:
More regular and better quality conversations with our members and students
Creating more value and connection for people in our world
Listening to their feedback
Making it easier for them to involve friends
Making platforms and systems more simple and easier to use
Reconnecting with past clients without self-interest
With internal marketing, you have more control over the input and because it’s personal, real and human to human, it usually yields better long-term results. This isn’t always music to an entrepreneur’s ears because it’s manual labour and takes time and energy. There are some ways to automate this but nothing will ever replace a true, authentic conversation between people who genuinely care.
If you want to build a business by referral, you have to care about the people involved. Period.
I’m not saying outbound marketing doesn’t work, it clearly does. Major companies spend millions every year to position their product and brand as close to perfect as possible.
Is that the right move for you? Maybe. Depends on your business and goals.
For our language academy, we threw some money at social media ads and campaign managers all to little avail. They either weren’t a good fit for us, or us for them and the result was the same: time and money spent without the desired results. It’s not always as easy as the gurus make out.
The important takeaway here is to decide what’s right for you, your business and goals and as with all marketing, it requires planning, testing and iterating in order to yield positive results.
What's your next step going to be to grow your business?
How much do you really care about your clients and team?
Love, success, creation,
PS Have a track record of success as a solopreneur or corporate leader but feel like something is missing?
When you are ready, let's explore how to create your vision.