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You have a startup that’s going to change the world, but how do you get people to notice? By this point, you’ve probably figured out that the old adage “Build it and they’ll come” is bad advice and you are looking at ways to get some growth.

Rightfully so. Growth or Traction is one of the most important things to any business. It is especially paramount to a startup. So much so that Paul Graham, the co-founder of Y Combinator once wrote an essay titled ‘Startup = growth’.

In it, he stressed the importance of growth as the ultimate hallmark of a startup as compared to other small businesses. Growth is so important that any other factors can be justifiably ignored just to focus on growth alone not because the other things aren’t important but because they are relatively easy to solve once you have growth.

In this guide, we’ll look at 12 different ways to generate buzz around your product or idea and get it in front of as many people as possible.

1. Virality

Virality is a term you’ve probably heard thrown around a lot, but what does it mean?

This is when your product is Circulated rapidly and widely from one user to another. There are 2 ways to take advantage of this phenomenon. Creating viral content about your startup/product (aka content marketing which you can read about here) and your product spreading virally itself. We’ll start with the former.

Creating viral content

viral content

Viral content is content that spreads quickly—think “Gangnam Style” or Keyboard Cat.

Viral content tends to be catchy and unique, so it’s important to create something that people can’t help but share with their friends. Here are some ideas:

Take an old idea and give it a new twist—or vice versa. For example, if you were making a parody video about famous pop songs from the ’80s, make sure your lyrics aren’t just cleverly written; they also need to make sense in context with the original song (just like Weird Al Yankovic did).

Make something educational or informative in an entertaining way. This has been done successfully by BuzzFeed and The Onion before—as long as your piece isn’t too dryly written (like Wikipedia), people will appreciate having something both useful and fun!

Create interactive content like quizzes or games. You’ll have better luck getting people’s attention if they think they’re playing along with you rather than simply reading through your text-heavy post!

Making Your Product go Viral

Most people think getting this type of growth is simply a matter of adding a share button on the home page of their website. After all, if the product is good enough, people will want to tell their friends right? Umm no.

That’s not how it works at all. People are hardly ever moved to share a particular product regardless of how good it is. A better way to go about this is to incentivize the sharing. This is only effective when done right.

The most common example of this is PayPal which literally paid people to get new signups with money. Don’t worry, you don’t have to burn through millions of dollars to achieve a similar result.

You can reward people with what you already have that is your product or service.  For example, Dropbox used to give people more storage in return for sharing. If your product has a free trial, you can extend it and you can also provide access to premium features.

However, you have to be careful not to alienate your existing user base by making them think you are hiding something of value behind a paywall. That brings us to the best way of achieving viral growth.

Michael Seibel said it best in a talk when he said using should equal sharing. What this means is that if you can make it such that people cannot effectively use your product without sharing it somehow.

For example, dating sites and social media sites have this trait. To get the most out of Facebook, you have to tell your friends somehow. This also has an added benefit of network effects because the product becomes more valuable, the more people use it. Airbnb and Uber also used this or some variant.

2. Publicity

This when you get published in some news publication or something else with a large audience in order to rouse public interest and awareness of your product. Publicity is a great way to build buzz and awareness for your product. It can also generate leads, increase sales, and help you become a thought leader in your industry.

If you have a good story that’s worth sharing with the world—and if you follow the advice below—publicity will be an effective means of getting traction.

Most people assume some kind of PR firm is required for this but that’s not the case. One thing to keep in mind is that it is a reporter’s job to look for stories and you can help them along by giving them yours and you don’t need a PR firm for this.

The one thing PR firm do have that you don’t is connections but the good news you can build them yourself. Here’s how to go about it:

Creating Connections
  • Prepare in advance. You can do this by reading publications covering your niche and seeing the kind of things they are interested in. You should also use this time to clearly define your goals and your target audience
  • Reach out. The best way to do this is through warm intros from people in your personal network. If you can’t do this cold outreach will do although it won’t convert as well. If you are going to send any form of cold outreach, make sure it is polite and to the point.
  • Build a relationship. This can be done by offering exclusives and scoops on other stories. It is much better to have one strong relationship with a journalist than to have a dozen weak ones. Make sure to follow up and show your gratitude if you get the press. For more on this you can read How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.
  • Evaluate. Because you set clear goals in the first stage, you should measure the impact of the publicity that you got that is, increase in sales or any other metric of your choosing. This is important in determining whether or not your time (you shouldn’t spend any money) was well-spent.

Just for good measure, here are some things you shouldn’t do:

  • Lie. I assume this is obvious but nobody likes a liar and reporters are no exception. If you lie to a journalist, they won’t wanna work with you again and they’ll make sure to tell their peers. This may sound like a cliché but the truth does have a way of coming out and biting you in the ass – think Theranos
  • Act entitled. You must follow up but don’t act entitled because this might put some people off and cause them to drop your story altogether. Remember they don’t owe you anything.
  • Suggest headlines or copy. I’m not gonna say much about this except nobody wants to be told how to do their job.
  • Ask to see a draft. This may be construed as an affront to their journalistic integrity and some publications have policies against this. However, if they ask you to look at a draft – perhaps for fact- checking reasons- you should not decline

3. SEO

seo snippet

SEO is a long-term strategy that requires patience. It’s not the right fit for every business, but if you’re looking to build an audience and generate traffic to your website over time, it’s a great way to go.

You can use SEO techniques like keyword research and content marketing to attract visitors that are more likely to buy from you in the future. These strategies also help increase brand awareness by getting your name out there on top search engines such as Google or Bing.

A word of warning – this strategy is less about gaming the Google algorithm and more about creating quality content that search engines will want to put in front of people

4. Offline ads

Offline advertising aka traditional advertising is exactly how it sounds, any form of advertising that is not on the internet.

There are many types of offline advertising such as print ads and direct mail pieces, Radio, TV, and billboards. In the digital age these tend to be looked down upon but they have their advantages. They’re relatively cheap and easy to run for small businesses.

You can target specific demographics or locations geographically with this type of marketing—for example, if you’re targeting a particular neighborhood in Chicago, then print or radio ads might be a better option than TV advertising because they’ll reach people who live nearby.

However, there are some drawbacks too. They don’t always have the same level of precision as online advertising, although it’s possible to target audiences by location using other means like billboards in certain neighborhoods and TV ads on specific time slots.

As far as “going viral” goes…not likely! You’ll also need to spend some time designing your own creative assets rather than relying on stock images from Pexels or Shutterstock…but if this doesn’t bother you too much then check out our guide on how to create high quality print ads that convert!

5. Influencer marketing

This is when you use individuals with large audiences be it a blog or a large social media following. Influencer marketing remains the biggest opportunity for getting traction, but it’s also the most difficult to execute.

The reason is that there are no clear rules or best practices when it comes to influencers. What works for one company won’t necessarily work for another.

If you want to use influencer marketing, then here are some of my tips:

Don’t underestimate the power of social media—most people think that they should be able to find influencers through Google searches or LinkedIn connections alone. But social media is where many brands start when searching for new customers, so why not start there?

Don’t overspend on influencers—influencer marketing can be incredibly effective if done right, but it isn’t a budget-friendly option unless you have millions of dollars at your disposal and relationships with celebrities who will promote your products without charging a penny (or any other currency).

6. Search engine marketing

Search engine marketing (SEM) is a low-cost way to drive traffic to your website. The SEMSearch engine ads are highly efficient and measurable and you could easily target a certain demographic. Leveraging the search engines’ massive audience and popularity, SEM can help propel your business forward.

The key to successful SEM is understanding how Google, Bing, and other search engines work so you can optimize your website for their algorithms in order to get high rankings on their listings.

7. Social media marketing

Social media marketing is a great way to build relationships with your audience and let them know that you care about their opinions. It’s also a great way to market your product or service, especially if you can find an influencer who is willing to promote it for free.

Once you identify your target audience, post content relevant to them. For example, if my target audience were people aged 25-35 who work in marketing, I would post articles about trends in social media marketing or best practices for creating compelling content on Twitter.

Content from these sources would be relevant because it would help them do their jobs better and further their careers by advancing their skillset as a marketer through personal development of knowledge around these topics.

If I wanted my posts on social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter (and others) shared by more people, which has the potential benefit of increasing visibility for both myself and my business/brand then hashtags are what I should use!

These are words preceded by a “#” symbol that allow users to mark something they find interesting so anyone searching those terms will see what was originally posted along with all those other things marked similarly.

8. Community building

community building

One of the most important things you can do for your business is to build a community. A group of people who share your goals and values, that you can rely on for support and advice. It can be as simple as a Facebook group or a sub-Reddit

The best way to build a community? First, make sure it’s something you actually care about. If it’s just another checkmark on your list of “things I’m supposed to be doing,” no one will take interest in it—and even if they do sign up, they’ll quickly lose interest when they realize that this isn’t really something that interests them or helps their lives at all (and then you’ll have an empty room full of nothing).

But if what you’re building is an extension of yourself, something that truly matters deeply to you—then people will want in!

How do we know this? Because communities are built around passion; they’re not built around products or services. People join communities because they want to feel like part of something bigger than themselves; some kind of social belonging or sense of collective purpose brings them closer together than any product could ever hope for—even if the product itself is pretty great too! The Airbnb host network is a great example of this.

9. Sales

This is another traction opportunity that tends to be looked down upon, especially by techie types but it can be extremely powerful especially if your product is B2B.  

Selling is a skill and like any other skill, it takes practice. When you’re just starting out, you might feel that you’re not very good at selling. You can easily improve by asking for feedback after each interaction with a customer so that as time goes by things get better and better!

But if you can’t sell then don’t stress about it—it doesn’t make sense to hire sales people until the product has proven itself and there are enough customers who want it. Instead of worrying about making a sale right now, focus on making sure that when someone becomes interested in your product or service they receive good customer service from someone who listens carefully to their needs and answers questions thoroughly.

Then when they decide to buy something from you it will feel less like an imposition or interruption because they know exactly what they need and why they need it (or why not).

10. Biz-dev

Business development is a process of finding new opportunities for your company. It’s the way you get your product in front of people who may not know about it or have yet to incorporate it into their existing business.

Business development is about setting up strategic partnerships with other companies and organizations, whether they’re competitors or complementary businesses that can you grow.

It’s important to remember that getting traction is not just about marketing—it’s also about getting your product into the hands of customers who need it. If you’re struggling with this step, try thinking through what type of partnership would be mutually beneficial to both parties involved.

If your product is physical, you can set up partnerships with retailers and if you have a mobile app, a partnership with an app store will be beneficial.

11. Events and speaking engagements

Events and speaking engagements are an effective way to get your product in front of people. You can do it yourself, or you can hire an agency. Do it in person (at conferences, meetups, and seminars) or online (via webinars).

You can do it with free events or paid ones. And you can even do these events on behalf of your own company or someone else’s business—it’s all up to you!

The best part about this method? It doesn’t cost anything but time and effort to get started…

12. Word of mouth

This is by far the best way to get growth simply because it’s so organic. Word of mouth is one of the most powerful ways to get traction. If someone loves your product or service, they’ll tell their friends about it. They’ll post about you on social media and write positive reviews online.

But before you can harness that power for yourself, there are a few things you need to take care of first:

You need to have something worth talking about. Your customers must be able to see how you’re better than your competitors in some way (you can do this by adding gimmicky features)—and if they don’t understand what makes you different from the beginning, then word-of-mouth won’t help out much at all!

Make it easy for people to talk about you. Create a landing page where visitors can sign up for updates from your company and share content through social media channels like Facebook and Twitter with just one click on each platform (if possible).

Or integrate features directly into the site itself so that users can easily share recommendations within their own social networks without leaving their browser windows open anymore than necessary-this will make sure everyone who visits has an easy way out when they’re ready!

Conclusion: You need to be able to get your product in front of people before they will start using it or paying for it.

It is impossible to sell a product that no one knows about. You need to be able to get your product in front of people before they will start using it or paying for it. How you do this depends on your product, but there are many options.

That’s the end of our list, which is by no means comprehensive, but we hope it helped you to see what’s possible for your product. These are just some of the strategies that have been proven to get traction for new products and companies.

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