How We Reached 614,000 New Potential Customers Organically Without Paying for It

The Power of Micro Influencer Marketing

Building customer trust is hard, but getting new customers to take the plunge and try your business for the first time is even tougher. While social media does give us lots of opportunities to shout from the rooftops about our brand, cutting through the clutter to find a loyal audience that is interested in what you have to say takes a lot of time, listening, and — money. That’s right, while Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter used to be powerful free tools, new algorithms mean that actually getting your message out to your core audience is going to cost you in ad spend. 

So how can a small business owner build trust and raise awareness about their brand on a budget? The solution may just be micro influencer marketing. In a nutshell, influencer marketing is the partnership between a brand and a social media user who has amassed a following and likes to spread the word about products and services to people who enjoy hearing from them. They do this in an organic way, highlighting their personal experience with the product or what they like most about the service, and then give it the tick of approval, encouraging their followers to try it for themselves. While many influencers have audiences well into the millions, micro-influencers can have followings of anywhere from 1,000 to 100,000 people - and that smaller audience can actually work to the brand’s advantage. 

When Journey builds influencer marketing programs for clients, we look for local influencers who have a following of 20,000 to 50,000 people and whose online profile, goals, and personality fit with the brand that we are working with. A recently executed campaign engaged 20 micro influencers with an average following of roughly 30,000 people. We invited them into our client’s business to experience their facility under a clear agreement that if they enjoyed it, they would tell their social media circles about it. The rave reviews by our selected influencers were seen by a collective audience of over 600,000 people in our client's local area, and we were able to grow our social media following by over 200%. The best part? We didn’t pay one single influencer to feature our client in their social media posts! Additionally, we now have a database of influential local people that we can rely on to help us promote our client organically and in a way cost effective way that makes their followers curious to try our client for themselves. 

Do you think micro influencer marketing might be for you? Find out how we can help.

20 Free (or Cheap!) Marketing Tips to Light Up Your Brand

20? Did you say 20? That's right, we've got a whole lot of inspiration and ideas to help you get your business groove on. So what are you waiting for? Get to it!


What’s the best way to start a business with no marketing budget? Create a suite of branded assets that you own and control. A website, various social media channels, a blog, a podcast, a YouTube channel or video blog, a newsletter or an event series can help you get your product or service out to the world at no, or a relatively low, cost. The key is to pick a few and do them well and regularly. You want to build an audience of dedicated, loyal purchasers, not a massive and passive fan base.


Don't assume people know what your business is all about. Just because you live and breathe it doesn't mean everyone else does. Give your customers, followers and fans a monthly refresher to remind them about who you are and what you do.


Need help finding customers? Make sure YOU are where THEY are. There are a whole slew of online websites and forums connecting small businesses to consumers, from Yelp to Thumbtack to Angie’s List to HomeAdvisor, and let’s not forget Facebook, Google+, Instagram and other social media platforms. Not ready to spend a heap of cash to get started? Many of these services offer the ability to create a free profile, so even if you’re not yet able to maximize the opportunity via advertising, you can still be found and contacted by potential customers. 


Many small business owners want to know how much they should be spending on marketing. There is no hard and fast rule but we like to suggest at least 10% of revenue should go to marketing for established businesses, while start-ups should think about investing upwards of 20% or more. The key is to put your analytics to the test so you can invest more into what’s working and say sayonara to what’s not.


Want to get more online reviews? Ask for them! You probably have tons of satisfied customers who would be happy to write you a testimonial, but guess what? They’re busy! It’s up to you to remind them. After each transaction, send a follow-up email to your customers thanking them for their business and include a link to your Facebook, Yelp or Google page. A simple, “if it’s not too much trouble” can go a long way in helping you build your business.


Every small business owner knows that it’s cheaper and easier to retain customers than to find new ones. So treat your customers like gold and add value in ways they can appreciate. See an article that a customer might be interested in? Give them a heads up. Come across an event you think might be a fit? Send it over. Have an idea that might help a client solve a problem? Offer it up. In a time when good customer service is very hard to find, a simple gesture might just be what keeps you ahead of the competition. 


If you're spending money promoting your business, you need to be clear on what's working and what's not. If you're not technically savvy, implementing a lead form on your website that asks “how did you hear about us?” is probably all you need to learn more about what is and isn’t performing. The way you capture the data doesn’t have to be fancy, it just has to be accurate.


Expand your reach by partnering up with local businesses that offer products and services that are complimentary to yours. Think about the types of companies in your area that are looking for similar clientele and host a meet-up to discuss collaborating on events, social media or PR efforts. You'll get the benefit of expanding your audience, as well as the support from working with other small business owners who have similar goals. 


Too many small business owners forget that their best ambassadors are right under their own roof! Give your employees the opportunity to contribute to the growth of your business by giving them insights into your short and long-term business goals. Lead a brainstorm session to discuss employee ideas that can hit specific targets. Empower your team to share their favorite at-work moments on social media and repost and reward your favorites. Let your experts share their knowledge through short blog posts. Remember, everyone in your organization can be a business builder, but only if you let them.


We all know testimonials and referrals are the best forms of marketing, so why not make the most of yours? Did you get an email or thank you card from a grateful customer? Ask if they mind if you share it with your social media following! Get a great Facebook review? Jazz it up and repost it on your website or other social media channels. When someone is looking for a professional, they want to know the person they’re dealing with is trustworthy and will get the job done. Hearing reviews from your past customers is a great way to gain that trust. So get on it!


As a small business owner, you have a certain expertise that puts you ahead of the general public. So make sure you’re using it! Own a spa? Tell us your top tips on how to keep our skin looking soft and sexy. Have a bakery? Help us learn how to make the perfect cupcake! Is fitness your game? Give us your favorite 15-minute core workout. Customers respond better to being educated than being sold to, so mix your knowledge in with your product pushes and service sells. Your target market will thank you.


How does your website look on your mobile device? More than half of all Internet usage is being consumed on the go, so if your digital storefront isn't mobile-friendly you could be losing valuable customers. Luckily, platforms such as SquareSpace, Wix and Weebly make building a mobile site easy and cost effective. Don’t turn off people who are actively seeking you out, instead, make it easy for them to transact!


Have something new to promote in your business? Don't just leave it to social media to announce the news. Schedule several social posts using different images and content, post to your website, send an email newsletter, write a press release to send to the local paper and blogs, list events in free local calendars, take advantage of Eventbrite and Facebook Events, publish your story on Medium, print some eye-catching postcards or flyers, and share it with any local businesses that you think might want to help promote the news. Creating something new is one thing but making sure you're shouting it from the rooftops is a whole other beast. Have a list of ways to promote your news and make it your routine. It's the best way to get the biggest bang for your buck!


Social media can be daunting if you're constantly worrying about what to post. A simple editorial calendar will help you collect your ideas and organize them into categories to ensure your posts are relevant and exciting. A content calendar will also let you know what kinds of posts are getting the best response. Need help with a template? Let us know!


Thinking about launching a new product? Wondering what name, design and language will appeal to your target demographic? Consider surveying potential customers to find out! Tools such as Survey Monkey will allow you to find your future customers and ask them questions about their preferences and likelihood to purchase. If you're entering a new market or your team is in an opinion deadlock, a simple bit of research might be just what you need to move forward. 


Negative reviews are a reality of being in business. If you get one, the best thing you can do is communicate with the reviewer by offering an apology and working to understand what went wrong. You’re never going to get it 100% perfect all the time, but a willingness to acknowledge a mistake and improve upon it will show your customers that you’re willing to give it your all.


Give your online presence some personality! We live in a world full of perfectly curated communication, which can get really quite boring. Let your business be a reflection of you, rather than being so stuck on the rules. A little experimentation might just uncover a voice that customers relate and respond to.


Social media success is not just about how many followers you have. It's about how many followers you have who engage with you and your business. Would you rather have 1,000 followers who are genuine, prospective customers or 10,000 followers who don't even know what you do? I’d take the first option any day.


Not all great marketing costs a fortune. You can build your brand through a smart mix of traditional marketing (like snail mail or sponsorships), digital marketing (like newsletters and SEO), social media (through a combo of great content and advertising), events (such as speaking engagements or networking) and public relations (like media articles and publishing). Just don't put all your eggs in one basket, make sure you diversify your strategy.


Social media check-ins and tags are gold. Don't ignore them. Make sure you are virtually welcoming your guests and acknowledging them for their patronage. These interactions can be brilliant testimonials for your business if you use them correctly.