The COVID-19 economic downturn has forced businesses big and small to rethink their budgets. In order to stay afloat, companies have to reprioritize costs but often at the expense of marketing and exposure.  Leaders up and down the pipeline, especially in the small business economy, are trying to find ways to get their brands out there without overspending on advertising. 

Helen Guo, co-founder of the keto foods brand  Schoolyard Snacks, says you don’t have to spend a dime. In a recent LinkedIn post, Guo broke down how she was able to ramp up her company’s revenue without shelling out a huge advertising budget.

Influencers go a long way

Guo says this strategy made her startup $100,000 without spending any money. Guo recommends that businesses connect with thought leaders and influencers. Connecting with them can help bring awareness to your brand. Guo messaged a whopping “2,000 micro-influencers” before launching Schoolyard Snacks, “asking if they'd like to receive a exchange for a shoutout if they liked the product.” 

According to a 2019 Edelman survey, 63% of Instagram users ages 18-34 trust influencers more than the brands themselves. Of that demographic, users are more likely to trust micro influencers over influencers with a larger footprint, citing relatability.  Micro Influencers are generally considered to have around 10,000 followers.  “I changed our Instagram bio to ‘Join our VIP List,’” Guo writes. “ I asked for customer emails in order to join our VIP list so they could get first dibs.” 

Perks are key

Consumers have a lot of choices. You have to entice them to use your product over every other brand. “Key here is make this group of people feel special,” Guo writes in the post. She rolled out Schoolyard Snack VIP giveaways, early access to products, and behind-the-scenes content. 

Word-of-mouth works

Never underestimate the power of a friend-of-a-friend. "Once customers submitted their emails, I provided a way for them to refer their friends easily via social media and email in order to enter a giveaway to win a month worth of product when we launched," Guo writes. "Virality can be created!"

Read Guo's full how-to below.

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