In today’s competitive market, building a brand and getting noticed can be an overwhelming challenge. Not many local start-ups have the luxuries of investors or a hefty marketing budget to put their product or service in the sights of a sea of potential customers, so how do you grow your brand organically?

1. Focus on your product or service

Make sure what you’re offering to customers is literally outstanding – customers should fall in love with your product because there’s nothing out there like it, and because the service you provide around it is exceptional. When we buy something special or experience a service that makes us feel like a VIP, we tell people about it. One of my clients, an online fashion boutique, includes a handwritten note and chocolatey treat with all orders, and customers share a snap on social media.

Instead of brainstorming ways to promote your brand, first analyse your product and ask yourself how you can give it that little extra ‘something’ to make your customers feel special.

2. Get social

Once you have your stand-out product or service sorted, it’s time to get it out there, and there’s no better way for small businesses to promote their brand for little or no cost than by utilising social media. I spend only $5 boosting a post on Facebook for my business Babua Soft Toys, and that brings in about 100 new likes and 1-2 sales. If you have products, jump on Instagram and make use of hashtags. Hashtags are like keywords users search for, so posting a few will get your photos found by a wider audience. Don’t overdo it though, I suggest 10 hashtags as a maximum and always stick to those that are relevant to your product or business.

Remember, when a customer ‘likes’ your post, it’s seen by all their friends too. Your followers become mini evangelists for your brand and nothing works better than word-of-mouth referrals.

3. Incentivize customers who share your brand

If you provide an amazing product that customers love, you’re going to have some loyal fans, just like the large brands do. I’ve noticed a few followers who constantly like/share/retweet every post I make, so I messaged them to reward them with a $10 voucher. Every once in a while I run a promotion where if customers share my post, they receive a 20% off promo code. It’s like having a sale, but only your most devoted fans have access to it.

Just remember, first making your product the best it can be is crucial.