Running ads is important, but the best way to grow a small business is to get your customers to do the marketing for you.

According to research from technology giant Salesforce, 92% of consumers trust online content from friends and family above all other forms of brand messages. So if you can get your audience (and your employees) singing your praises, then it’s game on in terms of building momentum from organic growth.

Engage, inspire and delight your customers, employees and stakeholders, and they do the marketing for the brand, alleviating the pressure on ad spend and almost always producing higher quality leads and referrals due to the added layer of trust that a personal recommendation brings.

The new way of doing brand

© Marty Neumeier, The Brand Flip

The way a brand used to work, by spotting a gap in the market and creating a product to fill that gap, isn’t the full picture any more. Yes, courage and innovation are still necessary (think Henry Ford), but the order for establishing a brand has changed. Customers hold more power than before. Brands can no longer simply drive products into people’s lives through heavy marketing (sorry). The good news, though, for businesses who are willing to embrace the new brand model, is that the advantages of thinking about brand differently are significant and very impactful. Dedicated followers will happily produce user-generated content, submit ideas, promote products and services to their friends and even become an affiliate. You create advocates when you put the customer first – the customers creates the brand for you.

Don’t suffer alone in the quest to build momentum in your business. Invite your customers and clients to join you on the journey as you start to grow your business the smart way.

Written by Matt Collison, Co-founder and strategy director of Sublime.

Starting out as a freelance designer, Matt has been working with small businesses for 10 years to help them look as good on the outside as they are on the inside. Today he leads the brand strategy work of Sublime, leading small business owners and their teams through a process of discovering their true identity and positioning them for success.

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