In the first article in this series, How to Build a Brand from Scratch, I talked to you about what’s really important when you decide to build your brand. And now, it’s time to get to the heart of the matter and show you how to start a business on a budget, with nothing more than a passion and a vision.
The first step will be shared here, and the next six in Start a New Business with Sammy Blindell. Why only one here? Because it’s so crucial to everything that comes after it. It will set you up to build a brand that will be visible, credible and that will have an impact.
All of the content here has been extracted from How to Build a Brand from Scratch, an episode recorded for Brand Builders TV, and has been created for the purpose of showing you how I took a business from £0 to £18K per month in just twelve short weeks.
You can watch the full episode right here, or you can keep reading.
Now let’s learn it, model it and get shit done!
Who is Sammy Blindell?
Sammy Blindell is a branding and visibility expert who has written several best-selling books. She is also the CEO of How to Build a Brand, Chief Visionary Officer at the Brand Builders Club and founder of the One Drop Movement.
Sammy works with all sizes and types of businesses (and entrepreneurs who are thinking of opening businesses) to increase their credibility, relevance, visibility and profitability. She made a number of mistakes when she built her first businesses, and now she’s on a mission to make sure that none of us make those same mistakes. She’s saving her 46,000 followers from wasting time, money and effort and helping them to get it right the first time.
In her own words, as extracted from her Brand Builders TV episode about How to Build a Brand from Scratch, she’s telling us how to get started.
How to Start a Business: the First Step
Hello! Sammy here. I’m going to take you through a seven-step Movement Maker system. I shared this on a webinar about two years ago, and I don’t think I’ve shared it with anyone since then.
This is a process that works 100% of the time, whether you’re launching a business, a product, a book…for anyone who’s just getting started in business, starting over again, a young business owner or someone who’s new to business.
Step One: Research and Listening
I know this sounds like a really boring step, but you can make this so much fun. When I was getting ready to launch How to Build a Brand, I reached out to some friends and said, “I’m going to launch this online resource. It’s a brand-building resource for business owners and I really want to get it out there in a big way. I know you run events, and I’d love to talk at your events. I know you run webinars, and I’d love to deliver a webinar with you to support your audience with how to build a brand, which is the name of my company. Do you have any slots available?”
I got some speaking gigs and there was one speaking opportunity that came up for a two-hour presentation for a friend of mine, Simon Coulson. He has an online marketing group and he said, “Come and talk to the group.”
I immediately went onto some Facebook groups (you could also use LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest or any platform where you already have a following) with an essence of fun and enjoyment. People could tell I was doing it because I really wanted to help; not because I was trying to get something out of them or sell them something. That wasn’t the energy I went into it with.
So I got focussed on going into some groups that weren’t my groups (I didn’t have my own Facebook group at that time) and said, “I’ve got to create a two-hour presentation for a friend of mine all about how to build a brand. What are some questions you have about how to build a brand that I can answer for you and these people? Because you are the same audience that will be in that room.”
I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was brilliant. I had one group where I got 19 responses. Every one of them came in with really good questions. In another group, I got 21 responses, and about the same from the third group. Some were duplicate questions, which was great because that told me they were the ones I needed to answer first.
This is a great YouTube strategy because you’re getting actual research from actual people who actually exist and who actually want to know the answers to specific questions.
So you go and get those questions, compile them in a list including who asked the question so you know who to go back to, and friend request people who jumped in on the conversation.
Back then, we didn’t have live streaming, so I bought a 12” foam grip tripod from Amazon (the smaller plastic ones slip and are too lightweight). It bends and wraps around things; you can take it anywhere.
And that’s how I started How to Build a Brand: with a free Facebook account, an iPhone 4S and a £12 tripod. I got to work making videos to answer those questions. For instance, “Lisa, thank you so much for your question on building a personal brand at the same time you’re building a corporate brand. If you, like Lisa, have that question, over the next three to four minutes, I’m going to answer it for you. If you have any additional questions as I go through this, please pop them in the comments below and I’ll be sure to make you a video as well. Let’s get started…”
Then I delivered that. Every day, I put up another video. I posted it on my own personal profile because I had friend requested new people who had joined the conversation. I posted it and tagged them in and sent them a little message saying I’ve just posted a video for them. I asked them to share the video with anybody else who would find it valuable. The people responded, “Of course I’ll share it. You created a video just for me?”
I spent maybe an hour a day creating a video and responding. At the same time, I was going back to the threads of questions, thanking one or two people for responding and letting them know I’d created a video and where they could find it.
I was continually signposting back to that content. And because of that, I wasn’t having to create a load of content—just one piece a day and then driving people to it. It also did something else, because every time a comment is made on a post, it will go straight to the top of people’s news feeds. So every time I went back and commented, it shot the post back to the top. Using this commenting strategy, your brand is the one that will most often be seen at the top of the page.
That was my strategy for Research and Listening. I was creating content people were asking for. That gave me permission to create the content, to contact them about that content…and they became really amazing brand ambassadors.
By week ten of launching How to Build a Brand from scratch, I still only had a Facebook account, a phone, a tripod, a blog and a URL for my website (I went with .org, bought .com and .uk and directed them there, because Google always ranks educational content first). Google makes its money with advertising, so it wants to direct people to the best resources, and educational ones are just that. So the more relevant you are, the more educational your content is, and the more content you provide on that…the faster you’re going to increase your ranking online.
On day one, my website was number 437,000,000 in Google search rankings, and most of us know that people rarely look past page one. Just with this strategy of learning, providing content and value, and turning that into blog posts (using Rev.com and Otter for transcribing), I got to number three on Google’s first page.
So I was creating the video and sharing it on Facebook, also sharing it on YouTube, transcribing it and turning it into a blog post for the website, and streaming the YouTube video into the blog post. So I’ve got YouTube (which is owned by Google) and I’ve got my blog (which Google loves because it’s educational content) streaming into my website, which took me to the first page of Google for “how to build a brand” in just twelve weeks (ahead of Sir Richard Branson).
We also launched my first book, The Seven Reasons Why Customers Don’t Choose You, and that book answered the top seven questions I had gotten in those comment threads. That book was launched in week eleven, but in week ten, I had enough information and enough followers that people were already asking me for things. So I created the Brand Accelerator program by week twelve, and eighteen people bought it because they’d been seeing me every day.
They saw me show up, they knew I was loyal, reliable, consistent…and they knew I was the one who could help them to build their brand. Those eighteen people invested £1K per month to work with me on this intense program for six months. So I had six months of income, with £18K per month coming in.
It makes sense that if you’re going to create something, Research and Listening should be your first step. You’ll never create something people don’t want if you do the Research and Listening first.
That’s How to Start a Business
So that’s the first step. For the next six steps, jump over to Start a New Business with Sammy Blindell. There you will learn about Crafting Your Offer, Launching, Optimising, Illuminating, Automating and more. Those steps will take less time each, but they’re just as crucial to learning how to start a business, especially if you don’t have the budget to invest in lots of expensive marketing, websites, funnels and that type of thing.
Let’s continue on together! Because I want to see this business that’s blooming inside of you out there in the world!
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And finally, if you’re wondering what the Brand Builders Club is all about, learn more at https://lite.brandbuilders.club/member. It’s a safe space for entrepreneurs like you, filled with support, encouragement and accountability. Come see what you think.