bootstrapping brand building

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Last week The Wall Street Journal ran a piece about building a brand with a small budget. The recommendations from two entrepreneurs were right on the mark. The first bit of advice was to focus on investing time, not money. The second was to have the company establish a trusted “Figurehead.” Both are so important to branding.

Investing Time

David Ciccarelli, founder and CEO of, Ontario, is the entrepreneur who recommended time spent with   content creation. Maintaining a blog or a podcast requires significant time investment. However, the potential rewards (immediate and ongoing) are worth the effort. This orobora case study shows how content development resulted in 33% growth in one year and brought a host of other additional benefits. Some of these benefits include enhanced search visibility and an emerging thought leadership role.

Almost anyone can get started with a blog, and, with a bit more technical knowledge, a podcast. The key is managing an editorial calendar to ensure that production is regular.

Once your blog or podcast is built—and you’re at a point to ramp up—ongoing media development is still significantly less expensive than the traditional marketing, advertising, and PR campaigns of the past.

Creating a Figurehead

Few things are worse than a company with no discernible personality or point of view! This is especially true of small, independent businesses. By default the founder(s) need to be very visible. Writes Jayson DeMers, founder and CEO of AudienceBloom, Seattle, “The more places your company figurehead turns up, and the greater his or her reputation becomes, the more likely it is that potential customers will be naturally directed to your business.”

This, too, circles back to content development and distribution. Whether your company head is authoring guest posts on other sites, appearing on other podcasts, or writing books, there are numerous ways to get in front of other audiences at a fraction of yesterday’s cost. That’s assuming, of course, you have a personality that suits.

We can’t help you find your personality, but Sally Hogshead can. Her focus is “fostering fascination” and uncovering how you (and by extension, perhaps) your business is viewed by others. Every business owner should think about how to maximize their “fascination potential” in every bit of content produced.

Fascinating content—regardless of format—comes down to a few things:

  • is it a genuine expression?
  • does it offer value to others?
  • does it convey a specific point-of-view?

Strategically, we may add: how does one piece of content support overall branding material? How will it be distributed?

Betsy Scuteri recently revealed how, one of the best-known business websites, distributes their content. What is interesting about her post is how applicable content syndication is whether you are a solopreneur or small business owner on a tight budget. One valuable idea is curating content and repackaging it into a custom Flipboard magazine. (Flipboard is possibly the “next big thing in PR,” according to Allen Mireles.)

Bootstrapping your brand can be done, and done very inexpensively, if you’re willing to think strategically and invest the time.

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