How Penji converted their existing network into customers

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This is a guest post from Johnathan Grzybowski. Johnathan is a national thought leader in digital marketing and branding. He is the Cofounder of Penji, an unlimited graphic design service for marketing teams, that provides jobs and internship opportunities to Camden students and residents.

Are your sales struggling, or are you looking for more ways to market your brand? Your next customer may be closer than you think.

If you’re a startup founder with a social media account, you most likely have a network. When you have a network, you have an opportunity to convert them into customers.

In this article I’ll go over 4 ways I was able to convert my existing network into customers in my early startup days.

4 ways to convert your existing network into customers

Start with social media

Business has and always will start with those you surround yourself with. Given the current state of social media, our “friends” lists have grown exponentially. It’s relatively easy to have friends, but whether they are meaningful is a different conversation.

The next step is to make your “friends” aware of all of the things you are doing for yourself and your business.

A few things to consider for Facebook:

  • Join groups that involve your particular niche
  • Jump into conversations that you can bring value to
  • Post video updates that explain how you solved a serious issue in your business, and how it’s relevant to your friends
  • Post blogs that point people back to our website
  • Go live on your business profile

At Penji, we created a schedule that allows us to hit every aspect of this list. We have a weekly segment  where we go live and show off some of the fun things we do in our business. We also post routinely via the business, as well as our own personal accounts to increase reach.

How Penji converted their existing network into customers

Here’s how we structure some of our content efforts.

  1. Create a Google sheet focused on blogs that need to be written. Within the document, here is what we track:
    • Focus keyword
    • Style of article (IE. Listical, word count length, review, and etc…)
    • Title
    • Author
  2. Create a Trello board focused on marketing. Here are our columns:
    1. Ideas
    2. Scheduled
    3. Completed
  3. Write articles and create live videos consistently
  4. Results

This month, we recorded a Facebook live event around eating as many Popeye’s biscuit as we could, without taking a sip of water. That video alone produced around 1,ooo views.

We then posted four blogs monthly and scattered the information throughout the web via social platforms and advertising. Along with our marketing efforts, we were able to generate more than 73,000 impressions, which then resulted in 30 new sales for our business.

On Instagram, Linkedin, and other social platforms:

  • Post daily using a unique hashtag. This strategy allows Penji to rank in the top 9* of Instagram.
  • Use the refreshed Linkedin algorithm to promote your business via video.
  • Create a consistent strategy to promote daily on all platforms, including Pinterest.

*The top 9 is where you search for a hashtag within Instagram and it’s within the top 9 most popular images for that keyword.

Create an incentivized survey

Before we launched Penji, we reached out to more than 250 of our closest friends and colleagues via email and social media. We asked them to fill out a survey, and offered a gift in exchange for their time.

We ended up getting about 125-150 responses, which laid the existing foundation for our unlimited graphic design service today.

We asked specific questions that allowed us to understand what our audience wants, but our final goal was to find out “if we build this, would you buy it?”

The majority of the responses were yes, and 40 of the individuals who completed the survey converted into customers. That is 16% of everyone we reached out to overall, and approximately 30% of everyone who took our survey. Our existing network became our customers, with little to no effort on our end.

We solved an issue that our potential customers had, and they were interested because they knew us months/years prior to launch.

Provide value to your communities

We moved from city to city for more than 5 years. We went from Merchantville, NJ to Philadelphia, PA, ultimately landing here in Camden, NJ. We immediately went all in for our community, making phone calls and sending emails to our community leaders. We wanted (and are on track) to hire 100 local students by the end of 2019.

The minute that our community understood how invested we were, they immediately began to care more about us. The community and our existing network wanted to see us succeed. On top of all that, we also created an exclusive non-profit initiative that introduced us to more than half of the non-profits within our region.

These simple real-world strategies are part of our mission for a better world. More specifically, it gave us the opportunity to raise awareness for our company. We had champions that cared about us and introduced us to their friends, ultimately leading us to new customers.


Start a podcast

About two and a half years ago, I started a podcast to achieve two things:

  1. To expand my network to help with entrepreneur loneliness
  2. To create a referral network that introduces my guests to my brand (and vice versa)

My business podcast has more than 160 interviews with business professionals like Dennis Crowley of FourSquare and Mark Suster of UpFront Ventures. Things change when you give people a microphone or platform to speak at.

The podcast has allowed me to make 160 new friends, but more importantly it gave me the ability to fix critical issues within our business. With a podcast, you can ask questions that you normally wouldn’t be able to ask. You obtain a mentor in the guest, because you are asking them questions specific to your life’s problems and they are answering with how they themselves fixed a similar issue. This creates a powerful relationship advantage.

A podcast might not be for everyone, and others may need more training before they can hold an engaging conversation. The takeaway from this tip is to find your version of a podcast. Create a platform for others to interact with and learn from them.

The Blind Entrepreneur Podcast has by far been the best networking tool I’ve ever come across. It breaks down the barrier to even the the highest of executives.

Bonus tip: Maintain a consistent image

Whether it’s a social media initiative, email campaign, or anything else that allows your business to obtain a sale, you must make a consistent marketing effort. Whatever approach you take to convert your existing network into customers, it must be cohesive.

Using these strategies will help you get a new idea out there and convert your network into customers. Now, it’s up to you and your team to decide what to offer.