What the experts say...

"I would hire a social-media marketing consultant to develop a strategy and fine-tune our brand on the residential side of our business. I'd train a couple of people on how to manage that ourselves, so we're not relying on a consultant to do that work. I'd also hire, on a part-time basis, a graphic designer, just to spice up our photos and the content we post."

--Michael Parnell MP Consulting | Inc. 500 rank 57 | Three-year growth 4,664.8% | 2015 revenue $4.8 million

"Direct mail--it's a hidden gem. Everybody thinks it's old school; nobody focuses on it anymore, which provides more opportunity for those of us who do. People who open up mail are a specific demographic. If your product fits in with the responsible, middle-aged group who typically open their mail, direct mail can be huge."

--Jim Carlson Zurixx | Inc. 500 rank 43 | Three-year growth 5,626.1% | 2015 revenue $130.1 million

"First, look at internal data about your customers. Using that, develop specific customer identities. One we've used is 'head of a regional media agency seeking a competitive advantage but who lacks resources for a video team to serve his customers.' Second, ask if you are communicating to your customers what you do in a nonconfusing way. Third, spend money on the basis of what you found out in the first two steps. Figure out where your customers are when they have their buying hats on: events or social networks? Then create content that fits each particular environment. For YouTube, video; for events, a special kind of talk that is geared toward informing the customers you're looking for."

--Bettina Hein Pixability | Inc. 500 rank 314 | Three-year growth 1,225.9% | 2015 revenue $9.8 million

"I'd go to all of our partners, whether they're sponsors or the mayor's office, and I'd look at co-op marketing. To the city, I'd say, 'Let's run a joint ad for the festival and the city and try to double or triple that marketing budget and create some social media.' It's all about stretching the dollars."

--Danny Hayes Danny Wimmer Presents | Inc. 500 rank 266 | Three-year growth 1,495.7%| 2015 revenue $40.7 million

"If I was a new lifestyle company, I'd spend it on branding. Having a strong creative with a really crisp point of view that is timeless and stands out, and that you feel reflects who you are as a company, provides huge bang for the buck. You're going to live with your logo for a long time."

--Amanda Hesser Food52 | Inc. 500 rank 329 | Three-year growth 1,173.2% | 2015 revenue $11.3 million

From the October 2016 issue of Inc. magazine