As a startup, things are tight. Finances have to be monitored pound by pound, or at times, penny by penny. That doesn’t leave too much leeway for anything fancy or elaborate when it comes to that all-important business tool: marketing.
Marketing is such an essential aspect of a business, and especially for startups because you need to get your name out there. You need people to know who you are, sometimes even before your business strategy or branding fully knows who you are. After the seventh coffee on an all-nighter finishing an important presentation for a client, you might not even know who you are.
Nonetheless, marketing has to happen in some shape or form, because you are great, your company is excellent, and everyone has to hear about that, like, yesterday.
So how do you marry the constricting issue of low to no finances, and the urgent need for marketing for your new business? Can those two things correlate at all? Is your business doomed to be silent until it gains success and a bigger budget, or are there ways to market your offerings right now, for little to no money?
OK, you got us, there are. Did the title give it away? We do know some mostly easy and importantly, cheap ways for you to get your name out there. That’s right, that dusty business bank account of yours doesn’t have to have an impact on your potential for marketing success.
Here are ten marketing strategies for startups that don’t cost an arm and a leg:
Can I Have Your Attention Please?
It’s time for you to become the extrovert you never thought you could be. Tuck that introvert in your pocket and put your best self forward, because YOU are your startups marketing asset.
Gaining the attention of industry leaders, potential employees, suppliers, clients and other connections that could benefit your business is possible just with networking.
Speak to everybody that could be helpful to your startup, from the next-door neighbour to John the barista at the coffee shop. You never know who could potentially help your business — letting people know that you have a business and what it does it a fantastic first step to marketing what you can do. Even better, can you place yourself at events that will draw attention to your business?
Maybe you can run a branded stall? If you can’t afford the right gear to do that, what if you just attend the event as the branding for your even?
Networking and making connections is a great way to get your name out there, especially at events full to the brim with the kind of people you want to impress.
The only prerequisite is that you have to look sharp. First impressions are so important. So a haircut, clean teeth, smart clothes and a good handshake should all be part of your’ opening number’ when you network.
Why not make those hours achieving your best selfie for Instagram count? If you can perfect your grid for yourself, you can improve it for your business, for free. Sure, there are expensive business packages on all social media platforms for later down the line. But while you’re starting up, free will just have to do, and it can do just fine.
Thinking of the best outcome, your tweets, posts, pictures or anything else you put out there, could reach millions, possibly even billions, of people. Even on a smaller scale once you have built up a network, it will reach hundreds, and if what you put out is good, it will get shared, which is where you get the tasty business marketing treat of exposure.
Produce shareable content and engage with your audience to truly make an impact with your brand. Try to ensure that you:
- Remain consistent with your posts
- Provide useful content, not just content about what you do
- Master all social media platforms
- Engage with your audience
- Try to penetrate your industry first
- Lead followers to action such as signing up for a newsletter, or visiting a campaign page on your website
- Have some fun; this is a fantastic learning experience for your brand
Think of social media as free access to a worldwide market, which certainly makes it worth some time, and more.
Create Authority Blogs
Blogging is an effortless way to make yourself an authority on any one topic. So, if your business makes, say, cat jumpers (definitely a market there), you could become the authority on cat jumpers. You could blog about cats and, you know, how they like jumpers.
OK, maybe not the best example. The fact is that if you can produce useful blogs for your target market and by doing so, you can make a real name for your brand, you will gain followers and readers based on your content, and hopefully, your pieces will then get shared.
Not only does this create a trust for your startup in your industry, but it makes your value extend beyond the products or services you offer, which is hugely positive and a great way to market your expertise.
Following on from blogs, did you know that video is kind of a thing now? It is probably going to be the biggest thing in marketing. Check out these statistics:
- Over three-quarters of businesses use video for marketing
- Over 50% of people prefer online videos to the TV
- In 2 years, online videos will make up over 75% of all consumer internet traffic
- Over 50% of people watch online videos daily
- A leading authority at Facebook said that their platform would be zero text and all video within the next couple of years
- Nearly 60% of executives would prefer to watch a video than to read text
- Viewers retain almost 100% of a message when they watch it in a video, compared to just 10% when taking in the same information when reading
- Nearly 75% of customers would prefer to hear about a product via video
If you haven’t run off to start making a vlog for your startup immediately; hopefully, the above statistics on video usage has persuaded you that maybe you should. What are you waiting for?
Hosting events is a great way to market your business. Just by inquiring about venues and companies who may want to attend, you are putting your name out there. You’ll also naturally make connections as you organise the event, getting to know those involved in it. Once the event is happening, your branding and influence will be plastered all over it, and you’ll be introducing your business at every opportunity. There will be some financial output needed to make this work, but the returns could be massive if planned and executed well.
Partnering Up With Local Businesses
Local market penetration should be your first port of call when it comes to low-cost marketing. Getting yourself known by people and other companies locally is so important because local businesses want to support each other. At the same time, the local community wants to help them.
Sure, we all want to take over the world with our business, but in the meantime, the local community is a soft, warm, and gentle way for you to start getting known. Try approaching local businesses to connect with for a mutually beneficial arrangement. For example, a local bald cat breeder may happily advertise your cat jumpers to her clients, if you, in turn, mention her services to your customers. (We made our weird business bed, we’re going to have to lie in it.)
You really should be the local leader in your industry first. It is an excellent basis for growth as a startup.
Business Advertising On The Road
If you often cycle to meetings or use public transport, then this marketing option is not for you. However, if you park in a place many people drive by or walk by, then you are missing a HUGE marketing trick.
A car wrap, or even just car magnets advertising your startup could require a small initial outlay. But, the potential for hundreds or thousands of people to see the advert mean that it could pay off, especially if the advert is effective.
You could even save money by designing the advert yourself if you have any experience in design.
Promotional Products Can Have Long-Lasting Marketing Reach
Promotional products like mugs, pens and calendars can seem a little tacky when you send them out, but they can have long-lasting marketing reach. If they look professional, most recipients will see them as practical and use them. That means one of your promotional calendars could be up in their office for 365 days.
If the images on the calendar are eye-catching, clients and customers might ask questions about it. Even if they don’t ask about your item, as long as your company name is visible, then each visitor is exposed to your brand name, which is excellent.
Promotional products can be a cheap way to make a long-lasting impact, so don’t discount them, especially when you’re reaching out to clients both existing and new.
Communication is a free way to be memorable both as a person and as a business. When somebody speaks to you, express an interest in what they have to say, even if it has no benefit to your business whatsoever. When somebody expects an email or phone call from you, make sure you follow that up.
Even if they don’t expect you to take that further step, take that step and check-in. It shows that you care and pay attention to detail.
You could even take it further and remember what different people you meet need.
For example: perhaps you know a great yoga instructor who can help with Mr Smith’s posture issues, even though he currently has no place for your products in his shop. Maybe you remember that Mrs Smith is struggling to place her child locally in a school, but you know the headmaster of a fantastic school and can put the right word in for her. Maybe Mrs Smith will remember you when her happy child does well in school, and remind Mr Smith of you next time finds he has space for new products in the shop.
Never underestimate simple human connections, because they always ensure you make an imprint on a person, and you never know if, when, or how that imprint will pay off in the future.
Learn To Do Marketing Like A Pro
So, a lot of our tips above and the article, in general, assumes that you, the reader, are not a marketing expert. If you were an expert, you most likely wouldn’t be here. So, that leads us to our 10th and final tip – how about you learn a little about marketing?
We know you are super busy you know, starting a business and keeping them chilly cats warm (yeah we stuck with it to the END), but a little investment in learning how to market your business could save you a ton of money. If anything, it helps you understand what you need to do to promote your startup effectively, and at most, you’ll be able to do that yourself.
Next time you require a new podcast or YouTube channel, check out some basic marketing techniques and have a bash, you’ve nothing to lose, and all kinds of amazing skills to gain.
You Can Access Low Cost Or Free Marketing For Your Startup
Hopefully, the ten tips above have given you some useful food for thought when it comes to getting your brand name out there for an affordable price. At the very least, one of you is starting a cat jumper business, which is just such great news for all those shivering felines out and about.
Also, you’re now aware that marketing does not have to be too expensive.
Your startup deserves to be seen, whether or not you have a plump bank balance. The sooner you believe that the sooner you can grasp those low-cost marketing opportunities and give your business the exposure it needs to help it grow and move up to the next level.