A startup can be demanding on your time, energy, and of course – your budget. It’s important to utilize all of the resources at-hand and develop creative ways to promote your new business without breaking the bank.
First and foremost: You don’t start a task without knowing the end result or goal. Marketing is no different. Defining the goal of your activities allows you to determine the right amount of time and money to allocate to promotions. This goal may be something along the lines of generating awareness. But for your specific business and market, would time be better spent on social media, is it worth it to send potential brand advocates samples of your product, or perhaps on crafting a local media strategy?
All of those things can be low-cost ways to effectively market your new startup. Here are some other creative ways to use all of the tools at your disposal:
1. Social media
The value of social media marketing lies in the power of the people. This is because word-of-mouth, both virtual and face to face, remains the strongest and most trusted method of marketing.
Social media can be used to grow your audience, expand your reach, interact with consumers, and encourage brand evangelists. People who believe in your product/service can hold incredible value by posting on their networks about your brand, which will be trusted by their peers. This costs you virtually nothing.
A key challenge in the beginning phases of marketing your brand will be establishing credibility and presenting your business as a trusted subject matter expert. This can be especially hard if you don’t yet have a solid base of testimonials or reviews.
Review sites are another big win. Requesting reviews from your customers is not an intrusive thing to do – this is a perfectly normal practice that takes only a few seconds of your day to do. While social media is a great way to build an audience and foster advocacy, things like Google+ Reviews can add credibility to your business.
3. SEO & Inbound Marketing
Is your website SEO friendly? Is your Google+ page (Google My Business) verified? Do you have a personalized thank you email that sends when someone submits a form? Are you using other forms of social media like Pinterest to your advantage?
Looking for the small wins and laying the foundation for growth is essential during this time. Now is the time to create all of your accounts, write out a short-description and long-description, make sure your name, address, and phone number are accurate on all listings, and other things that often get overlooked.
Make yourself known in the industry. Comment on popular related blogs and forums. Write and post blogs yourself. Remember, inbound marketing is significantly cheaper per lead than outbound.
4. The Customer Experience
These seemingly small things can have major impacts overtime, and be costly to clean up. They are also responsible for creating the customer experience.
Today’s customer is exposed to your brand in multiple ways. On social media, search engines, your website, customer service, traditional marketing (radio, print), local sites and publications… Every one of these pieces should be treated with care and composed with quality. Customers will notice this, and you’ll be setting yourself up to be stronger than many other competitors.
5. Get Creative!
There are countless ways to promote your business on a limited budget. The right strategy for you all depends on your target audience and level of competitiveness. Here are some other ideas to consider:
- Joining Groups & Associations
- Local Publications & News Outlets
- Press Releases
- Sponsoring & Local Outreach
While a startup may not have the funds to hire a professional SEO or web design agency, you can use the tools and resources provided on company blogs or consider one-off consulting. The list goes on and on.