When you are starting up, more often than not, you don’t have much to show in terms of your bank balance. I have had the opportunity to interact with entrepreneurs who have had little to nothing “initial capital” when they begin their journey. If you hear the word ‘marketing’ and the first thing that comes to your mind are TV commercials, hoardings on busy streets, billboards, or newspaper ads that cost a fortune, then you couldn’t be more wrong.
The emergence of internet and social media has democratized marketing for everybody. You can use a gallon of creativity and beat the big companies that have crores to spend on different channels of marketing. However, before you think that it is a pleasure trot, stop yourself; not having big monies to spend means that the effort that you take should be multi-fold.
Let me ask you this – what do you think is the easiest method to get better at what your competitors are doing? Copy them to the T, with adjustments based on your values and targets, and provide more value. This might not necessarily be the example of a zero-dollar marketing strategy because you might not be able to spend money the way your competitors do. But you don’t have to spend precious money on a consultant who drafts a marketing strategy for you.
Here are a few things you can do to set the stage immediately:
SEO: Isn’t this costly? Nope. It’s a skill that should take a few hours to be reasonably good at. You can do this without spending on someone with the requisite skills if budget is your biggest constraint. But hey, it will not give you results overnight. It’s a long-term strategy.
Content: Can you or your co-founder write content that will benefit your entire community? Let’s say, content that is kick-ass enough that your single article is shared widely in your niche because you have provided a panacea for a problem that has had no solution until now. Share your experiences in your niche, your experiments and struggle, everything that readers will resonate with.
Get repeat customers: Did you read the sub-heading and go “Duh?” Wait – I am talking about giving the kind of service that they would never get anywhere outside with your competitor. That is one of the best ways to get noticed. There is nothing like word-of-mouth marketing from your customers. It will help your ratings soar through the roof!
Email & social media: Use these two tools which are relatively free. Use the content that you have written on your blog and spread the word about your startup using these platforms. Sending a message directly to your customer’s inbox is the best way to reach the customer.
Now, let’s hear from one of India’s top Internet Marketers, Gaurab Borah. He is also a serial Affiliate Marketer, Product Launch expert, and has helped 30,000+ marketers with his info and software products.
“To me, marketing means ‘helping others solve their problems’ and putting these solutions in front of people who are looking for them. When it comes to zero dollar marketing, here is one of my most powerful and effective strategies while selling online. I have been selling digital products such as software, video courses, and reports for the last four years, and what has really worked well for me is finding fellow marketers in the same niche who have a good number of followers, or have an email list, or someone who is an influencer in their niche, and ask them to promote my product for a good commission (I usually work with 50 percent in commissions and incentives). Since we only sell digital products, we can easily give away that much commission and still rake in huge profits. While doing that, we try to make sure that our product is of high quality, solves a real problem, and is closely related to what they are already selling. This has really helped us kickstart our business quickly without wasting a lot of time and money on testing, researching, and targeting different advertising platforms. The more the number of marketers we reach out to, the higher is the number of deals we strike and sales we get. Just in 2017, we were able to sell over $575,000 worth of our digital products just by getting other marketers to promote our products for a commission and without spending anything on traffic.”
Gaurab has sold over $2 million worth of products online as a vendor and an affiliate. He has the unique distinction of getting 25 Product of the Day awards on JVZOO, W+, ClickBank, Infusionsoft, and various other platforms.
At the end of the day, every business is different and you have to tweak your experiments according to your situation and the niche you are in. But it is entirely possible to create a fantastic brand-image with a super-small budget.