In these stressful situations, many startups decide to skip over what they think are lower priority investments such as advertising and digital marketing services for startups.
The truth is, without marketing, startups unknowingly force themselves into even tighter budgets collecting less money due to stifled growth from not spreading the word.
Unless your strategy is to be an overnight sensation, getting your name out there is a must and startup marketing is how you do it.
You don’t need a big budget to draw a crowd. Here I list 5 marketing strategies that cost little money. What you don’t pay for in money, however, you pay for in time and energy. And isn’t that what a startup is all about anyway?
When was the last time you’ve taken the recommendation of a stranger on the internet over your best friend’s?
Most likely, it doesn’t happen often, and the same is true of just about everyone else. Personal recommendations trump online reviews – people simply trust individual endorsements more.
Setting up a referral program is one of the more effective marketing strategies. When you consider the fact that products referred by a friend are four times more likely to be purchased, let your customers market for you instead – they’d probably get better results.
You can offer cash rewards, discounted subscriptions or a free product to members who bring in new customers. It’s important to remember you’ll have to get the word out about your referral program.
Regularly publishing valuable, useful or entertaining content to a blog is a low-cost way to start getting your business noticed. Anything that can increase traffic to your site and develop your brand reputation falls into the content marketing category. This can be in the form of an informative article, video, podcast or infographic.
Write about topics in your general niche – you don’t have to be an expert in your field or a masterful wordsmith to get started. If you’re really lacking faith in your writing abilities, content writing services for startups is a very affordable option.
What is non-negotiable is you create content that current and potential customers care about and is good enough to share, like or comment.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
The best content in the world still needs an audience to be appreciated. Get your content and website noticed by using SEO to improve your search ranking and attract high amounts of traffic to your site.
SEO may seem complex, but by doing a small amount of research, you can make sure your content has the right keywords to get ranked above competitors.
If you are hesitant to try on your own, a small investment in SEO services for startups can have big returns. They’ll help you make structural changes to your content that result in higher quality overall.
Think digital marketing is unaffordable? How does free sound? Companies that offer free versions of email marketing software abound (think MailChimp).
As long as you have an organic list of names, nothing store bought, email marketing is an effective, cheap strategy. When done right, a non-invasive yet consistent sequence of emails will provide a substantial return on the amount of time and money invested.
Don’t worry if you don’t have an email list yet! Start building your list by setting up opt-in forms on your site or creating a landing page.
Don’t have a site yet? Again, tell the worriers to chill out – your landing page can double as a main page until your site is ready for the public.
You can do this all on your own. Write freely and show your personality in your emails. Remind them why they handed over their email addresses to you.
Everyone likes free stuff – giving potential subscribers a reason to hand over their email addresses only makes sense. You can give away those coveted beta testing spots, a T-shirt or your product.
Contests are another great way to collect email addresses without having to put a lot on the line considering you choose the number of winners.
Forums & Groups
It’s easy to dismiss this strategy, scoff even, but make no mistake, forums and groups are worthwhile.
Find and join groups devoted to your niche. When someone asks a question you know the answer to, show your expertise and value by answering it. If a local event is mentioned, you’ve just found a place to promote your brand, service and products.
The great thing about this strategy is that you really get a firm understanding of what your target audience is looking for, what you can provide and how best to tell them about it (a.k.a. data). The more involved you become with your industry, local neighborhood or niche, the better position you’re in.
Most groups and forums are free to join, so with only a few hours of your time per week and some consistency, you can grow your startup.
Build a Network with Industry Influencers
A strong online network is the foundation of any sound marketing strategy that utilizes free marketing.
If your network is in need of a boost, take a deep breath and start engaging influential people in your field. Find content you actually like, compliment them and ask about any affordable content writing services for startups they may know of. Follow their social networks – make them take notice of you. The goal is to let them know you care about what they’re doing while showing them you’re worth their time as well.
It’s quite powerful when someone shares your brand simply because they want to.
One Last Word of Advice
At one point every company had 0 followers, 0 likes and 0 shares. Putting time and effort into even just a few of the strategies mentioned will inject your startup with the much needed exposure you are looking for.
So the next time you find yourself thinking about cutting marketing out of the budget to save money, don’t do it! Look into inexpensive digital marketing services for startups. There are ways for entrepreneurs to generate brand recognition that don’t demand huge up-front investments – you have to get creative!
The revenue will come, but until you can pour money into expensive strategies you’ll find there are many low-cost ways to get your message out.