How to Market Your Business on a Startup Budget
By now, every entrepreneur knows how essential marketing is to business success — but not every entrepreneur can afford the highest tier of marketing services. When your startup is shiny and new, you don’t have the budget to pay for extensive email campaigns, video marketing tools, social media promotion and more. In fact, you hardly have the time to research your target audience sufficiently to develop a marketing strategy. However, that doesn’t mean you can forget about marketing for the foreseeable future. Instead, you need to be craftier in your marketing efforts to make every dollar (and every minute) count. Here’s how you can get the most out of your startup marketing efforts even when you’re short on money and time.
Get as Much Funding as You Can
It is never too late to get more funding. Whether your business is a decade old or launched an hour ago, there are places you can go to acquire more capital to grow your business and fund your marketing dreams. Though the following tips do make marketing as cheap and easy as possible, all marketing efforts cost money, so the more green your business has, the better.
Therefore, to keep with the theme of the post, here are a few cheap and easy funding methods your business can use to get the bare-minimum funding for your marketing efforts:
● Loans. It certainly is daunting to take on debt to fund your business, but for most business owners, small business loans are essential to success.
● Grants. Grant money is usually hard to come by; the government only offers it to specific types of businesses or business owners, like those in science and tech or else women and people of color. Still, it doesn’t hurt to apply for a few.
● Angel investors. There are angels on Earth: rich people looking to invest in small business. You can find interested angels online, or you can contact them through your business network.
● Friends and family. This isn’t the best idea — especially if your friends and family are tight-fisted with money — but it can be a good way to get some money into your business if you ask the right people the right way. There are two bad funding methods that you might be drawn to: crowdfunding and bootstrapping. The problem with crowdfunding is its secret costs: You need to invest heavily in marketing your idea before anyone will even know about your crowdfunding campaign, and then crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo take a percentage of your earnings. Bootstrapping is also secretly dangerous because it mixes your business and personal funds unnecessarily. Thus, you should stick to the above-mentioned funding methods and make do with what you can get.
Reach out to Everyone You Know
Even if you don’t feel comfortable asking friends and family to contribute to your business financially, you can still ask them to participate in your marketing efforts. You should give out samples of your products or show them examples of your services and tell them to spread the word about your business to their family and friends. You can even introduce a loyalty program where their referrals qualify them for discounts or other perks. Since word-of-mouth marketing remains the best way to gain new customers, this is a must-do for businesses short on marketing funds.
Go Deep Into Email Marketing
Like word-of-mouth, email marketing seems like a tactic that should be way past its prime by now, but studies show that email marketing remains one of the most effective methods for connecting with your consumer audience. Plus, it requires little time and less money to set up an effective email marketing campaign; all you need is customer email addresses, engaging content and an effective email marketing tool.
Blog Like Your Life Depends on It
If the term “blog” feels old, it’s only because you are associating it with your old LiveJournal. In truth, blogs are little more than written content posted on your site (or others’), and written content is always beneficial to your business. On a set schedule, you and your team should be publishing blog posts on your company site, incorporating keywords that might draw customers to your business. Additionally, you should strive to get your links onto others’ websites, perhaps by engaging in guest posting. If you can create your own high-quality written content quickly, this is one of the best cheap and easy marketing solutions.