For a lot of startups, marketing is regarded as a luxury; an expensive cost with little benefits. After all, if you build a great product, people will always come, right? Well this is right and wrong. Admittedly, if you build a great product that is better than what is already in the market, people would naturally want
For a lot of startups, marketing is regarded as a luxury; an expensive cost with little benefits. After all, if you build a great product, people will always come, right? Well this is right and wrong. Admittedly, if you build a great product that is better than what is already in the market, people would naturally want to use your product – when they can find it. As a startup, you need to start selling your products/services from day 1 so you are able to offset costs, unless you are lucky enough to already have funding, in which case you have enough capital for a proper marketing budget anyway.
It is very important for your startup to start thinking about low-cost, effective marketing strategies from day one, so you spend less and gain more. Here are 7 key low-cost marketing strategies that can help you grow your new business:
Great Customer Service – this is actually the best marketing strategy for you to have. If your company currently doesn’t offer customers the best service, you need to shut it down. Seriously. Awesome customer service does 2 things for your business – it keeps your customers coming back and it keeps them talking about your business to their friends who could end up becoming your future customers. Word of mouth is actually the best way to get new customers, not to mention the fact that you save more when you retain old customers than when you are constantly looking for new ones.
Cross Promotions – who are your target market? Where do they typically congregate – both online and offline? Find communities where your target audience meets and think about how to introduce your site into that community. You can also approach businesses that offer complimentary products/services to yours for cross promotion opportunities. For instance, if you sell car accessories, you can approach a company selling cars to list your website on theirs and vice versa. All businesses are ultimately looking for how to enhance their own customer experience and touch points, so if you are able to contribute to this, it becomes a win-win for both companies.
Media Exposure/PR – you can never go wrong with some good old media exposure. Invest in growing a media contact list, or better still hire a PR manager who knows their onions and already has contacts in the media to help you get the word out about your new business. PR is a very cost effective medium for growing your business so you really want to get this one right. Come up with a story for your company with a great angle, always keep in mind why anyone would care to read or publish your article when writing, then find relevant places to distribute.
Content Marketing – people like to do business with companies they trust. A good way to build trust for your business is to establish yourself as a subject-matter expert. Start by identifying platform where your target customers are and create content on those platforms. For instance, if you run a travel agency, look for wedding blogs and offer to write a weekly “experts” column about honeymoon destinations, wedding venues and such like that. You should also take the time to grow your company blog with relevant articles your target market would appreciate. You should also invest in other content materials like videos, infographics, case studies and the like. The important thing is to make sure your content always offers value, so people start looking out for it. When people trust your content, they would ultimately trust your product/service.
Testimonials – people are more likely to buy from you if they see that people like them are patronizing your business too. Invest in getting testimonials from your happy customers and put this up on your website to drive more sales. An easy way to get testimonials is to offer your customers discounts or freebies for sending in their testimonials.
Social Media – I can’t tell you enough how effective social media is in growing your business. Ensure that you have come up with a social media strategy before you start. You don’t want to set up different social media accounts and then abandon them because you don’t know what to post on each channel or you don’t have the time to post. Also take the time to research each channel to see what works and what doesn’t so you aren’t wasting time sending out irrelevant messages. Finally, grow your following and post consistently. You should also go a step further by incorporating share buttons and shareable actions on your product pages so it’s easier for people to share your business.
Networking – last but not least. Invest in cultivating valuable relationships and helping those people out before asking for anything in return. You can start your networking by connecting with the right people on LinkedIn, attending & speaking at relevant events and reconnecting with old friends and colleagues. Remember to have a high quality business card always on hand and arm yourself with the perfect value-added introduction.
When Marketing a start-up company, always remember: you are trying to win customers away from established companies that have much larger marketing budgets than you, and very likely more experience in marketing and who also have already existing relationships with clients and customers. You have one huge asset though: the power of your idea and the dynamism that working in a startup brings; you are able to execute faster and smarter. You absolutely have to leverage this if you are going to be successful.
Have you used any of these strategies in the past? What’s your go-to affordable marketing strategy? Comment and let me know!
Editor’s Note: This piece was written by Chinelo Ngene, Marketing and Communications Manager at Zoto.