When you’re just launching a new small business, funds are most likely very tight. Surviving that first year is likely going to be the hardest part of getting your startup off the ground. But how can your startup thrive if your marketing budget is practically zero? You have to get creative and find some free or very inexpensive channels for getting your name out there. Here are six ideas.
Develop a content marketing strategy
Content marketing is all about establishing trust with potential clients by setting your brand up as an authority on subjects relating to your field. If you consistently create high quality content, people will start to notice and follow your brand to continue to have access to the things you’re publishing. The hope is that followers who like your content will stay associated with your brand and will eventually turn into regular customers. Just don’t take advantage of your content platform to shamelessly self-promote; stick to offering value to your customers and they’ll want to become customers on their own. A company blog on your business’s website is a great place to start.
Build a social media presence and let your followers advertise for you
Starting a Facebook page for your business or any other social media account is completely free. Your social media accounts can be an extension of your content marketing strategy and another outlet for sharing content. Another great thing about social media is that people who connect with you there can become a form of free advertising as they share your page with their friends who might be interested.
Build relationships with influencers
When you’re just starting out, your own audience is most likely pretty small so forming partnerships with influencers who already have the attention of your target audience is a must. Once you’ve identified who your target audience is, find out which bloggers and Youtubers or other online personalities are important to that audience. Follow them on social media. Share their content on your social media pages, engage with their content by commenting on it. After a while you can offer to feature them on your content channels and you can offer to create some free content for them. It’s another form of free advertising when you get the attention of another person’s audience.
Launch an SMS campaign
While not free, SMS marketing is one of the most cost effective channels because it only costs pennies per text message and 98% of the texts you send will be opened and read by recipients. SMS is perfect for creating a loyal customer base since only your return customers are likely to give you their phone number and permission to send texts to it. It’s a great channel for sending time-sensitive messages like flash sales, mobile coupons, appointment reminders, and order/shipping notifications.
Apply online for business awards
Seek out business awards for startups and apply for any relevant ones you find. Winning an award can mean some funds and could even lead to sponsorships from established brands. At the very least it will put your startup on the radar for potential customers and partners and it will get you some free advertising.
Write press releases
If you win an award, secure a patent, release a new and exciting product, or accomplish anything newsworthy, you don’t have to sit around hoping for newspapers or magazines to pick up the story. You can write your own press release and send it off to publications who write for your target audience. It’s another free way to market your brand.