How to Get (almost) Free Exposure for Your Startup

…and get the most out of your marketing budget

You’ve come up with a game-changing idea, hustled your way to developing a top notch product and now you’re ready to launch (right?). The truth is if you spent zero time, effort, or money on spreading the word about it among your potential customers, it will most likely fail miserably. “If you build it, they will come” just doesn’t work. Getting the right audience to know you is a crucial first step to grow a customer base for your business.

Luckily if you’re struggling to stretch your funds long enough to make a profit, there are strategies you can use to get your marketing and PR done effectively and affordably (or even free). Here are five of them.

Grow your social media following

It may sound obvious, but the role of social media in the process of connecting brands to their customers is only going to grow over the next years and ignoring this resource will cost you a much-needed opportunity to grow a customer base and get free exposure as a startup.

Having a consistent presence on multiple platforms and posting valuable and/or entertaining content that will resonate with your target audience will be key to your social media success.

Also try to keep your responsiveness as high as possible to keep your audience engaged: set up auto-responses whenever possible and take the time to actually respond once in awhile to show your audience how much you care.

This doesn’t mean that you’ll have to post and gain followers across every single social media platform, though. To avoid spreading yourself too thin, identify which platform you should be using based on the demographics and features of each one of them. If your product is strong on its design and visuals, go strong on Instagram and Pinterest. If it is more analytic and data-driven, you may consider going for Twitter and Medium instead.

It’s not impossible to go for all at once either. Even though each platform has its own unwritten rules and dynamics, with a touch of creativity and the help of social media scheduling tools, you can plan your posts for a whole week or even more in one sitting.

Reach out to the right bloggers and reporters

There are dozens of bloggers covering the latest novelties in every niche, and each one of them with a different approach. Finding the ones that will deliver your message to the right audience (a.k.a. your potential customers) may take a little research but it will save you time in emails and interviews.

Connecting with your potential customers is only one way you could benefit from being featured on a relevant blog. Another way would be growing your network. Many sites are themed around the startup world and are closely followed by investors and entrepreneurs looking for actionable news. While you could try aiming at big names like Inc. or Mashable there are dozens of sites where you could easily showcase your brand and get free exposure for your startup.

Write guest-posts on the right blogs

What’s even better than people getting to know you through the voice of a thought leader? Becoming a thought leader and getting them to know you through your own voice. It will take time, but even if you don’t reach a relevant level of authority, you will have a chance to pitch your story to a broader audience. In addition the free exposure for your startup, you will improve your website’s ranking by having backlinks from authority sites.

How to get published on a blog

Twitter is the best social media platform to connect with authors. Show them some love by retweeting, commenting or even DMing (but not stalking). Praise them if you may on your posts and comment on their blog as well. Make sure that by the time you ask them to post on their site, they know who you are and even feel a little in debt to you.

Get the right influencers on board

This one is a little trickier to place on the free side of things. Sure, your project might be interesting enough to catch an A-lister’s attention and get free exposure as a startup from them, but you shouldn’t rely on such a long shot.

The surest way to get influencers to promote your brand for free (at least upfront) is affiliate marketing. You’ll pay only for what they get to sell when they sell it. This is a straightforward way to push your product but not the best way to improve brand awareness and increase your following.

Lastly, there are quite a few reasons why you should try to go for micro-influencers on Instagram, Youtube, and other social media. Their followings are smaller but they boast higher levels of engagement. They are perceived as more authentic and trustworthy, more down-to-earth than their hyper-idolized, macro counterparts. And the best part? Many of them will agree to collaborate in exchange for a free products or vouchers. Not free, but close enough.

Create a word-of-mouth worthy product

The most cost effective strategy of all: just wow them. It won’t work on its own, but right after you make your first few conversions, it may determine how fast your startup will grow, especially if you work with a limited marketing budget.

Design your product to be an unforgettable experience and you will gain a free influencer for every sale you make.

From a unique unboxing to a psychedelic aesthetic, to a quirky customer service, there is no limit to how awesome your product can be or how much you can make your customers can love it.