As an entrepreneur, you have many decisions to make. How you spend your time and money at your company’s inception will impact the fate of your company in the future.
Marketing is an area where you have tough choices to make.
- Spend hundreds of dollars on ads or invest a few months of time and energy to grow an organic following?
- Develop consistent, high-quality content, or just publish whatever you can, whenever you can?
This article will explore cost-effective growth strategies, their benefits, and drawbacks, as well as, paid alternatives.
Use Social Media Efficiently
If you consistently create great social media content, you will begin to gain followers organically. This strategy will take longer than a paid advertising approach. However, it is an effective way to encourage followers who are more engaged and genuinely interested in your content.
Best Practices for Social Media
- Be consistent. Use a scheduling tool (Missinglettr and Buffer are great options) to optimize your time spent on social media and ensure you keep a consistent schedule.
- Engage regularly. Don’t publish a post and leave! Be sure to stay active in your own comments section and comment on your audience’s posts.
- Use hashtags. Do research and find relevant hashtags to include in your content. Be sure to research each platform since your audiences will differ on each.
Cost-effective social media advertising is possible. Even $35 spent across one week each month can give a boost to your organic efforts. Don’t shy away from small ads: it’s okay not to spend hundreds of dollars.
Focus on SEO Early
Google ads dominates the top of Google search results, but organic traffic can help you show up in the first two pages of search results regardless of whether or not you are currently running an ad. In fact, 85% of search engine results page (SERP) clicks are for organic results.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a long-term game. The sooner you start optimizing, the sooner your site will climb Google’s rankings. Landing even a few spots within the top 3 keyword search result pages can save you thousands of dollars on Google paid search.
Best Practices for SEO
- Use keywords (search terms). You should do keyword research for every page of your website and each blog post you write. Use a tool like SEMRush to identify relevant keywords that are searched frequently, but not too difficult to rank for. For example, keywords that already have tons of results from popular websites might be out of reach for a website just starting out.
- Answer your audience’s questions. Develop educational blogs that directly answer common questions you receive during the sales process. Chances are, your potential buyers are already searching for answers — be the one to help.
- Utilize linking. Include internal and external links throughout your blogs and webpages. Link other relevant content you’ve created or relevant content on other authoritative websites. Studies make excellent external links.
Developing this content can be time-consuming and challenging if you’re not a writer or marketer. If you don’t have the time or experience, consider hiring a freelance writer or startup-friendly agency to handle content development.
Establish a Cohesive Brand
Startups are fighting an uphill battle for brand awareness, often in crowded industries. If your brand is murky, you’ll have no shot at standing out among the crowd.
Instead, aim to have a clearly-recognizable brand. Ensure consistency across all platforms and communications channels.
Best Practices for Branding
- Develop a style guide. Establish brand standards for colors, typography, and imagery.
- Establish a brand voice. Set your grammar preferences (like if you use the oxford comma or speak in the first person) and define your brand’s voice qualities.
Be sure to share this information with anyone responsible for representing your company’s brand.
An agency can help you make some of these decisions if you don’t know where to start. If you don’t establish a clear brand early on, it will be expensive to fix years later.
Great Marketing Can Happen on a Budget
You don’t need to be able to buy Super Bowl ads to have a great marketing strategy. As a startup, there is a lot you can do to establish and grow your brand without spending a penny. As you’re able to, investing more time and money will yield more and faster results.