6 zero to low budget marketing ideas for startups

Ainsley F
Ainsley F
Apr 18, 2018 · 5 min read
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I get it, you have a great product and believe that it would be a smashing hit if you have an ample budget to promote it. The reality is, usually startups are working with a shoestring budget. Even if your startup is funded, you will have to watch out every single cent you spend — you do not want to blow all your investors’ money.

Marketing doesn’t mean you need to run a campaign that is super bowl-size. With a little budget, you still have plenty of options. The ROI could be even greater than having a billboard ad.

Let’s dive in!

Public Relations

Public relations sounds pretty old school but it still works, you will not have to spend a fortune on hiring a PR agency, you can do everything all by yourself. Start with an outstanding press release, Hubspot has a very comprehensive guide on how to write a professional press release.

When your press release is ready, it’s time to think about how to distribute it. One of the free resources I have used is called Anewstip. You can find the journalists that match your niche and send them your pitch. You can also use some press release distribution sites to help you get started, e.g. PR.com.The chance of getting picked up by a journalist through this kind of sites is pretty low, after all, your pitch is not tailor-made BUT your press release might be published on some news sites that could be good for your SEO. Don’t forget — SEO is part of the marketing game.

Content Marketing

In the past decade, content marketing has become such a viral subject in the marketing industry. Everyone is trying to do content marketing as content is king. When it’s done right — content is definitely king as this marketing method is low cost, high return. Successful content marketing will not only increase your brand awareness but will also improve your site SEO, encourage your customer’s engagement and create more sales. From the customer experience perspective, great content helps enhance customer loyalty.

Before starting content marketing, you should have a mindset that “Quality over Quantity”, the more is not always the better. The next step is deciding who should be producing the content. If you are not good at or interested in writing, perhaps you may want to outsource this task to some freelancers. Upwork is a great place to start. If you want to write your own content — that’s awesome as you can save even more. However, content marketing is not just about writing something about your product. You need to keep your audience in mind, your advice or suggestions should make their life easier (help them solve a problem), not hard-sell your product through your content.

As I have mentioned before, content marketing could be a way to improve your SEO. How so? Google loves fresh content! If you have a blog on your website, adding new and quality content there once a week could improve your site’s ranking on SERP. In addition to that, don’t forget about doing your keywords research, incorporate your target keywords in your blog posts, for example, could make your posts appear on SERP and guess what? That means more traffic to your site, more leads and more sales.

My last advice — don’t just create awesome content, you need to promote it! There are many ways to promote your content, you can post on social media, publish on Medium and so on. If you have a little budget, try social media advertising.

Charity

Donating money or materials to charities is not for everyone, this has to be done from your heart. If you do not actually care about the charity mission and you just have the dollar sign in mind — don’t do it as this is not authentic and the relationship with the charities will not last.

If you do want to help a charity, you can do so by donating cash, a certain percentage of your sales or even your products. Usually, the charity would list your company as a sponsor on their website and that’s a way to increase your brand awareness.

SEO

Yes, SEO again. How can we skip that when we are talking about low budget marketing?

Basically, improving your site SEO is a hard, manual work. You do not have to spend on loads of hard earned cash to get some results. If you are not interested in learning SEO or simply do not have the time for it, you can hire an SEO consultant. However, I highly recommend you to at least learn the basics so you will not get fooled by some doggy SEO consultants on the market. Moz is a very good resource, they have a learning center that covers all the basics. It doesn’t cost anything to read their articles!

Sometimes, learning the basics is not enough, you have to keep yourself up to date regarding the latest trends and search engine algorithm updates. You can subscribe to Moz blog as well as some other online publications, for instance, Search Engine Watch.

Social Media Marketing

According to Sprout Social, a social media management platform, 30% of Millennials engage with a brand on social media at least once a month. Obviously, this is a marketing channel that you cannot ignore. Social media marketing is no longer just about the brand, marketers should not treat this channel as the company broadcast. That means, try to minimize the content that is about a seasonal sale, a new design, a new award — focus on building a relationship with your audience instead. Try to start some meaningful conversation with your fans, build a community and of course publish some useful content (see content marketing above). A seasonal sale post rarely can go viral but the quality content has the potential.

Last but not least — YOU

OK, that’s very obvious but most founders miss it, YOU are one of your marketing channels! You can actively promote your product or service through networking, seminars, etc. Whenever you have an appropriate moment, don’t forget to say “Hey, by the way, I just launched an app that could be useful for you, go to the App store and download it. The name is…” Of course, do it naturally!

Conclusion

I understand how tough it is to get your brand noticed when you do not have much left for marketing after spending most of the money on product development. However, there are some low-cost channels that you can try out. They all require lots of effort and time — I am not going to sugarcoat that but all your hard work will pay off!

Have you tried the above marketing methods? Do you have any advice? Share with us!

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The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +775K people. Follow to join our community.

Ainsley F

Written by

Ainsley F

Marketing & customer service professional in Sweden. Contributor: UX Planet | The Startup. *all opinions are my own.*

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +775K people. Follow to join our community.

Ainsley F

Written by

Ainsley F

Marketing & customer service professional in Sweden. Contributor: UX Planet | The Startup. *all opinions are my own.*

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +775K people. Follow to join our community.

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