Entrepreneurs are dreamers - a new idea, an exciting product, or a niche service. However, the critical difference that startups may view as a disability is a lack of money to dedicate to marketing. The good news is that all startups have a limited marketing budget, but many ideas have turned into profitable ventures through smart marketing on a tight budget. Here are 5 ways to market your product or service without burning a hole in your pocket:
1. Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is all about networking on platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. A blog can also be a very effective way of getting your product visibility. You can choose a social platform and use it effectively to generate interest for a new launch. The beauty company, Glossier is an excellent example of building a loyal fan base on social media and turning it into e-commerce. Emily Weiss, the founder of Glossier, launched a beauty blog, IntotheGloss.com, in 2010, and four years, Glossier, the beauty product line was up and running. The blog speaks in an authentic tone that speaks to the millennial customer. They use photographs taken on phones rather than high-fashion photography and pick up on popular social media content such as memes and adorable animal pictures to boost their following. Glossier used teasers of their beauty product line on Instagramterprior to the actual launch and triggered a significant expansion of their followers. The content on Glossier is tied into the posts on their blog, and the product is the main focus of their blog features. Social media marketing does not need to be an expensive venture. If used effectively through engaging content that appeals to the target audience, a startup can establish a foothold in a crowded space.
2. SEO-Focused Marketing
Set up keywords and use them across all online content you post to get the most out of SEO marketing. You can blog about your product frequently or post on social media with the right keywords and continuous SEO content to enhance your visibility. You can research the most appropriate keywords through Google Analytics and other free resources online. Mint, an app that helps you plan your budget, used its SEO-driven blogging portal, MintLife, aggressively to market its app, engage customers, and earn top search page rankings. It is essential to track your metrics to monitor conversion rate and engagement using SEO-driven tactics. Mint used a metric-based approach to drive traffic to their site.
3. Referral Marketing
An easy and cost-effective way to market your product is to offer customers discounts on products for every referral. Dropbox used a highly successful and equally simple referral program to drive growth and double its user base every three months. For example, a single Facebook post by Dropbox advertising-free space units for, say, two referrals brought in two references without added advertising. Brands such as Evernote and Uber too used referrals to enhance the usage of their services. Statistics (www.nielsen.com) state that 92% of consumers trust referrals from people they know, which only shows the powerful influence of referrals on sales.
4. Email Marketing
Email marketing allows you to speak directly to a consumer and add a personal touch to an impersonal product. For an email to be a useful marketing tool, it should innovatively describe reasons to buy a particular product, sound personal and engaging, and add information on how the customer's information benefits. Zappos, the footwear brand, uses a creative and effective email strategy to market its product and stand out from the competition. Zappos has harnessed lifecycle email marketing, or email targeted to the stage of the customer as they make their purchase. Generic email can feel like bulk advertising and does not always engage the customer. Lifecycle emailing uses data-driven information to send an email depending on whether an item has been bought, abandoned in the cart, or needs re-ordering.
5. Influencer Marketing
Influencers are celebrities in their own right and usually have amassed significant social media (up to about 1 million) fan bases giving them the ability to ‘influence’ their followers with their opinions and choices. Micro-influencers are niche influencers who are genuine and relatable in a smaller sphere and usually have under 100,000 followers. Influencer marketing can help you generate sales if an influencer endorses your product or service. You can guest post on an influencer’s site to attract their attention or offer discounts and free products to the influencer to interest them. An influencer’s recommendation can convert a large number of followers into consumers through a single post. Several influencer marketing platforms are available to help you find the right influencer and launch your brand campaign.
Don’t let a limited budget hinder your aspirations as a startup. Many highly successful companies began with minimal financial resources and used innovative approaches to market their services and cultivate a loyal user base. Look for creative and low-cost strategies to get your business out there with the simple tips outlined above!