How to Start Marketing on a Startup Budget
by Robert McNicholas on June, 19 2017
In order to make money, you need to spend money. This is especially true when it comes to marketing your business. To get people to choose your product or service, they need to be aware of it. To make them aware of it, you need to market it. To market it, you need to invest some money in marketing. What’s a small business with a just-getting-started budget to do?Ideally, you included some money for marketing in your startup funds. The Small Business Administration recommends that you set aside around 8% of your funds for marketing purposes. However, this will vary greatly depending on your location, the type of business you run, and other factors.Did you forget this step? Or did you underestimate the amount you would need? If so, don’t despair. Getting started in marketing your business doesn't necessarily require a huge outlay of cash. It does require some strategy.
Pre-Marketing for Startup Businesses
It’s unrealistic to think your marketing plan can go from 0 to 60 with no stops in between. You need to start slowly, usually by hitting the books. Your very first step should be coming up with a workable budget. Your next should be researching—and by this we mean researching your target audience, researching best marketing practices, and researching what marketing options are available for your price range.
Hopefully, by the end of your research phase, you will find yourself with the following facts:
• Who might buy your product
• How your audience is likely to find out about your product or service
• What appeals to your prospective buyers
• How much money (and/or time) you can devote to marketing
• What a reasonable ROI (return on investment) is for a company in your position
At this point, you’re ready to come up with a plan.
Cost-Effective Marketing Ideas
Now let’s talk about three ways you can stretch your marketing dollar to within a penny of its limits.
1. Don’t hate it because it’s free (or at least very inexpensive). It almost goes without saying that you shouldn't forget about the basics. Unfortunately, some people do. So we’re going to say it: don’t forget about the basics. The good thing is that most of these basics—website, social media account, business cards—are either free or extremely budget friendly. So go ahead and sign your company up for the ones that you think will work for you. Note: it’s a good idea to set your website up with your own domain name (i.e., mybusiness.com); this looks much more professional and trustworthy than if you dangle your business name off of another domain name (i.e., mybusiness.webhost.com).
2. Don’t underestimate the power of local. Social media is a great way to spread the word and get people talking. But don’t neglect good old-fashioned networking in favor of the virtual kind. There are many ways you can go about advertising your business locally for quite a small sum. Some neighborhood coffee shops have a specific day and time set aside for small-business owners in the area to mingle; other companies may agree to promote noncompeting services or products. Find out what is available in your area and work with it.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Referrals. If you have done a good job, you probably won’t have to ask satisfied customers to recommend you to their friends. They will probably be doing this anyway. But it doesn't hurt to ask or even give them an incentive for doing so—such as a percentage off a future service, a gift card, or something along those lines. For tips on how to do this online, check out our post.Some people feel that marketing is a dirty word. It’s not; it’s the business equivalent of sleeping or eating—something that needs to be done in order for you to function.Is your computer slowing your business down? Contact Techsperts Services today and find out why.