As a startup, you’re likely on a tight budget when it comes to advertising. Getting a business up and running is both an exciting and nerve-wracking time. You need to get the word out about who you are and what you have to offer, but the expenses seem almost mountainous at times. Fortunately, there are a lot of things you can do to advertise your new business without spending a fortune.
The Small Business Administration estimates there are around 30.2 million small businesses in the United States alone. Forbes reports 543,000 new businesses start each month, but more than that fail within the same period. The competition is fierce across nearly every industry. If you wish to find success, you have to be smart about how you manage your new startup.
Advertising is one area where you can spend a lot of money without seeing results, especially if you don’t fully know what you’re doing. Fortunately, we’ve scouted the best marketing methods you can do on a shoestring and find success. Here are 14 killer tips to help you promote your startup.
1. Present a Consistent Image
Figure out who you are and what your brand stands for as early as possible in the life of your company. Presenting a consistent image solidifies your brand in the minds of your target audience. When they need what you offer, they are more likely to remember you. You need the same image and tone, whether the user comes into your place of business, visits your website or engages on social media.
2. Study Your Competition
You’re competing with other businesses for a limited pool of customers. Your first step before creating your killer advertisements should be researching your competition. If you want your brand identity to be unique and set you apart from other companies, you must know what advertisements they use and their image. Who is your competition targeting, and how are they doing it? If you aren’t quite sure, you can always hire a marketing analyst to gather information and report back to you.
3. Define Visual Assets
Images are one of the most powerful forms of advertising. In a survey, about 37% of marketers reported visual marketing as one of the most crucial aspects of their efforts. Be true to who you are with the images you choose, and make them as specific to your brand as possible. Create a style guide that outlines the size and look of photos, as well as how, when and where people should use your logo. If a potential customer sees an ad for your new product on Facebook, they should immediately recognize the style and relate it to your overall branding efforts.
4. Know Where Your Customers Hang Out
For your advertising to be effective, it must reach the right audience. Study your target audience and where they are most likely to hang out. In the online space, this might mean advertising on Pinterest to young women but on Snapchat for teens. In the real world, if you offer a service to homeowners, you might set up a booth at a local home improvement seminar.
5. Interact With People
One of the most time-tested ways of getting your name in front of the world is as old as salespeople going from town to town and meeting people. You must get out there and meet your target audience so they can get to know you. Set up a booth at a trade show, offer a seminar online, engage people on social media and even knock on doors if it makes sense for your business model. While you might only reach one person at a time this way, you’ll gain loyal fans who will help you spread the word about your brand.
6. Use Current Customers
Speaking of word-of-mouth advertising, tap into your current customer pool and ask them to tell others about you. People already using your products or services are your best advertisement available. It costs you nothing but a few minutes to ask your users for help spreading the word.
7. Send out Coupons
If it makes sense for your business model, send coupons inviting people to try your product. Luxury products may not benefit from discount models, and you don’t want to train your customers to always expect a discount. However, it is a way to invite people to give you a chance to win their business. One example of this would be a new restaurant. Placing a coupon in the weekly newspaper or in a discount mailer that goes to people’s homes encourages them to come in and give your establishment a try. You may gain a few loyal customers from your efforts without spending much on the direct mail or ad.
8. Start a Loyalty Program
Customer loyalty makes a difference in long-term success and failure. Not only should you seek new customers, but you need to keep the ones you have. One of the best ways of doing that is by offering a loyalty program. It can be something as simple as a discount or giveaway after a specific number of purchases or qualified visits.
9. Reward Your Base
Remember those loyal customers putting out the word about how great your company is? Reward them for their efforts. Send them a free item, offer a special discount or let them earn rewards for every customer they refer. If there is a positive result from their efforts, they’re more likely to keep tooting your horn for you.
10. Create a Video
In a video marketing report for 2019, analysts found 87% of businesses use video as one of their marketing tools. It probably isn’t surprising that video advertising totals about $35.24 million per year. As more and more people buy smartphones and have more dependable and faster mobile access to the Internet, video streaming is the wave of the future. You don’t have to spend a fortune to create a marketing video. Something as straightforward as a few views of your product with text overlaid on top is a great place to start. You can also tell your brand’s story, share details about your office and employees or entertain your audience with tips.
11. Make a Meme
Social media is one of the least expensive places to advertise. You can also target your audience, even narrowing choices down to specific interests or age groups. Memes are a fun way to share information while encouraging people to take your post viral. Create memes related to your industry. The more entertaining the saying and clip, the more likely others will share that meme.
12. Work With Influencers
In a recent survey of marketing professionals, around 80% found influencer advertising to be either effective or very effective. Since you’re just getting started, your budget for hiring influencers may be small. Look for smaller, niche leaders in your industry. These people may be willing to exchange free products for mentions of your brand. Follow social media profiles of those who reach your target audience and start interacting to find the ones willing to work with you.
13. Give a Talk
One thing you need to do early in the life of your brand is to establish authority in the field. You should know more than anyone else does about what you sell. One way of showing off your expertise is offering complimentary workshops and talks. Go to the local women’s group and show them why your cooking system saves time. Stand in front of a group of homeowners and teach them how to change their furnace filters. Hand out flyers about your business. The cost of giving a talk is only a bit of your time, but can result in big exposure.
14. Find a Cause
Tap into a cause you care about and makes sense for your business. Maybe you are committed to saving the environment for future generations. Not only should you work to reduce your brand’s carbon footprint, but you can also host events for the community about the concern. Those who care about what you do are more likely to do business with you to support the effort.
Be Open to Opportunities
Keep yourself open to opportunities to get the word out about your business. If someone offers to write an article for the local newspaper, give them time for the interview. If you get invited to a local chamber of commerce event, attend and brainstorm with other business owners about how they built their business name. Keep your eyes and ears open for local events, publications, sponsorships of youth sports and any other method of growing your exposure. Over time, you’ll find you can invest a bit more in your advertising as your business expands.