When you’re bootstrapping a startup, you often need to be incredibly ruthless about only paying for what you absolutely must. If you don’t have the funds to pay someone else to do something, you either learn how to do it yourself, or it just doesn’t happen.
Not marketing a small business is not a viable option, so many CEOs learn how to either market their business themselves or task one of their few partners or employees with targeting marketing in their niche. Here are a few of the low-cost marketing strategies that can help your business thrive without destroying your budget.
For the price of adding a blog page to your website, you can begin marketing content to your customers. Content marketing is one of the very best ways that a business can reach out to the crucial Millennial demographic. More than any other group in marketing history, Millennials expect to be able to research their purchases online. While this group tends to have lower income than their parents, they also tend to be more willing to make luxury purchases, if they can be convinced that the item or service they’re looking at is necessary.
Content marketing helps to show this group that what you’re offering will solve a problem they have, turn around a frustrating experience, or support them through a tradition.
We often think of content in terms of written words, but images, videos, and other non-traditional means can also be used. The key is to focus on informing your viewer, instead of pushing to sell to them.
Once you have content to share, social media is one of the best ways to do that. You can distribute videos, blog links, and other content through the social media channels which are most useful for your business. It’s important to remember, however, that for your social media to become a viable channel, you will need to interact with followers, engage with other pages, and promote content other than your own.
Too often, marketers forget the key term in the names of these online venues: social. We don’t show up on social media just to see cute cats or play silly click-games. We also show up to share those items with our friends.
To really succeed on social media, a company will need to be social, in the context appropriate for that media venue. The rules vary for each platform; make sure to spend time there, learn the norms, and then begin to develop content.
Does your supplier or vendor have a blog or Facebook presence? Make sure to favorite them, and spend some time periodically engaging with their content. Have they shared something that would be interesting to your customers? Ask if they would be willing to guest blog for you, or consider reblogging their content with a link, and your own commentary.
The best content is interactive, whether that’s through links in Youtube boxes, back and forth chat between creators on Twitter, or shared posts on blogs.
Do your fans use your products or services in real life? Ask them to blog about it, create a video showing off the product, or tweet about their experience. Give them an incentive to leave a review on Yelp, or on your local community’s pages. Run a “customer of the month” feature where you showcase their content and their profile. You can even invite small businesses that use your services or products to be featured on your blog.
Everyone loves to see their name in lights, and when your fans create content for you, that both introduces an element of variety into your content marketing, and gives it a sense of being grounded. After all, marketing can easily become too focused on press releases and white papers, which the average user may find unapproachable.
The most key factor in creating an interested and engaged audience is to make sure content is produced at regular intervals. You should create a schedule for blogging or posting that is reasonable and achievable, and then plan it out in advance. Treat the schedule like an important meeting; don’t skip it. Plan for it, prepare for it, and make sure it happens.
While many marketing aspects are expensive, it’s no longer true that your company needs a huge budget to succeed in business. Many companies start out by using their own tools to create social media success, and only after time do they start to focus on hiring and building a marketing team.
What low cost marketing strategies would you recommend to a bootstrapping startup?