If you’re funding your start-up out of your own pocket, you probably don’t have much money to spend on advertising. Traditional marketing channels like print ads can be expensive, so they may be out of your budget. But that doesn’t mean you can’t launch a successful business—you’ll just have to get creative and find start-up marketing alternatives that don’t cost as much.
To help you nail down your marketing strategy, here are a few ideas on how to promote your business and generate new leads without breaking the bank.
Six Start-Up Marketing Alternatives for Bootstrapped Businesses
If you’re looking for cost-effective start-up marketing alternatives, try networking. Word of mouth is free, so if you can get people in your industry talking about your products and services, you’ll be able to build your brand without spending much.
Figure out which events, networking groups, and conferences your ideal customer attends and try to go to at least a few every month to drum up business.
When you meet new people, make sure you ask them questions about their life and what they do. This will enable you to build rapport with them and potentially identify their pain points so you can pitch them your product or service.
2. Work With Smaller Influencers
If you’re on a tight budget, popular influencers with hundreds of thousands of followers are probably out of your price range. But content creators who have a smaller following may be happy to promote your business in exchange for just a few free products.
You’d be surprised at the number of sales you can generate by partnering up with micro-influencers in your industry. It’s one of the best start-up marketing alternatives to try if you’re short on cash and can’t afford paid advertising.
3. Launch a Company Blog
Starting a blog is a great way to attract visitors to your website and position your business as an authority in your industry. If you do keyword research to find out what your target customers are searching for on Google, you can write informative articles that will answer their questions and get them interested in your products.
You don’t have to invest in expensive software like Ahrefs that costs thousands of dollars per year to be able to research keywords effectively. I’ve been able to rank my content high up in search engines using free tools like AnswerThePublic and Ubersuggest.
4. Build an Email List
According to a recent study by McKinsey & Company, email is 40 times more effective at converting new customers than social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. That’s why it’s important for start-ups to launch a newsletter and build an email list.
One way to get newsletter subscribers is to create a lead magnet your audience will find useful, like an ebook or printable. Then you can link to it at the end of relevant blog posts as part of your call to action.
You can also advertise your newsletter on social media and include a sign-up link in your email signature and LinkedIn bio.
5. Run a Contest
Running a contest and giving away a few of your products for free is one of the best start-up marketing alternatives because it builds buzz around your brand. If you post about the giveaway on social media and give people entries for following your company’s accounts, you’ll be able to grow your following without buying paid ads.
You can also give extra entries to people who tag their friends in the comments, which will help make more people aware of your products and services.
If you don’t have a lot of money to spend on advertising, you can still help your business gain traction by using cheap or free strategies like networking and launching a company blog.
With a little creativity and luck, you may get even further than if you relied on more costly marketing channels.
6. Work Social Media
In the past ten years, the importance of social media has grown considerably. In fact, the average Facebook user spends about an hour a day on the platform – and sites such as Instagram, Tik Tok and Twitter have grown increasingly important for marketing and publicity. Social media, however is very competitive. A successful social media marketing formula usually starts with a great message, or piece of content (such as a video, article or picture). Then it is typically promote via social media channel, often using a third party service (for example, buying reddit upvotes), and then monitored and updated periodically.
Social media ads, such as Facebook Ads, Pinterest Ads or Twitter ads are also an effective means of promoting your message on social media. These however, generally have higher costs than organic marketing. In any event, regardless of the promotion method, a great message or compelling content is really what drives social media marketing.
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Vicky Monroe is a freelance personal finance and lifestyle writer. When she’s not busy writing about her favorite money saving hacks or tinkering with her budget spreadsheets, she likes to travel, garden, and cook healthy vegetarian meals.