5 Ways to Market Your Startup on a Shoestring Budget

Rare is the business that has so much dough in its startup fund that money is no object when it comes to creating a marketing campaign. In fact, you may have plenty of other immediate uses for the cash you do have on hand, such as purchasing materials, hiring employees, securing leased office, storefront, or warehouse space, and so on and so forth. In other words, a marketing budget may not rank high on your list of startup priorities. And yet, you can’t just expect consumers to find you if you don’t make any effort to put up a few signs around town, so to speak. So if you’re looking for a few good ways to get you name out there and entice people into checking out your new business, here are some marketing ideas that could offer you a lot of bang for your buck when you’re forced to be frugal.

  1. Create a simple, effective website. You might think you have to hire an award-winning web designer and blow a bunch of dough on creating your website, but this isn’t necessarily true. You could probably design your own site with nothing more than basic software, an awareness of standard layout and design (toolbar under the letterhead, neatly arranged blocks of text and graphics, etc.), and a unified theme that speaks to the branding elements you’ve decided upon (color scheme, font, and your company logo, for starters). But you might want to shell out a few bucks to ensure a professional job, so think about hiring a web design student from a nearby college or art institute who can do the work at little cost and use it for his portfolio. Or hire a low-cost pro; they’re a dime a dozen these days.
  2. Learn the basics of optimization. If you can’t pay an SEO pro to optimize for you (and update as needed) you’re going to have to learn to do it on your own. Of course, it’s unlikely that you’ll become a whiz at optimization overnight, but you can learn a lot over time by reading a few starter guides (like ‘SEO for Dummies’), joining forums where you can get the advice you need to stay on track from people who have been doing it for a while (no need to reinvent the wheel), and staying up-to-date with the latest Google algorithms (you can download the PDF to peruse).
  3. Use analytics. If your marketing efforts don’t include analytics you’re making a big mistake. The online arena offers so many tools for you to track and analyze the impact of your efforts that is hard to understand why anyone wouldn’t use them. If you’re not sure what to try, start with Google Analytics and then begin reading reviews to see what might work best for your business.
  4. Get a handle on social media. You might think that you need to sign up for every social networking site of note, including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Foursquare, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, and more. But the truth is you’ll spread yourself a little thin with this strategy. Yes, you can create profiles for free, but you have to put time, effort, and creativity into making them work for you, and if you have too many, all are likely to fail. So pick a couple that appeal to you and give them 100%.
  5. Try new tactics. Every time you turn around there’s some new gimmick to help you market your business online, whether it calls for the creation of animated infographics, viral videos, or smartphone apps for your customers. And while you don’t have to try them all, it’s important to keep an open mind and pay attention to what’s trending. Things change pretty quickly in cyberspace and if you’ve got your finger on the virtual pulse you can take advantage where marketing is concerned.

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