When it comes to marketing, new businesses have an increasingly difficult time competing against better-funded and well-established companies. However, even startups on a shoestring budget do in fact succeed, regardless of the fierce competition they face. The key is in creative and effective marketing.
Marketing doesn’t have to be expensive, in order for it to be efficient. There are several low-cost marketing strategies that can help you outrun even the best-funded competitors. It comes down to how, when and why you use it. With that in mind, here are a few cheap marketing ideas you can use to crush competitors.
1. Get Social
Social media platforms are the obvious choice when it comes to cheap marketing. Many businesses leverage social media to boost visibility, presence, and awareness about their company. However, simply having a presence on a social network won’t miraculously give you an advantage. You have to build it up.
Startups should start building a presence on social media even before they actually have a product designed. Use social media to tell your story online and connect with people in your industry. Interact with them. Like, follow, share, and comment on their posts.
If you invest time in connecting with influencers in your industry and establish a meaningful relationship with them, you’ll have a consumer base familiar and interested in your product by the time you get it ready for sales. Don’t wait until your product launches – start using social media to tell your story and building relationships now.
2. Solve a Problem
There are over 3 billion Internet users in the world today and most of them are consumers looking to solve a problem. If you can find a unique problem and develop a solution, you won’t have to spend a dime on marketing. That’s because niche-specific consumers will promote your product for you.
This doesn’t mean you need to invest into developing an entirely new product. Instead, you could add product features that serve niche-specific needs. Big companies don’t bother with niches. They place a product on the market and niche customers buy it because they have no alternative. By presenting those consumers with a product that serves them specifically, you have an entire consumer base ready to come over to your side, and that is a major advantage if there ever was one.
3. Do SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) is both a cheap and an expensive marketing strategy. In recent years, Google had changed it’s ranking algorithms so that big companies can’t game organic search results with their big budgets. If you produce good content Google gives you the opportunity to rank well for it. Mastering SEO and content marketing in general, you can help you cut through the noise and effectively reach your customers.
Don’t know where to start? There are a million amazing free resources out there. Start with these:
- 7 Content Marketing Questions Answered For Startups and Entrepreneurs
- Content Marketing for Startups — Step-by-step Guide
- How 7 Startups Skyrocketed to Success with Content Marketing
- The 40-Point SEO Checklist for Startups
- A Startup’s Guide to Building a Content Marketing Strategy
- The Beginner’s Guide to Mastering SEO for Your Startup
- SEO for Startups – 5 Ways to Use Brains Over Budget
4. Spread the Love
If there’s a time to crush competition and get an advantage, it’s the holiday season. During the holiday season, consumers get excited and are willing to spend. They’re also looking for the most appealing offer they can find. Being able to grab people’s attention can mean the difference between gaining an advantage or falling behind.
But instead of running a crazy sale or promoting your own products. Show a little love to your customers during the holiday season by sending them a freebie, such as Christmas gift cards as a small thank you for being your customer.
You’ll find that giving a few bucks away cost less than running an expensive ad, and the ROI is better. Even small customer gift ideas will keep your company top-of-mind during the holidays and increase your customers’ word-of-mouth recommendations. It’s the best referral marketing dollars you can spend.
5. Go Offline
In the world where the digital noise can be too much to bear, going offline can prove to be a gold mine. Experts argue that traditional marketing is dead and that debate is ongoing since 1994. Today, traditional marketing is still alive and kicking, proving to be as efficient as it ever was. Modern consumers are constantly bombarded by offers and promotions via digital channels. Most businesses have forgotten about traditional means altogether.
This can present a unique opportunity as not every consumer is online constantly. You can come up with cheap ways to give offline consumers a nudge in the right direction. A well-placed newspaper or magazine ad, a billboard commercial or direct mail with the right message are all excellent traditional ways to get consumers interested. With the right mix of digital and traditional marketing, your business can gain a significant advantage over competitors, leaving them in the dust.
Need some help coming up with ideas? Here’s a quick list of cheap traditional marketing tactics:
- Invest in good quality business cards for all staff
- Sponsor a local sports team
- Go to a free networking event using Meetup
- Cold call
- Enter relevant awards for your industry and location
- Leave swag at key locations
- Speak at events
- Offer cross promotions with businesses sharing the same target customers
Whether you engage in traditional marketing or digital marketing, it doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune. With a little creative thinking and imagination, you can produce effective marketing campaigns without losing an arm and a leg in the process. Even cheap marking ideas work well, as long as they resonate well with your audience.
Editor’s Note: This article is part of the startup tools blog series Grow Your Business brought to you by the marketing team at UniTel Voice, the virtual phone system priced and designed for startups and small business owners.