15 cost-effective marketing methods for your startup

Guaranteed to increase your sales

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By Tatenda Nyandoro in Startups

Published 2017-11-15 12:08:19

Growing a business is challenging but growing a business with a limited budget for marketing is far more challenging. Effective marketing is almost always the differentiating factor between businesses which failed; those barely surviving and thriving ones.

Well-funded and established businesses spend fortunes marketing by borrowing your attention while you consume traditional media (TV, radio, newspaper and billboard advertisements) because, the more people who know about your products and services, the more products you’re likely to sell.  

The better way to look at it is; the more people who need your solution, the more people you can help. In doing so, you eliminate the need to market to everyone (which is why it’s expensive in the first place) but market only to the people who need the solution your product offers.

Here are 15 effective and low-cost ways you should use to effectively market your startup or small business on a shoe string budget.


1.      Cold Calling

One of the cheapest but most effective ways of marketing your small business is cold calling. Cold calling can be defined as the fine art of calling or going door to door to potential customers without any appointment set up or prior engagement. Companies like Uber, Google and Facebook have all used cold calling to drum up sales in the early stages of their business. The idea is to build trust by successfully demonstrating that you can help your potential client with a problem they are actually facing in their business. To get the best results from cold calling, make sure you’re in a positive emotional and physical state as your posture and attitude affect your confidence. Draft a script, rehearse it countless times and write down objections potential customers will bring up and how you will answer them.


2.      Flyers

An eye catching flyer with a clear call to action can market your products or services effectively. Be sure to communicate with your graphic designer what message you’re trying to get across and to whom in order to get the most appropriate design for your target market. Use creative language, designs and colors to stand out. Make a lasting impression by having your flyers printed in a different size, shape and texture from the ones being dished out at the traffic lights. You can bundle your flyers with a free sample gift to create increase demand for the flyers.


3.      Business Directories

Industry-specific listing websites and business directories offer a low cost way of marketing powerfully through free and paid listings. Services like Google Business and Google Maps make your website more accessible and rank higher as they are trusted by search engines for relevant information and useful content. For example, if you run a restaurant, you should consider listing your store on Servd and if you sell cars, it will be effective to list your dealership on AutoTrader or Cars.co.za


4.      Facebook Ads

There are many effective marketing methods for your small business but when it comes to return on investment, posting a Facebook Ad can expose you to your exact demographic through targeted advertising for a limited cost. It is easy to setup and all you need is a few minutes to set up your first campaign. Facebook also gives you insights and tracking so you can see how your adverts are performing and tips on how you can improve your advert to reach your desired results.


5.      Google Ads

Google Ads are advertisements that appear among Google’s search results or on other websites through Google’s AdSense program or the Google Display Network. Google ads can be an extremely effective way of driving relevant, qualified traffic to your website exactly when people are searching for the types of products or services your business offers. Just like Facebook Ads, Google Ads also has a number of reliable reporting tools to help you see how many people visit your website, which pages they are visiting and how long the stay on your website enabling you to fine-tune your marketing strategy.

It’s important to do key word research, competitor analysis to find out which keywords will produce the highest return on investment.


6.      Content Marketing

Content Marketing is a strategic, effective and low cost marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. This can be through social media posts, blogs, videos, tutorials as well infographics and whitepapers. According to Neil Patel, author of…….., content marketing averagely costs 62% less than traditional marketing methods, and that 55% of marketers reported that custom content was their top marketing priority. Content marketing improves your SEO, fosters customer loyalty and creates a lasting positive brand exposure.


7.      Email Marketing

Email marketing remains an effective marketing method that is highly flexible, bringing a high return on investment. Everyone checks their email numerous times a day, and by earning the right to email your prospects through newsletter subscription, you are well positioned to capture their attention through helpful content. In order to get results with email marketing it is also important to note that you need to start building an email list as soon as possible. And that starts today. The bigger your email list, the higher the chances of reaching more people who need your services.  Throw in a freebie or incentive to your website visitors in order for them to subscribe to your mailing list. A good example is how online retail stores offer you a R100 voucher for subscribing to their newsletter. They then send you weekly newsletters or specials, putting their brand where you are guaranteed to see it, your email.


8.      Discounts and Coupons

Most markets are saturated with businesses offering the same products. To convince people to purchase or try out your product, you need to incentivize and provide value that outweighs your price. There is no better way to do this than to offer a discount or coupons, which encourage potential customers to try you out for the first time or existing clients to try other products and services you offer.


9.      FREE gifts and novelties

With a similar effect that discounts and coupons have as effective low cost marketing methods, handing out free gifts and novelties is extremely powerful as people hardly say no to anything free, especially if it benefits them or solves a problem they could be facing. Branded corporate gifts, clothing and accessories can market your brand for years while USB sticks, bags and pens can aid people in day to day routines. It is important, however, to hand out gifts that are relevant to your product/service and to a targeted audience that will appreciate the gift and how it resonates with your brand.


10.  Investing in existing clients, customer service

For businesses looking for new business to partner or do business with, the most reliable person to tell them about your product offering and level of service would be one of your existing customers as they can give an unbiased account of how you handle business and treat your customers. It’s therefore imperative for any business owner to invest in positive, healthy relationships with your clients, go out of the way for them and bending backwards whenever possible. If you level of service is indeed stratospheric, your clients will sing your praises and most importantly, people will believe them.


11.  Website

A good low cost marketing plan is incomplete without an effective website. An effective website helps you establish a professional online presence; marketing your services and products to a broad network that goes beyond your businesses current physical reach. It’s extremely important for your website to appeal to the right audience, attract the right visitors and compel them to take action. “Every African entrepreneur (including social entrepreneurs) must have a website. I absolutely insist on this. If you cannot afford one for your business, sell your shoes!” – Business Mogul, Dr Strive Masiyiwa. Get a modern responsive website from only R950 today.


12.  Company Profile & Brochures, Business cards

Your corporate image, identity and colors are critical in building trust and ascertaining legality of your brand. A custom logo and a well-designed marketing material such as business cards, brochures and company profiles, increase your businesses exposure and establish loyalty for better retention of your clients. A good company profile and brochure incorporates well thought-out content; a solution statement detailing your customers’ problem and how you solve it. Also include case studies or any testimonials you have from your existing clients.


13.  Partnering with other startups/companies

Creating mutual beneficial partnerships can boost your marketing efforts beyond your own resources can reach. By partnering with startups or businesses that are in the same industry but offering non-competing products, you can leverage of their traffic, as your product and service offering is relevant to theirs. This helps you gain credibility especially when you partner with more recognized and established brands. Through partnerships, you can create bundled campaigns and promotions which ultimately appeal to and benefit customers by adding tremendous value.


14.  Networking

It goes without saying, people make things happen. Businesses don’t buy from business but people buy from people. Your network is your net-worth. All popular phrases coined to portray the importance of not only knowing people, but how much knowing the right people can positively impact your business. Meeting people, selflessly helping them with their problems and nurturing those relationships leads to credible referrals and sources of business.  This is a long term method to market but definitely an effective and almost free way to market your startup or small business.


15.  Social media

In this day and age, it’s most likely your potential customer is browsing through their social media feed while you read this. And like every other modern consumer, they are going to do so more than 10 more times today alone. By being active on social media through constant posts of relevant, humorous and targeted content, responding to customer service queries and helping people, you can engage your existing customers while attracting new visitors to your website or business.

 A good marketing strategy is one that precisely targets your potential customer demographic and incorporates creativity because it is in your businesses best interest to stand out from other brands. Lastly, make sure your marketing material has quality, relevant content, grammar free copy and a compelling call to action..

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