Dollar Shave Club started with a viral video that cost $5,000. They were acquired in July by Unilever for one billion dollars. Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook using word-of-mouth marketing and exclusivity - not a big budget.
We launched SkyBell on a shoestring budget with just an idea for a video doorbell. Three years later, we're one of the fastest growing companies in the Internet of Things industry.
Here are six proven ways you can bootstrap your way to millions, just like we did.
Convert more customers on your website
A great way to increase sales without adding to your budget is by converting more of your website's visitors into customers. You can do this yourself by studying the best practices for conversion funnels, visitor flow and ad copy.
By focusing on our site's conversions, I doubled our conversion rate in two months. We still have work to do, so we've hired a conversion optimization specialist for less than $2,000. Our web developer will incorporate her specific recommendations. We track the results with Google Analytics and Lucky Orange.
You don't need to wait until you have a big budget to hire a PR agency and reach out to media and influencers.
Take action by personally engaging the best influencers in your niche on social media. Become their biggest fans, share their content and ask them questions. You just might earn their attention.
Too many websites have holes in their "on-site" SEO, and their domain loses some of the value of the in-bound links from press coverage or blog mentions. Get every last drop of link value by hiring a good "on-site" SEO consultant and have your web developer incorporate their recommendations.
You can hire a great consultant for $2,000 to $4,000 to analyze your website and give you a list of specific recommendations.
Early in your startup's life cycle, being successful requires that you get the best bang for your buck. To make a big splash, win customers and attract media attention, look no further than crowdfunding.
We successfully raised $600,000 on Indiegogo for our video doorbell - it was one of the most successful campaigns at the time. TechCrunch, Engagement and Fast Company all covered our campaign in the first week - launching our brand and attracting new customers.
Consider using Indiegogo or Kickstarter to launch your product or startup. Study successful campaigns and shoot an effective video. You don't need to pay a lot for the video either. A great message with an iPhone is enough to gain the support you need.
Provide great customer service
Believe it or not, customer service can generate the best ROI in your organization. According to a study by Bain & Company, "It costs 5 to 25 times more to acquire a new customer than retain an existing one."
Outstanding customer service will maximize the lifetime value of each customer you acquire - generating repeat business and word of mouth marketing.
Great customer service requires a formalized process, customer friendly policies, fast response times and talented customer service representatives. It's worth it. Good customer service can turn even the angriest customer into a 5-star review.
Sell to bigger customers
Advertising to the consumer market can quickly become expensive. Targeting a few big customers that order large volumes of product will help you maximize your ROI.
As Chief Revenue Officer of my company, I focused on the largest companies in our space and ultimately closed big business development deals with many of them, including Honeywell, Alarm.com, Amazon and Nest. This created significant revenue for our company without expensive advertising.
Look for big companies that are closely aligned with your mission. Pitch them on how your product or service will delight their customers and provide them with a best-in-class product they can't refuse.
All of these strategies can help launch you into the big time, without a big marketing budget. Put the emphasis on product quality, customer service, and engaging influencers, and you have a road map that delivers organic growth on a small budget.