Marketing is the ultimate catch-22 for a startup or small business, since a startup is like the cliché about a tree falling in the forest: If no one hears about you, your top line won't make a sound. It's almost impossible to raise awareness, generate leads, and land customers without spending money on marketing.
Unfortunately for startups, working capital is often in short supply. Not only do you not have the luxury of committing to a comprehensive marketing plan, you can hardly commit to a micro-plan. Fortunately, there are many creative ways to get your message out.
Take care of the basics.
In a CNBC/ SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey, entrepreneurs claimed that they knew the importance of a website, however nearly 45 percent of small businesses did not currently have a website for their new business. Of those that did, only 36 percent used their websites to share news, updates and offers with potential customers. The same was true for Twitter accounts, Facebook strategies, free email marketing, and placing their business on online review sites. Small businesses can overlook many easy-to-use-- and in most cases free-- ways to market their business.
But small business should not stop there. Early on at LogoMix-- in fact, we still do this today-- when someone created a logo on our website, we sent them a personalized email saying thank you. We took it a step further, sharing images of their logo on our other products so they could see what that could look like in real life.
Not only were those emails an effective marketing strategy, they also served to showcase the power-- and ease of use-- of the technology we had developed. Creating those emails took time, but the return was far greater than it would have been from conventional marketing spending.
Why? They weren't auto-responses. They weren't canned. They were personalized. They were authentic. And they drove our business. (They still do.)
Consider your budget.
First, determine what you can spend. Don't start thinking about campaigns, strategies, or tactics until you have a realistic budget figure. Then make sure you put the basics are in place: Website, email marketing, placement on review sites, and social media accounts.
Keep in mind you don't have to appear on every social media platform.
When we first started marketing LogoMix on social media we promoted content on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest, but we soon found that Facebook was the most effective platform since that's where our customers spent the most time. We adjusted our strategy accordingly. And so should you, once you have sufficient data to make smart decisions.
Get creative with the money you have to spend.
Think about your customers. Think about what matters to them. Think about where they spend the most time-- physically, sure, but more importantly, virtually.
And then think about how you can connect in a genuine way.
That might be harder than simply throwing what money you have into a cookie-cutter marketing plan, but it will also be vastly more effective in landing customers and generating sales and revenue.