10 Cost-effective Marketing strategies for start-ups

It’s not rocket science: your start-up will only succeed if enough people talk about it. Thus, you need a good plan, unless you want to throw all of your hard work away. 

But a marketing costs money. And you have very little money because you don’t have a startup marketing strategy yet.

So we compiled 10 startup marketing ideas to break out of that vicious circle.

A word of warning. You won’t grow into the next big thing overnight. This plan, a bit like SEO, is a long term strategy that will help you establish and root yourself digitally before you start seeing some serious income.

However, by taking inspiration from this short playbook, you will be able to go from start-up to well-known business.

Step 01 - Think and talk locally

The path to a Fortune 500 business starts at home

To start generating some funds and some buzzing, there’s no place quite like home. 

Talk to the local press that a brave, progressive new business is in town. Talk to your neighbour, your grocery clerk, even old friends from college. Attend conferences and networking events, and don’t be afraid to show off and talk to so many people that you start losing track of whom you meet.

Think creative: you could gamify the process and create an entire event surrounding your product, or hold a competition. Think goodly, raise money for charity.

For example, do you sell sports gear? Your local gym will be delighted to host a press-up challenge to raise money for mental health awareness. It’s marketing for them, marketing for your equipment and money for a good cause. Everybody wins.

Do you sell custom-made guitars? Show them off at your local concert. Bonus points if you are the lead singer!

Do you sell recycled paper? Then offer some to your local schools, and don’t be afraid to let people know of your good deeds!

The potential of what you could do right in your hometown are limitless – and you may even meet some people that could help you with your cause! We even have a dedicated service for this type of marketing activities: local SEO!

Recommended read: 12 tactics to boost your brand’s sales using growth hacking

Step 02 - Be a bold storyteller

Show off how your product is changing the local community

What sells better than products? Stories. And your product is just as good as the story encompassing it.

So it’s time for you to be bold. Write articles about your product’s history, or how it helped people in your target audience. 

Make sure you create plenty of videos and images, which will be an absolute necessity for step 3. 

Consider the following:

  • Testimonials
  • Case studies
  • Guides around your product
  • Images of people using your product in their everyday lives
  • Fun facts about the product.
  • “How it’s made”

You can be as creative as you want. If anything, putting a twist on marketing is a great way to get noticed!

Step 03 - Start establishing your social media presence

Use social media to expand beyond your town’s borders

User Interaction is an art form. Your average web user expects to find the information they were looking for almost immediately, according to this research by Truelist.

The ROI on UX investments is 9,900% and 70% of shoppers abandon their carts if the UX on your website is poor

That should be enough to convince you to invest in UX.

UX is a direct improvement of customers’ experience. The process works because it overhauls your website with their needs in mind, allowing you to develop a stronger and deeper connection with your audience.

Topflight’s UX team is always happy to provide you with some free of charge advice. Just get in touch to book a free digital consultation.

Step 04 - Micro-influencers are your ally

Use micro-influencers to establish your product to the right audience

I’ll pay you in exposure isn’t just a thing choosing beggars like to tell artists to try and score commissions for free. It’s a brilliant way to get the wheels of your start-up turning.

Send your product for free to those niche influencers that have developed small but loyal fanbases. You aren’t aiming for big brands with tens of thousands of followers – just small websites, pages and so on that will provide you with free advertisement and maybe even a backlink (if you own a website, which you will by the end of this article).

Why should you focus on micro-influencers? As mentioned in one of our previous articles, micro-influencers are all the rage in 2022, and the best way for small businesses to get noticed without spending a fortune.

Step 05 - Focus on exposure, not money

Create content that helps people in your audience, without thinking about driving sales forward

If you followed the playbook enough, you will have scored a small following around your start-up and your product. Now it’s time to tell the world: “Look, I am the best businessman on the earth, and what I say goes!”

In other words, it’s time for you to focus on your own personal image and authority.

And you talked about your product enough. So it’s time for you to show the world that you know what you are talking about.

Start producing things that help people on those topics that your start-up deals with. For example, you may want to write blogs about all the latest technologies, if you sell computers, or you may want to create recipes if you sell kitchen equipment.

You get the idea. 

Simply enough, create content that elevates your authority on a topic of your choosing. Blogs are a great way to start – did you ever consider hiring content marketing services services?

Step 06 - Create a website and grow a following

Launch a website or even an e-commerce to expand to anywhere in the world using content marketing!

You know what’s better than a loyal fanbase? A loyal fanbase that helps you reach your goals and wants nothing in return.

It’s time to take your small following and use it to boost your SEO rankings, to help you achieve world domination – eventually.

We are talking email marketing, newsletter and blog. Step 5 will have helped you push out content. However, a website with a newsletter is key. And as 80% of customers expect start-ups to own a website, there has never been a better time to get one today. 

Owning a website is absolutely fundamental for just about any strategy that yields extremely high results, such as SEO, PPC and UX design. Don’t know where to start? We can help.

Step 07 - Develop a multi-channel approach

Find new, exciting ways to target your audience

You may start wanting to incorporate different strategies. For example. Your social media campaign goes hand in hand with content marketing and PR, while PPC (Pay Per Click) synergises with SEO.

While definitely more expensive, it’s time to “chase people down every corridor of the building”. 

Understand what works well, do more of that and expand.

For example, do your Instagram videos work great? Then make more videos and also open a YouTube/TikTok account, depending on their length.

Plenty of people find you through your website since you are ranking number one for a local keyword? Then create multiple landing pages to target different local keywords!

Step 08 - Refine your marketing funnel

Optimise buyer journey using your newfound knowledge

Understanding the user journey is something that you must have slowly understood as you followed this playbook. Step 7 helped you understand and gather more of your audience, so now you have to take their hand and lead them from point A to B as efficiently as possible.

Thus, you need to perfect your marketing funnel, AKA the model that shows what happens from the moment your customer becomes aware of your existence, right up to the sale.

Perfecting your marketing funnel is the key to successful growth.

Look at the graph above and think, how does your business compare? Do you know exactly what drives the customer down the rabbit hole?

How could you improve your whole process?

  • Collect feedback using analytics. For example, your customers may be leaving you at your website, despite your social media strategy working wonders. Understand why that is the case.
    It may be poor UX and a message that doesn’t resonate with your audience, or it may be because you aren’t giving your customers enough information.
  • Talk to a buyer. Did they have any doubts while they were going down your sales funnel? Quality buyer feedback is the most important asset you can take advantage of.
  • Study the competition. Of course, you will have studied the competition plenty while launching your startup, but it’s time to do it again.

Look at the big names and emulate what they are doing successfully, and improve on their shortcomings to even beat them.

Step 09 - Make some noise!

Less salesy = more sales. Aim for viral content that is provocative, silly, heartbreaking

Step 9. Look at you, with a fully established startup marketing strategy and a way to regularly create new customers.

It’s time to make that “boom” that will get you from “owner of a start-up” to “established business magnate”.

This step is optional. By meticulously following the guide and adjusting your strategy as it grew, you could quite simply gather traction by continuing to do what you are doing. 

But we need to generate some noise if we want to turbocharge growth. And to do that, we’ll need to get people talking about you overnight.

So, how do we do that?

With viral content. So it’s time for you to go crazy and creative. Here, you can do anything you want, as long as you do it boldly.

KFC got Colonel Sanders as a buff stripper, while Zoom created a virtual background challenge. A while ago they put a frozen banana stand in London to advertise Netflix’s Arrested Development, and brands are throwing themselves in the cursed, chaotic culture that is Internet’s humour and scoring some amazing results.

There’s no cookie-cutter solution to what makes a video go viral. Just do what feels right, and remember the golden rule: You are not after a piece of marketing content, you are after something meant to be shared infectiously.

Step 10 - Start investing in campaigns

Start investing into larger marketing campaigns

It’s now time to expand. Chances are, you aren’t quite yet in the stage where you can afford to build an entire marketing department all by yourself.

The sheer amount of talent and time that marketing takes is an effort that could be better invested into other parts of your business.

Therefore, it’s now time to invest in larger campaigns using third party marketing agencies such as Topflight Agency. A variety of different, high-end marketing channels such as PayPerClick, technical SEO and PR campaigns will allow you to maximise your ROI on your budget.

You may also start considering the implementation of new technology to stay up to date with the latest trends. Topflight can help you achieve a victorious 2022 by giving you the latest advice on bespoke startup marketing ideas and guiding you through the successful implementation of new technologies to broaden your horizon. For example, did you ever consider turning your shop into an e-commerce?

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A final word

There is no secret to success or a foolproof strategy guaranteed to turn your start-up into an industry leader overnight. The only way to be successful is to do what it takes, for a long time. 

Persistence + consistence = victory.

Easier said than done, right? Marketing a start-up is no easy task. If it was easy, everybody would be a successful business owner, which is the main reason why people still hire a digital marketing agency to handle these matters.

A solid strategy will not work without persistence, strong work ethics and an ability to hold your nerves when you see things crash and burn.

Every battle begins with preparation, and you will only get as far as you are prepared to get.

Should this discourage you?

No! It should do the opposite. Success is not a genetic trait – It’s hard work. But you already launched a start-up, so why stop now?