How to make the most of your startup marketing budget
Money is often tight in a startup - with 82% of initial funds usually coming from the business owner and their immediate network of friends and family. And when so many startups fail to make it past the first few years, every dollar spent counts!
So you cut costs in your startup marketing where you can. But don’t fall into the temptation of forgoing marketing altogether to opt for “traditional sales” strategy only. If you cold call someone, what are the chances they are going to buy a product they’ve never heard of? No matter how wonderful your product or service is, people need to hear about it first. An investment in marketing will also help you build a brand, something that has long lasting effects on both current and future customers, as well as learn more about your audience – and that can be translated directly back into your sales strategy.
Investing in marketing does not mean you have to spend as much as a huge, established organization. Understanding best practices and discovering what works best for you can make your limited budget go a long way. Here is how to make the most of your startup marketing budget.
If you’re a startup, that means you don’t have previous years of SEO tactics and pay-per-click ads in place. Chances are you don’t know which keywords to focus on. Before you invest in a single digital advertisement, make sure you determine the value of your keywords. Instead of spending money on say 10 keywords at once, whittle down your list to the best.
If you aren’t sure where to start, ask yourself: what would a consumer search for to find my website? Also, take a look at your competition with that keyword and keep in mind you will be fighting for attention against them. Long-tail keywords (words with more unique qualifiers, IE small blue shirt versus just shirt) are more likely to convert.
Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment
Established businesses can make a marketing plan for an entire fiscal year. They know projected profits and can make a budget based on business in each individual season. When you first start off, don’t be afraid to experiment with different marketing tactics. For example, try running two different keyword pay per click campaigns (PPC) using half of your PPC budget. Once the two weeks are over, move the funding away from the less successful plan and focus on the one yielding a better ROI.
Make Meaningful Relationship With Other Small Businesses
Utilize local networking groups in your area, especially ones catered to startups or within your specific industry niche. Not only can you learn valuable business tips, you can found valuable business relationships. Maybe you’ll meet a vendor who has better pricing due to being local, or find someone you can partner with to pull off a promotional event. If you are a business with a primarily local audience, this is a great start at getting yourself established as a part of the community. You want people to think of you first when they think of your product/service in your area.
Follow Current Established Trends
A company who’s been around for a while may struggle to part ways with old marketing tactics that aren’t as fruitful anymore. But as a start-up, you don’t have to worry about that baggage! You are free to focus on new and upcoming trends as they become more mainstream. For example, video content (particularly live video) is on the rise.
This doesn’t mean you chase every new social network or fad: use a discerning eye and see what’s working for other people in your industry. You have to remember that every advertisement is vying for a consumer’s time. Consumers are constantly bombarded by messaging, both digitally and physically - and you’re trying to be remembered. This is is where embracing new trends can pay off, by making you stand out as a brand that’s modern and relevant.
Repurpose and Recycle Applicable Content
Did you create an awesome graphic for a Facebook infographic? There’s no reason that should be the only place you use it! With a little bit of tweaking, that same graphic could live somewhere on a permanent page of your website, or even be present in a print piece that you hand out to clients in your office. Make sure your creative assets reach their full lifespan.
Don’t be afraid to re-promote old blog posts and videos on social media, assuming enough time has passed since their last mention. Chances are, some of your audience missed your post the first time around, especially if you have experienced rapid growth and are seeing an influx of new people to your page.
If you take anything away from this post, remember this: spending more money does not equal better marketing. Just because you have limited resources doesn’t mean you can’t create a strong brand voice. Focus on quality over quantity and make valuable relationships. Do this successfully and next year, you might just find yourself with a bigger budget!
Nick Rojas is a business consultant and writer who lives in Los Angeles. He has consulted small and medium-sized enterprises for over twenty years. He has contributed articles to Visual.ly, Entrepreneur, and TechCrunch. You can follow him on Twitter @NickARojas, or you can reach him via email.