4 Step “Limited Budget” Marketing Approach
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We all know the saying, it takes money to make money. While I agree with this, we all do not have the luxury of a big marketing budget to get our startup moving forward. This requires us to be resourceful and use what is available to us, in this case, our time. It also forces us to be a little creative and put in more time and effort to build your brand and solution. Here are our 4 Steps…
- Know your business
- Create your brand
- Pick your marketing tactics
- Measure it!
Before we jump into your website, social media or building our leads, let’s first start with a basic strategy. We need to create the limited budget marketing foundation of your marketing plan. This includes what you should already know or what you need to know.
- Your business – What are the company’s strength and weaknesses, core competencies and marketing capabilities. Set your business goals then set your marketing goals such as revenue, customer goals such as traffic and conversion rates of how many potential customers will become customers. Set your limited and realistic marketing budget.
- Your product – Review your product, category and industry. Position how your product solves a problem for someone. You are not selling a product; you are selling a solution to someone’s problem.
- Your customers – What segments are you going after (B2C, B2B), the potential base and what market-share you want to obtain and any behavior trends. Create your Buyer Persona and Customer Journey of who and how they will buy your product
- Your competition – What is there product strength, pricing and features review
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Now the big question in marketing is how do you differentiate yourself from the competition without breaking the bank? First is your image and how customers see you.
- Logo Development – Regardless of the logo you create, continuous branding efforts will build awareness around it. Some logos may be more striking than others but if you are on a budget then do your best. You can find simple logo software at a small cost to purchase to help you develop your logo. Remember some of the most memorable logos are the simplest ones.
- Corporate kit, PR kit and tagline – Create a simple package of your logo, company information, key owners/employees and your story. Make this available upon request. Another item to consider is a simple tagline. What is your product focus or how does it solve the problem. This can easily be used throughout your branding and campaigns. Most of this cost very little but do take up your time to create.
Your website will become your engagement point of contact. It should not serve just as an informative but it should be engaging. If you don’t have a website, you can use a simple landing page until you are able to create your website.
- Responsive Web Presence – If you don’t have a website, I would recommend a simple wordpress template because they are easy to maintain and incorporate blogging (key to your content marketing). Responsive websites also adjust to mobile and tablet formats easily with no extra work involved.
- Your initial costs will include domain registration, hosting with security and development costs but keep your costs down by finding free wordpress sites that require more of your time than money to develop. Again keep it simple. Don’t worry about all the bells in whistles in the beginning and learn how to use white space as your friend so you don’t have to focus on imagery just yet. Focus on what you are selling to your customer whether it is information, a product or service.
Now it’s time to review your startup marketing tactics and how to integrate them together to create value for your startup while on a budget.
Build Your Network of Influencers
The goal is to have others share your brand for you. It sounds simple but it takes time to develop. First follow them on social media and engage with them through comments, feedback, sharing their content. Next within your blog articles, quote them and link back to their blogs or articles. But remember, don’t over do it and become that annoying person everyone hates.
Keep your niche small and start locally
With any limited budget, it is smart to start off with a small audience and stay local. Global sounds great but in time you can reach that milestone. Staying small allows you to focus on a small community of customers and receive feedback on what is working and what is not before going into a bigger market. Locally is good so your can control your marketing efforts and stay within your limited marketing budget
Grow your email list and lead list
The goal is to gain opt-in subscribers. This can be done through a call to action (CTA) on your site or landing page for subscribers interested in receiving valuable content, a monthly newsletter on tips, participating in a contest or promotion. You can use your blog to also grow your email list. The purpose of the blog should be to educate the community on the challenges they face in the industry. Stay away from using the blog to push promotional content.
Publish Content Regularly
The more you publish content, the better opportunities you gain. Publishing content should include website content, blogs and social media. Stay consistent with your content but remember, quality over quantity in content creation. Build a simple plan on what content to create, how often and when best to publish on what channels (blog, social media, newsletter).
As you create content, also determine what content you want to give away for free versus having a person opt-in to receive your content. This creates more value for your content through opt-in. But make sure you are publishing content that brings value to your subscribers.
Blog and be a guest blogger in your industry
The best way to blog is to stay organized in your process. This helps reduce the time wasted on jumping from blog to blog or writing content that doesn’t resonate well with your audience. Create a schedule and list of topics to blog about. This will help you stay focused. Remember to blog about how you are solving issues your customers face.
Another way to build credibility for you and your blog posts is to be a guest blogger in your industry. Start with industry sites and associations and in time you can try to move into publications such as industry magazines. This will definitely give you more credibility as an expert in the industry.
Send out newsletters and updates on a regular basis
Content creation is very important and a good way to help distribute it through a weekly, monthly or semi-monthly newsletter. This consistent method to deliver your content will ensure your readers know when to expect content and also search for previous newsletters that may contain older content that has been archived. A newsletter is also another way that makes sure you create content on a regular basis. It creates a positive routine to ensure you can continuously create the content for your audience.
Use social media wisely
It is easy to over do it with social media. As you keep your target audience small, you can easily choose what social media platform best fits in with your audience. We sometimes get so involved with pushing social media that we end up spending all day with it. Always allocate so much time a day on social media. It is best to create an editorial schedule of what social media platforms to use, how often to send out and list of topics, categories or design approaches for them. For visuals, your smart phone works just as great as any expensive camera on the market. Use this for pictures as well as video.
Depending on your industry, it is best to choose a couple or at the most three social media platforms to start with in the beginning. Everyone should use Twitter for their digital PR and help build their presence. Instagram is a great visual starter social platform. This is great to showcase your product, services and team and ideal to show transparency to your audience. As everyone knows, Facebook is also a great starter and they have great tools to market and advertise to your audience that doesn’t cost a lot. You can run a simple one month campaign for as little as $15 and still get a good ROI.
For social media such as Twitter and Instagram, it would be wise to invest in some applications such as Crowdfire to help you build your follower list. This can run you around $6-$10 a month but is a simple way to boost your marketing opportunities.
Other social media to consider for starters is Pinterest and Reddit
You will only know how effective your marketing efforts if you measure. We tend to think only revenue is the best way to measure. And while revenue is great, it is the result. We must still know what marketing efforts are causing this result. Learn to understand how to measure your target audience and how you connect with them. This could be a simple lead generation marketing campaign which you measure the effectiveness of interest in a campaign and learn how to engage your audience from the awareness stage, all the way through decision-making.
Learn how to incorporate marketing software to post and track your results such as Hootsuite or Sprout. For email tracking, use Mailchimp or Sendgrid. These are simple to use and low cost tools that help you understand the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.
Make sure you add web analytics on your list. This includes Google webmaster, Bing webmaster and Alexa. Use these tools to track user engagement with keywords, search and web visits.
Remember to remain flexible. Not all items mentioned above need to be implemented at the same time. As you build your company and test marketing tactics, results will determine what is working and what is not.
Your budget will determine what marketing efforts can be initiated. Also prioritize your marketing efforts to understand what tool is best to reach your audience.
Founder and Managing Partner of ILLUMULUS – Smart Marketing for smart solution. I partner with companies to create a better data-driven Customer Experience (CX) through technology-based marketing solutions. I share my time between Seoul and Los Angeles. You can find me on Linkedin or follow me on Twitter
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Empower organizations to understand the true value of data by turning data into digital assets. Illumulus provides digital transformation strategies, digital marketing strategies, digital implementation models and create artificial intelligence experiences.