We live in a startup age, but Fortune 500 companies aren’t going anywhere any time soon. That means that your typical chief marketing officer at a startup or small business must compete with those much bigger companies' massive marketing budgets, and that things aren’t going to get any less competitive.
Marketing officers understand this: In the 2017 CMO Survey administered by Deloitte and several partners, CMOs across multiple sectors said they planned to increase their marketing budgets.
But, if you're one of them, don’t despair! Startup marketing can still succeed with savvy use of certain marketing channels. Here are 12 budget-friendly options for you if you're in the role of CMO with a budget:
1. Content marketing
In content marketing, a company offers useful content in conjunction with its product, capitalizing on brain power in its field; a blog is the usual channel and it can be effective.
The Content Marketing Institute, in fact, reported that of the small businesses it studied, those with blogs achieved 126 percent more lead growth than those without. So, suppose the head of a bicycle startup writes a blog post on how to change a tire: The post would likely draw new bicycle enthusiasts to the website, helping those bikers fix flats as well as introducing them to a new bike shop or product.
There's a lot of content on the internet, and consumers use search engine results to sift through it all. Junto Digital Marketing has reported that a mind-blowing 93 percent of online experiences begin with a search engine. To win your company placement on that essential first page of results, you’ll have to optimize your website with appropriate search terms.
You can learn to do a lot of that optimization yourself; check out Search Engine Journal’s free online resources for learning SEO.
3. Word of mouth
The idea of people simply talking about a product to drive results might sound quaint in the digital age, but statistics don’t lie: Marketing firm Invesp reported that consumers are over 90 percent more likely to buy a product if it’s recommended by a trusted friend. To capitalize on this scenario, incentivize referrals by sharing your product. Evernote, for example, rewards referrals by offering users points to use in its platform.
4. Facebook ads
Let’s say you’ve done a little research and realized your customer base is mostly 30-something year-old women in Nebraska. Using Facebook ads, you can skip advertising to 40-something year-old men in New York and instead put those savings toward ads for the demographics most likely to buy your product.
In June, TechCrunch reported that Facebook had 2 billion active monthly users. With targeted ads, your business can sort out which of those 2 billion are worth your marketing effort.
5. Social media
GlobalIndex reported that the average internet user spends about two hours per day on social media. Many of those users are future customers -- and if you use social media wisely, you can integrate your contact with them into their regular social media activity.
Not computer savvy enough to do social media marketing? Those skills can be contracted out. Or, you can learn them yourself: check out DIYGenius’s list of ten free social media marketing courses online.
6. Email marketing
Email is another marketing channel that sounds a little outdated in the modern digital age, but in fact email still matters. Imagination reported that email marketing for B2B companies generates an average $38 for every $1 spent. As with most other marketing channels, offering quality products and content, and knowing your customer, is the trick for getting email marketing to work.
7. Influencer marketing
Remember how, in high school, everyone wanted a certain bag or sneaker like the ones the popular kids had? This principle still applies today. If your perfect customer loves cats,he or she is more likely to trust and admire the star of a cat-themed talk show. If said talk show star advocates your product, then your customer is more likely to buy.
Finding and approaching your perfect influencer may take a little digging on social media, but start with Instagram. MarketingProfs recently reported a "hashoff" survey which identified Instagram as influencers' number one most used platform.
8. Joint venture marketing
If your startup sells bespoke sneakers, you know your ideal consumer is likely to need some bespoke socks, too. By forming a mutual arrangement with a sock startup, you'll find that both companies can boost their targeted market exposure.
Perhaps when your customer checks out at your online store, he or she will see an ad for your partner company's store, and the sock store will likely return the the favor. Along these lines, Massage magazine recently listed several cooperative opportunities for members of the wellness industry interested in joint-venture marketing.
9. Paid search advertising
When your customers look at a search-engine results page, they’re going to see organic results and results, where a company has paid for the privilege. This route may not be free, but it can be worth it: MarketingProfs reported that 29 percent of marketers surveyed named paid search results as one of their most effective marketing tools (just below organic results, which earned 31 percent).
Just be sure to monitor whether your own paid search profits outvalue the time and money you invest.
10. Mobile optimization
TechCrunch recently reported that U.S. consumers now average five hours a day on mobile devices, so it’s essential to make sure your content is easily accessible through mobile avenues.
Your next purchase might come from someone surfing the web on a phone while taking the bus. In addition to mobile optimization, startups can use their industry-specific knowledge and customer research to create unique content through mobile apps.
11. Affiliate marketing
In affiliate marketing, a third party (the affiliate) will promote your product. In return, you’ll share a small percentage of each sale’s profit with that third party. Finding an affiliate network that meets your needs is essential for making this strategy effective.
Okay, so you probably can’t go out and say hi to each potential customer one by one, but you can reach a good number of them by making the most of high-traffic events and opportunities to showcase your product. Marketing Insider Group reported that 67 percent of B2B marketers surveyed considered event-based marketing their single most effective marketing tool.
Marketing on a budget takes a lot of creativity and a strong belief in your product, but using these channels, startups can compete with companies several times their size.
What are your budget marketing techniques?