4 Ways to Market Your Startup On the Cheap

Nothing spurs the imagination like bootstrapping with very little money to work with.

learn more about Kc Agu

By Kc Agu

Izusek | Getty Images

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

If you own numerous online businesses like I do, and you want your business to grow, then you almost certainly need some form of marketing strategy. Marketing, in its most basic sense, is a method of getting people to know about your business products or services. While this definition holds true, you will be shooting yourself in the foot if you embark on a marketing journey armed only with this information.

I like to lump marketing failures into two broad categories -- "bad marketing" and "wrong marketing". And they are as bad as each other. Imagine making a new product or developing a unique service, then spending time and resources on poorly executed marketing only to see little or nothing in return. Either of the two mentioned categories will do that to you.

You cannot paint all kinds of business with the same marketing brush and expect good conversion rates and market penetration. To choose the right marketing strategy, you need to keep in mind your product/service, your business model and your marketing strategy among other things.

Related: 5 Steps to Creating a Killer Marketing Strategy

At the end of the day, however, it always comes down to one thing -- money. It is the primary resource of any form of marketing. The financial capacity of your business can dictate the marketing strategy you employ for your business.

Marketing is a sensitive yet vital aspect of business growth, especially if you are running a new business and probably have not yet broken even. This is the time to be extremely smart about the way you spend your marketing budget, especially as you probably do not have that much to spend anyway. Frugal spending is a gift in situations like this -- one that every startup entrepreneur has to learn.

Below, I have outlined a few strategies to employ in order to make sure that your marketing campaigns are a success without going over budget.

1. Prioritize uniqueness over spending.

You can count yourself lucky if you have enough money in your kitty to spend on marketing while utilizing the best business model. However, if your product/service is not solving a problem in a more efficient way, all the money in the world will do you no good in the long run.

The key to successful market penetration is not spending more on marketing than the competition -- it is by having a better product. Any good quality product or service can literally sell itself.

Take your time and create a product worth buying. The better and more saleable your product is, the less you need to spend marketing it. No amount of marketing will compensate for a poor product, so focus on outsmarting your competition, not out-spending them.

2. Be specific about your target audience.

Specific targeting is an effective way of making sure that you maintain a low budget to conversion ratio. That is, it helps you make sales while spending the least possible amount of money on marketing.

Related Book: 80/20 Sales and Marketing: The Definitive Guide to Working Less and Making More by Perry Marshall

When trying to increase visibility and build a customer base for your business, bear in mind that this is not the time to please everybody. Not everyone is going to like what you offer -- and honestly, not everyone should. Therefore, when developing your product or service, do so with a very specific subset of people in mind. Those people are the only ones you should be concerned about reaching -- no one else.

The more specific your target audience, the less you spend. Put simply; go where potential customers can be found. For example, if you're running an online law outfit, get on MartinDale. You have a dentist outfit; get your business on Emergency Dentists.

Just try to focus your startup resources and your team power on the core places your audience are. The more energy you and your team invest in that aspect, the more positive results you are likely to get. It all boils down to being keenly focused about who you target.

3. Leverage online collaborations and reviews.

All feedback or reviews you receive for your product or service is vital to your growth -- whether it is positive or negative. Positive feedback is a sign that you are doing something good, while negative feedback is a sign that your product needs to improve.

One way to get people talking about your business is via online reviews. I occasionally do this whenever I start a new business or offer a new product. I contact a few influential bloggers with massive followings and get them to write a review about my business or a particular product.

It's far cheaper than most conventional ways in which to reach out to a target audience. Most people tend to trust figureheads that review new products on the market.

4. Leverage the power of social media.

The best part of creating awareness on social media is that it is free and provides you with a massive network of potential customers. You would be doing yourself and your business a serious injustice if you ignore the potential of social media to grow your business by increasing your visibility and your potential customer base. Constant and meaningful interaction with both current and potential customers is a powerful method of creating a larger audience for your business.

Related: 3 Creative Marketing Strategies Inspired by the Music Industry's Collapse

Above all, identify the social media platform(s) that reach your customers best and post regularly (at least three times a week) about your industry, your business and your products. Use this to learn who your audience really is. When you have a clearer picture of who is reading, liking and sharing your content, you can then begin to scale up your efforts.

Kc Agu

Consultant, coach, public speaker, investor and freelance writer

Kc Agu is a startup consultant, a success coach, public speaker, an investor and a freelance writer.

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

Have More Responsibilities at Work, But No Pay Bump? Use This Script to Get the Raise You Deserve.
Black and Asian Founders Face Opposition at All Levels — Here's Why That Has to Change

Invest in Yourself: 10 Things Every Working Woman Should Do This Year

When striving for success, it is easy to forget about your mental and physical health. But without health, you cannot fully succeed. Follow these ten lifestyle strategies for success in your personal and professional life.

Business News

This OnlyFans Star Was Once Part of a Fanatical MLM Cult. "I Was Forced Into Celibacy."

Cami Strella was lured into a multilevel marketing scheme but escaped to start her own six-figure-a-month business.


This Is the Overlooked Tool Your Business Needs to Reach Your Target Audience

Voice search is growing, and your business can utilize this important functionality to get more customers. Here's how.

Thought Leaders

5 Small Daily Habits Self-Made Millionaires Use to Grow Their Wealth

We've all seen what self-made millionaires look like on TV, but it's a lot more subtle than that. Brian Tracy researched what small daily habits these successful entrepreneurs adopted on their journey from rags to riches.

Business Ideas

How to Make Thousands of Dollars on the Side As a Virtual Assistant

Apply your skills and experience to create a lucrative virtual assistant side hustle or full-time business.