4 DIY Marketing Tips for Empty-Wallet Entrepreneurs

You don't need to break the bank to generate leads online, use these cost effective social media tools.

learn more about Maria Dykstra

By Maria Dykstra


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

I love asking emerging entrepreneurs if they have a lead generation strategy. The typical response is: "We are bootstrapping, we can't afford strategy!"

#WhatYouAreReallySaying: "We don't know what to do to build a strategy, and we don't have the money to buy expensive consultants."

The dilemma for the Do-It-Yourself entrepreneur is that you can't afford to waste money on the things that do not work, yet you have to get something up and working for you quickly and with little expense. What to do?

Get social.

The key to quick lead gen? Getting social. Creating your own social lead generation strategy is one of the single most strategic, revenue-boosting, customer-attracting things you can do.

The key is to understand how to be laser-focused on the right metrics.

10,000 likes on your Facebook page will gain you the coveted "social proof," but not necessarily prospects. So…how is it done?

Related: Top 20 Social-Media Tools to Add to Your Arsenal in 2016

The ideal audience game plan.

You start by finding your ideal audience online. The key is not to sell, or simply send content or commentary out into the social world. You make the first move to engage with them.

The way to engage with valuable followers is the same in the social realm as it is in real life. Ask questions of them. Get involved.

If your solution, say, enhances productivity or helps organize, reach out to people on Twitter and ask them what they would do with an extra hour in their day. Or what their most productive time of the day is. See?

Once you engage with them, the opportunity to address their curiosity about YOU will lead naturally to market-driving dialogue.

Where to find them? Look at your existing social community; Twitter suggests similar accounts to follow. There are a number of Twitter directories that help you research and select preferred social community targets. WeFollow and Right Relevance are just a couple of resources. There are plenty more, plus social tools and cloud-based solutions that can speed up this process when you have a few more dollars.

Don't worry about getting it right the first time, either. Test and fine-tune until you feel good about your results.

Once you've practiced, get in the game with these four simple social media advertising tactics you can try for $50 or less.

1. Facebook news feed ads.

Facebook News Feed Ads are perfect if you offer a FREE giveaway or a trial. Do not "boost" or create promoted posts. These are easy to manage but not as effective.

Successful ad campaigns start with a visually stunning image. Create amazing images with free tools like Canva. Integrate a clear Call to Action. Mention your giveaway in the image!

Pay special attention to the landing page. LeadPages team has spent years perfecting their landing page templates.

2. Facebook custom audience targeting.

Rule # 1 of online marketing: Always be collecting email addresses.

As long as you have at least 20 people on your email list, you can start a Facebook Custom Audience campaign. Select "Look Alike" targeting to find more people who are just like your customers. Its Cost Per Click (CPC) option charges only for the clicks you receive. Your $50 will go a long way.

Related: 6 Lead Generation Tactics That Can Give Startups a Big Boost

3. The LinkedIn sponsored update.

Don't ignore LinkedIn's 600 million professional community!

Experiment with LinkedIn Sponsored Updates. They appear in the LinkedIn users' newsfeeds, look like a regular update and are hard to miss. Publish a free article to showcase your industry expertise and deliver value to your audience.

A link to a downloadable white paper is a great way to collect email addresses.

Once your post is written spend the LinkedIn minimum of $10 a day to promote.

Related: 5 Ways to Generate Business Through LinkedIn

4. Twitter web and lead generation cards.

Twitter Lead Generation cards are highly effective. The main advantage of the Twitter Cards is a shorter path to receiving leads. Use Tailored Audience targeting to reach an email list or specific Twitter IDs.


The Do-It-Yourself, empty wallet entrepreneur can get a lot of lead gen strategy accomplished through social media. Trust me, it will be the best $50 you'll ever spend.

Maria Dykstra

Co-founder of Tredigital

Maria Dykstra is an author, speaker, and technology entrepreneur. She is a Microsoft veteran and a co-founder of Tredigital, a fast growing digital agency in Seattle. Dykstra spent more than 18 years working with Fortune 100 and emerging brands. She also serves as an advisor and board member for several startups and women leadership organizations.

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