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Marketing without a budget for your start up business

When you're starting a business, money is tight. However, you need to market your new business to start building up your customer base. We've put together some top tips for marketing without a budget to help you get started.

You will learn

  • How to use information about your customers to market to them
  • Ways to sell the benefits of your offer
  • How to use social media and face-to-face marketing

Marketing does not necessarily mean big budget; there are many effective marketing activities that do not necessarily cost you money, but will set you off in the right direction to achieve your goals. Here are a few ideas for marketing without a budget:

1. Always put yourself in the customer’s shoes, think - what are they looking for and how do they usually buy it?

2. What is your competitive edge? How are you standing out from the competition, what makes you different? Again, from market research you can identify if there are any gaps in the market that you can fill for example out of hours’ service, flexible hours, mobile service?

3. Write articles and get them published, often local newspapers will publish an article if there is something newsworthy. If you have a "hook" and a good photograph, then send it in. Write letters in response to articles and make sure you include your business name. Offer to be a speaker at an event. This may take you out of your comfort zone, but you will benefit from getting your name out there and making new contacts.

4. Talk about the benefits of using your products and service to solve problems for customers at every opportunity. Remember this can relate back to your competitive edge or talk about time/cost savings to your potential customer.

5. Offer free "taster" sessions, consultations, demonstrations. If people can see/taste/experience what you do, they are more likely to buy. The dance school that puts on demonstrations, the baker who offers free samples, and even the consultant who gives 30 minutes free advice, are all allowing potential customers to buy with added confidence.

6. Do not be shy if someone says something good about you. Ask for testimonials and then publicise them on your website or via social media. Someone else saying you are great at what you do is worth its weight in gold.

7. Be active on social media. Make sure you have a professional profile, and find the platforms that will work best for you, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube can all pay great dividends. Use them wisely and ensure you update them regularly. They are not for spamming about your business, but engaging in conversations so people begin to know, like, and importantly, trust you. Using social media for overt selling is unlikely to work, so look to engage and provide tips & information – it is a discussion medium.

8. Whilst social media is great, nothing beats meeting people face to face: people buy from people they know, like and trust. There are many formal networks that you can join, but equally informal groups meet and share knowledge. Importantly, these people then become your advocates, and once they have built up confidence in you, they will happily refer potential clients to you.

Take a look at our events page to find local meetings you can attend.

9. Make sure you have a good email signature, include contact details and even a link to something you wish to highlight at the end. Auto-signature makes sure you never forget to do this.

10. Make sure you have a decent quality business card, and ensure that the right information is on there. Use both sides of the card: contact information on one side, and what you do on the other side.

Market research will give you more detailed information about your customers’ needs and preferences, however, how do they even know you exist? Marketing is a substantial topic and this information looks at dealing with one aspect of it: how to raise awareness of your products and services.

You should accept the fact that all marketing will cost you money in the end, even if it is just an investment of time (time is money). Every penny in your marketing budget has to work hard. You should not engage in marketing and advertising without careful thought and planning. You also need to measure the results; if it does not work, stop doing it!

So, prepare a simple marketing plan. Learn who your target market is, the sector's, geographical locations, preferred methods of communication and an idea of how your product or service fulfills their needs. Make sure to research the market thoroughly, including identifying who the competition are and where and how they promote themselves. Whatever marketing activity you undertake, the important thing is to test and measure. It can take time for the message to get through, so do not give up too easily.

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Written by:

Mike Everitt

Business coach

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