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5 Crucial Tactics for Marketing a Start-up with Minimal Budget

The majority of new businesses fail within the first two years – fact.

There are a variety of reasons why this happens, but one of the biggest is the constant tug-o-war between cash flow and marketing.  Marketing is notoriously expensive and when your business is a start-up, you might not have the funds to drive your marketing effort forward.

Fortunately, there are marketing tactics that won’t get you into financial trouble. Here are some marketing efforts that wont break the bank.

Guest blogging

Writing for other similar blogs, and having outsiders contribute to your blog, is a great way to garner attention online. Guest blogging is arduous, but this is a must for businesses that are heavily invested in producing great content on their website and blog.

Don’t do this for traffic, or even for links, but for visibility and to gain a position as an authority within your industry. Becoming an authority within your sector opens you up to some fantastic opportunities such as a better rank in search engine results.

Remember that this takes time and lots of effort. But guest blogging is a tactic that some people have made a living from. Many of these bloggers have also positioned themselves as an authority within their niche this way.

If you are interested in guest blogging, I suggest you read Pratik Dholakiya’s guideover on Moz.com as a starting point. Head over to Pratik Dholakiya’s website for more marketing tips and advice.

Repurposing content

The cost of getting decent web content made is significant, and getting great content made can be very expensive. This is why most start-ups either avoid it altogether or try to produce it in-house.

However, such content that is created within the business is often for operational purposes or for training. This same content, with a little judicious editing and reimagining, can easily be repurposed for public consumption, placed onto your website, and promoted.

Altering your existing content also gives you the opportunity to present it in different formats. Take an internal PowerPoint guide and convert it into a Slideshare presentation, for example.

For more detailed pieces, you may want gate your content behind a simple form and offer your audiences the ability to download the product. By doing this, you can incentivise mailing list sign-ups, which is a great way of getting more leads.

This also helps to control costs, which is important in any start-up and could mean the difference between closing your doors and getting to a period of significant growth.

A good deal goes far

Everyone loves a good deal, which is why deal sites like Mighty Deals and Groupon have become so popular.

These sites have huge mailing lists full of people that are looking for a bargain. Offering these deals will reduce your margins and opens the door to some great results. Deals will also garner a lot more eyeballs to your product. More attention is what you need, no matter what stage your start-up is at – it’s all about awareness and mindshare.

If you run a ‘Software as a Service’ (SAAS) business, or you sell digital products, it’s well worth trying these deal sites as all you will need to cover is your server costs. Ultimately, growing your user base is what this should be about.

External contests

When you’re marketing a start-up, you will start with a very small audience, so running any type of contest within your own network isn’t going to yield much in terms of growth.

What if, instead of holding a giveaway contest on your own site, you found a non-competing site – like a blog that shares your exact target audience. Team up with them and provide a prize in exchange for the site owner hosting a giveaway for you.

Davpack (the company I work for) recently teamed up with another website to offer some great prizes using a Rafflecopter widget.

Rafflecopter allowed us to use contest entry methods such as Tweeting the giveaway post, liking us on Facebook, and following us on Twitter.

At the time of writing this, the giveaway has increased our Twitter followers by over 200% and Facebook likes by over 400%.

Most importantly, all of these new followers and fans are people that are interested in the products we sell. They are 100% in-line with our target audience – it doesn’t get much better than that!

Affiliate marketing

There are bloggers and website owners all over the world with a target audience you can tap into, and one of the most effective ways to start generating some positive referral traffic is by setting up an affiliate programme. Affiliate marketing is a great way to have these outlets promote your product. This is popular in a large number of niches and market verticals, from digital marketing to clothing.

There are a number of systems that can help you, but it all boils down to the type of product you are selling. A few affiliate marketing sites include Shareasale.com, CJ.com, Clickbank.com or E-Junkie.com.

I recommend these sites because they all have an easy set-up process and take care of most of the hard work for you.

Summary

Marketing a start-up is exciting, but can often be a battle against cash flow. It becomes a constant battle involving juggling relationships, resources, and your time to get things done.

While this isn’t an exhaustive list of marketing tactics that you can utilise, these will get you started and help you gain results without breaking the bank.

Above all else, it’s important to monitor the marketing activity that you have and keep an eye on what is giving you the best return on investment. Event tracking in systems like Google Analytics can help you there.

On a side note: there are a number of other ways that you can cut business costs that I have listed here, all worth taking into consideration, because every penny counts.

Which tactics would you add to the list? And which tactics are getting you the biggest return?

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