Getting any new start-up business off the ground is an expensive proposition. With the high costs associated with just getting a website launched and the doors open, having enough budget to initiate a campaign designed to ring up sales can be a bit daunting. But whether a new business is a traditional brick-and-mortar storefront or part of the online marketplace, often a depleting budget demands that some low or no-cost marketing techniques be included in the strategic advertising/marketing effort.
Studies suggest that an emerging business should expect to lay out up to 10 percent of annual sales on advertising and marketing efforts. While digital marketing can offer more opportunities to make consumer connections for less money, there are a few non-traditional strategies that can be produced at little or no cost. These tactics are usually performed in-house and some can be considered unconventional and innovative.
Guerrilla marketing tactics refer to ways a brand can make a favorable impression by performing unique and unusual campaigns that capture the attention of a prospective market niche and increase brand awareness. Encouraging brand advocates to participate in the effort will personalize the campaign and jump start the word-of-mouth phenomenon amongst a targeted audience. Creating catchy Hashtag campaigns that leverage a brand’s social media presence and grab attention will increase online conversations.
Branded apparel and promotional items like pens, hats, shirts, bags, and sports cups are very popular and can spread the brand’s message at a reasonable cost, but the best efforts are those that are creative and/or comedic. Printing sassy sayings across packaging materials can capture the interest of a customer and spark new conversations with friends and family. Avoid messages that can easily generate controversy and focus on subjects like popular trivia or informative and savvy messages that are related to a brand’s offerings.
Listing the company in online directories is a good and economical way to get noticed by new prospective customers. Like the Yellow Page Directories before the internet revolution, listing the brand and the services and products offered can dramatically escalate first-time consumer contacts. Tie the listing to the brand’s website and social media platforms to draw in new customers looking for specific solutions.
Join popular online question and answer platforms where the brand’s experience and expertise can be promoted. Show the audience that the company is well-versed and experts in the field. Write informative blogs and articles sharing knowledgeable information about the solutions customers are seeking. Reach out to local schools, service clubs, and community associations to speak. Public speaking is an impactful opportunity to share personal insights and grow a personal brand within a community.
Build a formidable army of brand advocates, those customers who are excited about the brand’s products and services and are willing to share the experience voluntarily with others. Publish consumer-generated testimonials and comments from advocates in order to initiate new online conversations about the brand.
For an emerging business, sometimes the best marketing ideas and campaigns are free or come at little cost. Thinking out of the box and coloring outside of the lines can produce surprising and beneficial results.