How to: Marketing on a budget

marketing at newcastle startup week

Marketing is one of the key skills needed to get your startup off the ground. Whether you’re launching a tech business, a beauty company, or a crafts organisation, you need to make sure potential clients are aware of what you do.

Yet, many founders have limited financial reserves and are unsure how to invest in their marketing. We have regularly been told by founders that they “need money to get the word out”. Although money can certainly help, there are budget-friendly tricks you can adopt to gain traction and market your business. We’ve outlined 8 tips for you here.

#1 Quick-win SEO: Get yourself on Google

Registering your business with free to use ‘Google My Business‘ helps improve your SEO rankings almost instantly. Clients will be able to find you on local searches (such as hairdresser, Sunderland) and you’ll be listed on Google Maps. Make sure your listing is relevant to what you do and targeted at the right search terms. Ideally, the search terms will align with the content on your website (providing you have a website).

This SEO quick win was shared with us by Alisa Bates, Head of Awareness at FreeAgent, during our Founders’ Friday event in August.

#2 Go beyond just sales messages

Just talking about your product or service will limit your potential to reach new audiences. Develop relevant content that provides value to potential customers. Content should be targeted at key customer pains and interests. What problem is it that your business is addressing? How can you develop content that helps those customers alleviate some of their pains?

This type of content can also help you improve your SEO. Develop content targeted at what you know potential customers are searching for. What are the questions they type into Google? How can you help provide the answers?

Don’t forget to share your content! Social media is a great and free way to reach new audiences. Use relevant hashtags (tool: Hashtagify) and engage with other organisations to increase reach. If possible, link relevant organisations or resources within the articles and tag these organisations on social. This will help you increase reach and benefit from their followers.

#3 DIY your design with Canva

Canva is a free online tool which enables you to design your own marketing materials. The platform provides a variety of templates that make the design process easier. Whether it’s a flyer, banner, logo or business card; Canva has editable formats for any. Most templates are free but some advanced stock images may cost $1USD to unlock. Although the platform is very user-friendly, there are various tutorials available on the Canva website. Check out a social media image we made to promote our Newcastle Startup Week 2020!

#4 Help other organisations with their content

Organisations with marketing teams are always on the lookout for content that provides value to their customers. You might be able to help! Keep an eye on newsletters, social media, blogs, and other content channels from relevant organisations and assess whether they may be interested in sharing your work. Some organisations may even benefit from referring your organisation to existing customers, helping them improve their brand reputation. For example, some business support organisations have referred their clients to our events as a networking opportunity.

When approaching organisations, ensure your content is tailored to their audiences, goals and tone of voice. Do your research and read some content they’ve produced in the past to assess relevancy.

#5 Get to know the press

The press are not just a post box destination for your press releases. Like any communication channel, good PR starts with positive press relations. This includes a mutual understanding of what the press are looking for and how your content suits their agendas. Don’t be afraid to contact the press to learn more about planned themes for upcoming magazines, which might give you ideas for content. Another tip is to let the press know you’re available for comment. Journalists occasionally seek opinions from business owners on trending news topics. However, if you are approached for comment be critical in assessing suitability. For example, political comments may put you at risk of alienating your customers while industry-specific comments may help you build credibility. Don’t be afraid to say no if it’s not right.

#6 Adopt an interesting persona on social

Managing a social media profile is just like managing a persona; whether you like it or not, you have a personality. To secure appropriate followers and build engagement, make sure that persona resonates with your desired ‘target audience’ (i.e. user persona). Most audiences don’t like it if all you do is talk about yourself. Engage with other brands and organisations to spark conversations and benefit from their followers. Add comment and thought where relevant. Nobody likes a copycat and you’ll need some original content to build a following.

To understand what type of content to create on social media, sketch out your ‘user persona’ based on your potential customer wants and needs – and decide on how that can be reflected onto your social media.

#7 Leverage the power of existing customers

It can be tempting to focus on new customer acquisition but don’t forget the loyal customers who are already supporting you. Focusing on existing customers can be a very cost-effective opportunity to boost your credibility and reach more audiences. After all, what is the likelihood of you buying a product that has five star reviews compared to one that only has one? The habit of following other people’s recommendations is still one of the most powerful approaches in communication.

What are you doing to help maintain those customers who have already bought from you? How can you help them share their satisfaction? Common tricks include encouraging customers to share product use onto their social media.

#8 Don’t forget offline

The internet has provided a powerful platform to reach new audiences. However, don’t neglect offline. Face to face conversations can provide unique opportunities to solicit feedback and learn about potential customer pains and needs. It can help you better understand why some people may or may not be interested in your product, and helps you discover which pitches stick most with people. Just make sure to listen to feedback, and be aware that not everyone will fit your target audience.

Furthermore, networking can help you develop 1-2-1 relations, making it easier to follow-up with those potential clients. Have resources at hand to facilitate follow-on contact, such as an active Linkedin account or a business email.

Please note that events can be very time-intense and might not always be the best approach to your marketing. We don’t recommend spending all your working hours networking with others, but find an event that seems relevant and give it a go! We host our own Founders’ Friday events every last Friday of the month which provide plenty of networking opportunity.

These were our top tips for marketing on a budget. Do you have any ideas of your own? Let us know in a comment below or share them with us on social media! We’re on Facebook, & Twitter and Instagram.

For more tips on starting your business, check out our next edition of Newcastle Startup Week which will feature expert marketing advice, funding insights, and more! Get your ticket here.

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