20 Ways to Market Your Start Up with Little or No Money

I was a serial entrepreneur before serial entrepreneurs were cool.  

I’ve been there. I am a serial entrepreneur from way back. My efforts in business failed more times than succeeded. Urban E Recycling is the most successful company I have co-founded in my lifetime. I have always handled the marketing and I learned from failure and successes. The remaining of this article is the marketing lessons I’ve learned and practice now.

Profile your customer. Sit down and write out who your customer is. What is the age range? What is the education level? What is the gender? What is the geographical area? What do they care about? Keep questioning how your customers think? This will help you out in so many ways. It will save you time and money.

You’ve got to understand your customer.

You’ve got to understand your customer. You need to see who you want for your customer first. ‘If you market to everyone, you market to no one.’ That is a hard lesson to learn. You might make a product or service that you feel everyone wants and needs. The truth is, there is no company or product that can be marketed to everyone and stay in business. Even Walmart and Campbell soup have their target market.

Don’t spend a lot of time and money on marketing your business at first. The best thing you can do from day one is network. Get out there and tell your story. More important, listen. Listen to what people ask and say about your idea. See how they react. Let them tell you what they think. Don’t argue with them. Just listen. You will soon learn what is good advice and not so good advice. Tweak your story to make it more interesting to your audience by listening to how people react. You will soon learn what turns peoples heads and what they want to hear.

Pick your logo carefully. If you have a good idea of what you want, sketch it out and hire an artist. Try fiverr.com or Upwork.com. There are others but those are the ones I have found very dependable.

Think about your end goal when you are deciding on a name and a logo. Do you want to go national or international? Do you want to sell the business eventually? If you do, your last name would probably not be the best choice unless your name describes the business you want to start.

Rebranding is something you do not want to do after you get started. Consistency is everything when it comes to marketing.

Rebranding is something you do not want to do after you get started. Consistency is everything when it comes to marketing. Picks you colors, two to three main is good. Record the hex codes so they are handy. You will need them for printing and other digital visual marketing.

Start your website. You must have a website these days. People look for stability and part of that is having a professional looking website. There are plenty of free website builders out there. Investigate. You want to research different free website builders because eventually, you want to pay for your site for more features. See what they charge for what you eventually will need.

A basic website will have a homepage, about Us, F&Q, News, Contact Us pages. Of course, other tabs if you need them for your business. Urban E Recycling has an ‘Items We Recycle’ tab and a ‘Schedule a Pickup’ tab and a ‘Locations’ tab. The extra tabs are necessary for our business.

Open up a business Facebook page. it’s important to have a business Facebook page because people will look for you on Facebook. There you can communicate with your customers, post pictures, and gather reviews. Don’t worry about boosting or advertising with Facebook yet. Just plaster posts and see what your audience respond to. That will help you see how to market in the future. Keep an eye on this always. Things change.

If you discover your target audience is on another social media platform, go for it. A lot of your time will be learning how to market to your customers. There is no short cut. You will learn to love marketing or find a partner who does. I call it a science because it’s all experimental. Find out what works, do it for as long as it works then change to find out other things that work. It’s trial and error — or victory!

I will recommend Appsumo.com. Get on their email list. It’s a company that sends you awesome deals where you can sign up, usually for a lifetime, to apps that help you market or save you time. I have purchased many apps for $49 that are normally price over $1000. Don’t purchase everything they send you. Read carefully what they are offering. Read reviews and look at their youtube presence. I like it when the app has many tutorials and reviews. Make sure you can use the app before purchasing. No matter how much money you start out with, money can go very fast.

Stay out of debt. Get scrappy. Use your time and money wisely. A debt will bring a company down faster than anything. Even when things are going well, a slow period and debt will destroy a start-up.

On your website and social media, find a way to capture emails. Offer something for free. A checklist, an ebook, a free consultation are all good to give away. It won’t cost you anything to send out a checklist or ebook. A consultation will cost you time, but it will get your word out and possibly a sale. Soon you will have enough to do some email marketing.

Make a landing page. A landing page is a separate, stand-alone page with three main purposes. They should be designed for a single call to action (CTA). Either to capture information like emails and names, or get your visitor excited enough to purchase, or ask a question. In other words, data collecting or sale.

A landing page should be simple and to the point.

You want to register with Google, Google My Business. It’s free. It takes a few days, but it’s worth it. After you set up all your information with Google My Business, Google will send you a postcard with a pin number. You have to put the number in. I think they call you after that, but not sure. It’s been a while since I’ve done it. Just follow the directions and you will be all set. This will put you on the map and allow people to give your business reviews.

If you have a business that you are running out of your home, just use your home address and after you are set up with Google, erase your home address if you want to stay private.

Next, you want some links to your website. You might think this is difficult but it isn’t. All your social media platforms should link back to your webpage.

Go to YEXT.com, go to the bottom of the page and click ‘listings’. This will bring up many directory icons and places you want to be. Don’t try to get on every platform there. The first couple of rows are probably the most important. You can pay YEXT.com to do this for you, but you can do it yourself. Go to these platforms and sign up. The most important thing for these listing is to make them consistent. I would type your information out and copy and paste just to b sure. Inconsistent addresses, phone numbers etc. will hurt you.

Later you might find similar sites or partner sites that you can get links from but this is much harder and takes time. There will always be another way to market more. And there is a lot of ways to spend money on ads, visuals, and boosting post and so on.

Content is still king.

Write about your product or service. You don’t have to be a writer. Use apps to correct your grammar and spelling (Grammarly.com). Just write how you talk and you will become proficient. Writing often forces you to research material and then you become an expert. The traditional rule of at least 400 to 600 words and 1000 words or more or a seven-minute read. Google has their algorithm for keywords and amount of words, but more than anything you should write to tell your story or inform. Write something that would be valuable to your customers or prospective customers. in other words, write for humans, not robots.

Spy on your competition. Go to their website. Find out what they are doing. Find out how they are marketing. Visit their webpage. check on other major search engines. Read their blogs. Read their reviews. Call them up from a phone that isn’t yours. Ask prices and how they work. You have got to know about your competition. Not only the direct competition but the indirect.

Direct competition versus Indirect competition

Direct competition is the competitor that sells the same product or services. Indirect competition is the companies that fill the same need yet does not sell the same product or service. For example, a grocery store like Publix has direct competition with Winn Dixie. They both sell groceries. They both have a pharmacy, they both have deli departments, meat departments, produce, etc.

Indirect competition

Indirect competition, for example, might be McDonald’s or other restaurants because you can get hamburger and fries instead of going grocery shopping. It fills the same need. They both can feed a person. Another indirect competitor might be a company like Blue Apron. That is also a company that feeds you. Direct competition is easier to combat because you can differentiate yourself/company by seeing what ‘story they are telling’. Note here; you could do exactly the same thing but if you advertise something different and attractive, there’s your hook.

Let me explain it this way. If you are a grocery store and you are competing against a large grocery store, you might advertise free delivery. The larger grocery store might also have free delivery, but they do not advertise it. You can advertise free delivery and appear different and a better choice for people who want to stay home and not fight traffic, parking, and shopping.

You need to be better, cheaper or faster; or appear to be one of the three. Two out of three is better. Don’t try to be all three.

Here is the 20 Marketing Recommendation in no particular order.

1. Profile your customer.

2. ‘If you market to everyone, you market to no one.’

3. The best thing you can do from day one is network.

4. Pick your logo carefully.

5. Create a professional looking website.

6. Open up a business Facebook page.

7. Think about your end goal.

8. See what social platform your customers are on.

9. I recommend Appsumo.com

10. Stay out of debt.

11. Capture Emails

12. Register at ‘Google My Business’.

13. Register on major directories.

14. Find partners.

15. Blog.

16. Spy on your competition.

17. Don’t forget about indirect competition.

18. Be better, cheaper or faster.

19. Listen to what people are telling you.

20. Change your story to emphasize what people are telling you what’s important.