Almost Free: Nine Secrets of Bum Marketing for Those Who Have No Money

You can exploit major promotion channels with a small team and without large expenses

A startup faces a difficult problem at its first stage, namely presenting its product to the world, and in case the company opens up a new niche, forming a market into the bargain. Moreover, a startup project has a marketing budget of little more than nothing. However, it is possible to harness the power of major promotion channels with a small team and without large expenses.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels

1. Ask your friends for a share

Limited budget PR campaigns begin with posts in groups that are shared by friends; ask your friends and acquaintances to support you and don’t forget to say thank you: users share their impressions of the products and get a bonus (usually a discount) if someone comes by following their links. At this stage the referral channel may generate as many as 50 percent of customers. In fact, for a cost of attracting one user in social media you attract two or more customers.

2. Enter by the staff entrance

Once you have defined the target audience profile, you can try to reach your customers through their employer. It is not difficult to find on Facebook those who oversee internal communications or manage HR departments of companies you are interested in. Write a short and simple letter describing your project and offering an exclusive discount for employees and a free trial for the manager, and ask for a send-out to the employee database. There is a simpler method: start working with dedicated aggregators of corporate discount programs.

3. Look for a ready customer database

Many companies possess huge customer databases, and banks, insurance companies or payment systems, more often than not, do not mind increasing the commercial payoff of such data. They will be prepared to send out your offer with promo code to their customers. A UTM mark will enable you to determine how many people from that partner have become your customers, and, respectively, the partner’s compensation. The money paid will be used to fund a relevant bonus: for instance, a customer from an insurance company may be offered an insurance for travelers abroad.

4. Try to partner with banks

To be included in third-party loyalty programs, especially those of banks, with a simple integration, is just the thing for a startup. You only pay for a particular person who used the service. Banks, unlike СРА networks (advertising networks working according to the Cost Per Action model, i.e. with payment for a user’s action such as registration on a site, subscription to a mailing list, rather than a view), charge much lower fees for placing an offer, about 1% of compensation compared with 30% charged by СРА networks.

5. Choose targeted rather than contextual advertising

Contextual advertising is worth doing at the start, if there is a developed search request structure and at the same time there are no competitors with large budgets in the market. In all other cases it is an expensive and unsuitable strategy for a startup. Attention rather should be directed to classically measurable sales channels: targeted ads on social media. A myth exists that marketing on social media is not shaped for sales, but this is not so. The advertising toolkits of Facebook make it possible to quickly launch an advertising campaign, scale it and gauge its effectiveness. In the B2C market, they will consistently work for the company’s whole lifecycle and generate a lot of leads. Messenger marketing also produces good results: for example, using Facebook Leads to channel messages into WhatsApp or interacting with a user through ManyChat, a platform facilitating business-customer interaction by uniting all messengers in one interface. Thus, you transfer the customer to a messenger where a trigger strategy is set up; a channel like that generates 7 times more conversions than e-mail.

6. Go viral

The fastest way to make your brand recognizable is to launch viral advertising. We may long talk of damage to the brand’s image, but it is sufficient to analyze financial performance indicators to understand that the hype has converted into profit. Not only big companies but also startups can play this game, on two conditions: the product must be really first-class, and the viral campaign carefully calculated. Launching a virus you should get a vaccine ready, try to foresee the audience’s reaction and your response in each case.

7. Recruit micro-bloggers

Collaboration with opinion leaders before launching a full-scale advertising campaign raises its conversion rate from 5 to 7 times. A startup should be quite content with opinion leaders on Facebook with 3 to 5 thousand active followers. Provide your product to the blogger for testing and ask them to honestly describe their experience. Such interaction with the audience provides an opportunity to receive and analyze the first wave of customer concerns and work them over, so you should always monitor comments.

8. Befriend media

A newborn project should never stop trying to get onto media. After all, it is for them that the Startup rubric is featured by every respectable publication these days. Jolt your managers a bit: there is always something interesting around. Be persistent in promoting them as experts who are prepared to give comments and provide analytics on the market, and not just speak about themselves.

9. Pay for native advertising: it’s worth it

Based on product reviews provided by bloggers or first customers, you can write a native advertising article. Yes, the money paid for its publication in the media will most likely not pay off in terms of leads, but native advertising is a necessary bridge between your customers and your site. You reach your users via an article in an outlet with an existing high reputation. Moreover, such text is well indexed by search engines, which provides a stream of interested users. Also, native advertising should by all means be boosted: re-posted on your public page and targeted at your target audience via your advertising account.

If you manage to tackle all the mentioned channels in an effective manner, the young company will complete its first maturing stage with a solid customer base and a sound conversion rate. At this time, the project cannot do without a PR manager and a partnership program manager, who will expose the brand in the market as much as they can and try to attract new users.

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