7 Marketing Hacks for Start-Ups on a Shoestring Budget

7 Marketing Hacks for Start-Ups on a Shoestring Budget-feature image
May 17, 2023 7 Min read

Marketing is to a brand what oxygen is to the human body.

It takes your brand to the masses in the first place and makes sure they are aware of its USPs. Marketing is a continuous process that keeps a brand going and ensures its healthy survival.

Usually, it comes to many minds that popular brands don’t need to set aside a budget for marketing. Well, those heads need to be scratched harder! Marketing isn’t something that is confined to start-ups in the industry.

So, next time when you come across headlines such as, “Brands So Popular Don’t Need To Advertise” or “Some Brands Thrive Without Advertising”, don’t roll your eyes. Whether you a big fish in a small pond vs. a small fish in a big pond, you need to try new ways to get noticed.

However, there is a twist in it. A start-up might need to be more engaged in marketing activities as compared to an organization that has already established its name in the market. But saying, ‘more marketing demands more money’ won’t be right.

If you don’t believe then let’s go through some promising marketing hacks which will give results despite your start-up running on a shoestring budget:

  • Social Media Is Calling You

When you are cash-strapped, social media is your go-to-go friend. If you do not participate in advertising opportunities, you can market your product at zero cost as well. All you have to do is prepare the post and publish it. The leads you will generate without boosting your post will be organic. And there are more chances of conversion of such lead as the customer came on his/her own. Your post can vary in terms of only image, content, image + content, video, etc.

There are plenty of social media platforms to showcase your product/service. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, YouTube are few of the famous ones. Since these platforms demand minimal investment for advertising that doesn’t mean you start promoting your brand on all of them. They might not cost you money, but they demand your time. Therefore, you have to find out which all are the right medium for you to reach the target audience.

Marketing Hacks Social Media

If your product is a millennial digger, Snapchat should be your call as it is dominated by the under-25. Similarly, if you want to cater to an age group of 25-60, Facebook is your goldmine.

  • Rewarding Referral Programme

Referral marketing is an economical marketing hack for lead conversion. Also known as word-of-mouth marketing, new customers under the referral programme come by relying on the opinion of their acquaintances. The driving idea behind this marketing hack is that you reward your current customers when they bring new ones to you. Your own customers become your marketing personnel and brand ambassadors.

Top brands that have graduated from the Institute of referral marketing with distinction are Uber, Dropbox, AirBnb, Booking.com, Paypal. Uber’s ‘Free trips’ section provides its users with invitation code. You share the code with your friends and if they sign up using the code, they get the first ride as free ride. Also, you are rewarded for your loyalty in the form of free ride or discount!

  • The Game of Word-of-Mouth

Unlike above point, here we are going to talk about the scenario where happy customers just can’t hold the urge to spread positive words about your products or services. All you have to do is render impeccable service to customers. Once your customers are happy with your service, they become one of the best medium of marketing. Then, it’s just impossible for a brand to not succeed.

House parties and get-togethers are perfect example to describe it. In such parties, people meet family, friends and try to find solution for each other’s problems. Imagine one of the problems is, a friend has got skin allergy due to one of the chemical-based beauty products.

And your customer know about your start-up, which is engaged into selling organic beauty products. Moreover, he or she has been using your products from the past few months and is happy with it. Of course, your brand will be recommended. And you never know, you will have one more customer in your kitty soon.

This is the game (power) of word-of-mouth.

Marketing Hacks: The Game of Word-of-Mouth

Did you realize, it is a no cost marketing strategy? The sole thing that it demands outstanding customer service like no one in the industry. You must provide unprecedented and unsurpassed service; your customer will care for the rest.

Suggested Read: Marketing Vs Advertising: Which Will Work for Your SaaS Product

  • The Power of Collaboration

The point reminds me of my company’s recent annual kick-off. It was fun consisting of the sales session, OEM session, Bollywood night, the gala event and most importantly, team building activities. In one of its activities, called human ladder, we learned about the importance of collaboration. The area where the activity occurred was not sufficient for all the teams to operate together but still, we finished the game somehow.

And after the game was over, the host asked us if we collaborated with other teams (by giving each other space or helping in any manner) instead of creating hush-hush? Well, none of the team did it, obviously! Everyone was in a hurry to win. Had we done it, there would have been more than one winner.

What I learned was, observe the situation, if competition can’t bring you victory, the collaboration will.

The concept known as Collaborative Marketing is a marketing hack in which you align with like-minded (or different) companies.

It isn’t necessary that it has to be at par with you, you can close the deal with industry giants. In fact, the latter will get you more benefits as you will learn more.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines collaborating with AirBnb is one of the famous examples. The airline customized its private plane to give customers flight and accommodation experience at one place.

  • The Giveaway Gimmick

Running contests is another low-cost marketing hack. Just like deals, promotions and referral programmes, giveaways/contests can take your brand a long way.

Marketing Hacks: The Giveaway Gimmick

For example, AppSumo (the website that facilitates discounts for B2B software) chose to run a giveaway where they gave 10 new entrants a 50GB Dropbox Pro subscription.

They didn’t expect much initially, but received 200,000 new email signups in the first week itself. Before the giveaway, cost per subscription was $5 but after it, the cost dropped down to $0.30 per subscriber. Although, giveaways costed company $60,000 but every contest doesn’t need this much huge amount. You can even win people’s heart and trust with smaller but useful giveaways.

  • Free Market Survey Tools

Start-ups build around an idea, and if you can verify that a potential market exists, you win half of the battle. And if a similar product is already available in the market, collect the data w.r.t opportunities, challenges, customer for the products, etc. Free market survey software such as SurveySparrow helps you in gaining valuable insights and therefore, makes for one of the great marketing hacks.

Marketing is associated with what occurs after and before the product launch. And a survey tool can be useful at this stage. In fact, you should conduct a market survey first, analyse the pain-points of your targeted customers, and then come up with the product idea. If your product solves some problems of customers, it is likely to be in demand.

  • Look for Unrepresented Yet Quality Marketing Tools

As a smart marketer, you need to invest in the right tools of the trade, i.e, CRM software and sales force automation software. These tools can help remove obstacles in the way of achieving the desired goals by bringing efficiency at every stage of lead generation, nurturing and conversion. However, premium software vendors demand huge initial investment. Fortunately, there are many niche software vendors in the market who can serve your automation needs within your budget. Also, they provide free trials and detailed products demos to help you make informed selection.

Newbies, with above marketing hacks, now you can also market your product too without going heavy on your pocket.

Written by Aditi Lohia

Aditi is a graduate from the University of Delhi with a degree in Bachelor of commerce. While studying CA she found respite in writing poems and her once hobby has turned into a full time profession. Her ‘Introduction to creative writing’ course at British Council of India has... Read more

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