Many think that branding and marketing are not important early on, but that is most definitely not the case. Starting to create a unique brand early in the life of a startup can give your company a huge upper hand in the marketplace. It is extremely important for an entrepreneur not to overlook the impact that marketing his/her brand can have on their company.
It is also a common belief that marketing costs tons of money, and some startups will do nothing because they think that there will be some sort of massive cost involved. This is true for certain types of marketing, but there are many ways to spread the word about your venture for no cost at all. I've compiled a few beneficial ways to begin one's marketing campaigns for little to no cost listed below:
1. Utilize Social media
So many overlook this easy way to reach your target audience. Yes, it may be hard to get started, but it will definitely pay off to be active on certain apps where you can interact with your customers. Many startups do not even have dedicated social media accounts, or they have them, but they are inactive. You want your company to seem reachable to your customers, and the best way to do that is to interact with them.
This is by far the best free way to begin marketing your company. At the most minor impact, Social Media will at least raise some awareness of what you are doing. The best way to get started is by asking friends and family to follow and promote your account to their networks. If you are having trouble coming up with content, just think of your account as a blog of your company's progress and take pictures of your day-to-day progress and workflow. I see Social Media as a MUST in this day in age... anyone not taking advantage of this new technology is inevitably going to fall behind their competition.
2. Find/Attend Local Events Relating To Your Market
I can not speak about other locations, but Philadelphia is an extremely resourceful place to start a company. There are constantly events to attend for like minded entrepreneurs here, but do not limit yourself to entrepreneurial events because surely your customers are not all entrepreneurs. For example, if you are creating a portable water pack for festivals, then go to local festivals and notify your future customers about how your backpack is better than others. Many events are free, but if they are not affordable for you at the time, be sure to ask how the event producers could potentially accomodate you. Leading up to an event's date, the producers will many times do anything to fill the space, and you can get a solid discount many times; all you have to do is ask.
My team at VyB and I go to tons of local events, and at them we get amazing feedback, we get our name out there, and we make connections with people from all walks of life that could potentially help us move the company along. You will definitely be reaching a smaller audience than with social media this way, but face-to-face conversation with someone about your company gives you the ability to explain the idea fully which is better for the customer's understanding. The VyB team and I highly recommend this method based on all of the benefits we have had related to attending local events and presenting at them.
3. Create Merch and Small Chachkas To Give Away
Custom stickers, wristbands, pens, hats, flyers etc. are all great ways to get your name out there. At VyB we printed tons of stickers and wristbands early on for a very small cost, and now tons of people wear our wristbands, and have our stickers on their water bottle or computer. This is free advertising to everyone that sees them sporting one of our stickers or wristbands, and we have gained lots of website traffic and Instagram followers from this.
This method might seem expensive early on, but you do not have to print thousands of items to give away for it to be affective. If you have the right information on these items, and they are designed well, then you will definitely benefit from any amount you give away. Just make sure to give them to people that you believe interact daily with your target audience.
These are just a few of the ways you can get the ball rolling regarding marketing on a budget. Hopefully you can take advantage of these suggestions and benefit from them as much as VyB has!
Nico Cohen - Co-Founder & Chief Marketing Officer at VyB