Small businesses do not have the luxury of massive budgets to market their products or services. Neither can they ride on the coattails of highly successful brands. So what can small and new businesses do to drive sales and make their products visible?

One of the bigger benefits of social media and the Internet is that you can reach out to customers without actually being in physical proximity. Do your research well, get the analytics spot on, narrow down your target demographic and learn where your desired customers hang out online.

All that you need to do is to be present on online platforms where your potential customers get together and join in. Marketing on social media is not advisable if it in no way adds to ongoing social conversation or interactions. Keep in mind that you are having a two-way interaction and that it requires time.

Also Read: Few tips to win the startup marathon

Here are a few ways in which small businesses can build an effective marketing strategy on a shoestring budget:

1. Improve Your Website

Your company website is your public persona with which customers interact and get to know your brand and products or services. It is critical that you design and tailor it in a manner that meets customer needs and expectations.

In-depth knowledge about your target customer segment is essential to market in the right way. If you have a product that people need, then you do not require tons of marketing dollars to garner brand identity or recognition.

So marketing the right product to the people who have a need or use for it is key in getting your marketing game spot on.

Google Analytics will help you get targeted data about visitors to your website or blog. You will get data regarding the number of visitors, duration of average individual visits, an average number of pages visited, actions taken and other important behaviour data. Based on this you will be able to make improvements to your site and get better and more rewarding traction. Remember that more than the number of visitors; it is the number of leads and conversion you garner that is important.

2. Stand Out

As the new kid on the block, if you want to win the attention of potential customers you need to stand out and own a distinct identity.

Also Read: 11 ways to market your business or product when you’re bootstrapping

Do not design website, social media accounts, promotional materials and marketing strategy based on what your competitors are doing. It is necessary for you to create a distinct identity that helps you stand out. Ensure your blogs are entertaining and informative, and your website has a fresh new look to it.

Strive to build a personal rapport with website users and those who sign up for newsletters or free demos. Big companies do not focus on building personal relationships, mostly due to their sheer size. This is an area where you can focus to get better than your successful competitors.

Run contests and conduct online quizzes. Give away freebies and gifts, or coupons or discounts to keep users engaged and interested.

Also, reward website users or customers who like or share your site on social media accounts. You can promote discounts on checkout pages, gently coaxing your customer to share on Facebook or Twitter.

3. Invest in Content

You have started your business because you are very good at it. You have the knowledge and experience to leverage and know just about everything that is there to know about your area of expertise. So why not share this with others?

As an entrepreneur, you are juggling several roles. But try to find time to devote a couple of hours every day to craft high quality and relevant content. It might seem taxing, time-consuming and unrewarding in the beginning, but once you get the hang of things you will find it easier. If you are not great at writing consider hiring a part-time or freelancing content editor who will polish your content and give it the desired look and feel.

4. Focus on Email Marketing Tactics

There is enough and more proof to show that email marketing strategies pack the most power for their punch. This is because if you have a short brief, clever copy, and a catchy headline, then the chances of the recipient opening the mail are quite high.

A study by McKinsey shows that email marketing is about 40 times more effective in acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter. QuickSprout says that email subscribers are three times more likely to share your content via social media than traffic from other sources. Browse through latest email marketing statistics and you will realise that it is something you cannot afford to ignore.

If you go for marketing automation software, running a targeted email marketing campaign will be time and cost-effective. You will be able to segregate recipients on the basis of their position in the marketing lead funnel, demographic and other factors and send targeted emails.

It is estimated that for $1 spent on email campaigns you get an ROI of about US$38. Why would you want to miss out on that?

5. Do Not Set Everything on Auto Mode

When you are nurturing a young business every minute counts. Twenty-four hours are not enough in a day to carry out your marketing activities, and time is money.

There are many marketing activities that can be automated like capturing lead data and email marketing. Once you have built up a lead base that is a few thousand strong, then you can consider automating emails and customer tracking.

Keep in mind that social media engagement cannot be carried out on autopilot especially if you are a small business. You need to build relationships and drive real-time conversations, which may prove to be tough when you rely completely on automating social media activities and postings. You should use social media to communicate and foster communities, rather than as a platform to sell.

6. Consider Going Visual

Video marketing content is garnering massive popularity. You need not stay away from video marketing because you do not have the money to create slick, stylish and professional video content. It is the meaningful, sincere, original and catchy videos that are going viral, not the expensively produced ones.

Syndcast predicts that 74 per cent of all internet traffic in 2017 will be video. Users who watch video ads are 10 times more likely to act on them or engage with them than if the ad contained only text.

Whatever may be the customer funnel you are targeting, videos can help. Video content appeals to the human brain, is easy to understand and process, engaging and often quite entertaining. According to Animoto’s research 96 per cent consumers turn to video content to help in online buying decisions. About 58 per cent also see companies that produce video content as more trustworthy.

You can get your video marketing strategy going by creating short films on issues of concern or importance to your target customer community. Behind-the-scenes glimpses of popular industry events or exhibitions, snippets of how your entrepreneurial journey is unfolding, user-generated content or personal creations of creative employees can all serve as marketing outreach content. Not only are these inexpensive, you also get the opportunity to reach out to a wide base of customers.

After gaining familiarity with the platform, you can explore more options and dish up tutorials and how-to videos as well.

There are many businesses that have grown into multi-million ventures solely relying on YouTube marketing. Reading up on their tactics will give you inspiration and ideas.


Marketing a startup in today’s connected world has its own set of unique marketing challenges and endless opportunities. If you have a well-defined target market and well-planned marketing strategy, it will be possible to get the word out without breaking your marketing budget.

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