How to achieve first-rate marketing on a start-up budget

Sammy Blindell discusses the low-cost and no-cost marketing strategies that net the most significant results, in the least amount of time.

You have a limited (or a non-existent) marketing budget. Yet, you need to get the word out about your brand, so you can expand that budget. When your SME is wrapped up in this cycle, it can seem difficult to get ahead. You need money to make money, right?

Not necessarily.

One of the biggest challenges faced by small business owners is the creation and implementation of their marketing strategies. They know they need a marketing plan, but where will they find the resources to create that plan?

There are marketing methods available to you that will cost you little or no capital, and will net some pretty impressive results in less time than you might think.

Marketing: spend less, get more

Effective marketing is all about making the right decisions. You must start in the right place and complete the right steps, in the right order.

Do this correctly, the first time, and you will develop a band of loyal followers who value what you do, are willing to pay you what you’re worth, and who tell others about your brand.

So, with that, let’s get started on what you can do to master this marketing thing…without spending everything you’ve got.

Create a brand strategy

Now is the time, before you put out any marketing messages, to get clear on how you plan to build your personal, professional and financial strategies. It’s true that your brand will be what consumers say it is (not what you say it is), but this is your chance to put forth ideas that will help to shape their perceptions.

Marry your brand strategy to your business plan

What are your goals around financial growth? What life do want to live? How big do you want your business to become? What will you need, financially, to make that happen? Now is the time to tune your branding strategy around those goals, in order to create the income and promote the growth necessary for achieving your financial objectives.

Get everyone on board

Your brand will be propagated by your team and contractors, so share your brand strategy with them. Involve them, engage them…so they’ll want to tell others about your brand…using the words that will build the brand.

Forge as many win-win paths as possible

The key to obtaining the kind of affiliates who will help build your brand is to offer them great value. Who are the people who can put you in contact with your ideal customer? And what do you have to offer them so they’ll feel that they’ve benefited through the deal?

Create an attractive, sticky, memorable message

Your ideal customer has a need, a pain, a problem…and you will only gain their attention if you identify that problem in a direct and ‘Yes, that’s it!’ fashion. Spend time getting to know your target audience members. Learn about their troubles, their peeves, their pleasures, their preferences…and create messages that will make each one feel that you’re speaking directly to them.

Build a content strategy

Branded content includes everything from blog posts to scripts to articles to proposals…and now is the time to start creating these things using what you’ve learnt about your ideal customers.

Create sales materials

There’s a reason you’ve created your message and content first, before sales materials: Because your advertising will be based upon what you learn about your target audience and will both support and rest upon the content you’ve created. Your marketing materials, webpages and landing pages are your promises; your content contains those things you’re promising.

Broadcast your message through social media

Social media has a lot to offer your brand, including the building of awareness, a community and search engine optimisation. Use photos, videos and messages that you know your ideal customers will be attracted to and encourage likes, shares and engagement.

Get busy blogging and vlogging

You should be posting at least three blogs and at least three videos every week – and then sharing and promoting them through your channels. This will not only keep your brand top-of-mind, it will show your followers (and their friends) that you’re committed to fulfilling the promises made by your brand.

Stay in contact with email

At least once per week, send out an email that serves your audience’s needs. You can send a sales email every week, too, but only if you’re outnumbering it with serving emails. Like blogging, this will keep your brand top-of-mind and demonstrate that you deliver on your promises. Regularly scheduled emails that are delivered at the same time every week prove dependability.

Make personal contact with your list

Every business day, choose ten people from your list and make contact with them. Draw from past mutual experiences to craft your messages, and always put them first. Ask what they’re up to. Show an interest in their latest endeavour(s). This is not a sales exercise, but rather a way to show ideal clients that they’re still important to your brand, to keep your brand top-of-mind and to encourage word-of-mouth advertising.

Always look up, in terms of value

No matter the stage (stranger, friend, new client, lifetime loyal client), your goals should always include increasing the value for every customer. Feel their needs. Know their pains. Understand what they want. And then offer something to customers at every stage that makes them say ‘Wow!’

Building your brand comes first. Then branding. Then marketing.

When the marketing comes before the others – when it goes live before the message is just right – businesses fail.

Follow the steps outlined above, in order, and you will notice some things happening for your brand. People will start to recognise it, trust it and recommend it. These are the goals, and this is the way forward.

For more brand, branding and marketing advice and information about all the programmes and support materials we offer, visit the How to Build a Brand website.

Sammy Blindell is founder of How to Build a Brand

Further reading on marketing

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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