Eight Marketing Strategies Every Startup Or Small Business Can Afford
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Roshni is the CMO of Foxquilt Insurance and Founder of Prosh Marketing, specializing in Go-To-Market strategies for technology startups.
As the founder of a marketing company that helps startups and small businesses, people often ask me, “How can we effectively market and scale with a tight budget?” It can be challenging to decide where to invest your time and limited resources in marketing. Should you invest in the top of the funnel or the bottom?
In my experience, a full-funnel approach is usually the most sustainable over time. That said, certain strategies are just out of reach and do not make sense for smaller companies — like, for example, TV advertising. Here are eight tried-and-tested marketing strategies I recommend every startup or small business consider:
- Earned Media/PR
The value of a credible third party touting your praises cannot be underestimated. Not only do press articles and earned media gain you trust, but you can also benefit from a wider distribution by leveraging their existing audiences. Influencers and bloggers can fall into this category and can share your company with their followers, which gains you an endorsement with potentially exponential reach. Stunts can also be a creative (and low-cost, if done right) way to garner media attention or that of your target market.
- Content Marketing
Creating content that’s relevant and interesting to your target audience can help you generate new leads by capturing their interest and building trust. It can also help increase your close ratio by building your brand, answering customer questions and providing reasons why prospects should choose you. From articles to infographics to eBooks and even videos, you should showcase your expertise, differentiation and brand values to attract potential customers and help those who are already considering you to make that purchase decision. Great content also often gets featured and backlinked, so you can increase your domain authority by placing it on your website.
- Partner Marketing
Partnering with another company or organization that has a similar target customer can help you both increase your reach and marketing abilities if you pool your resources together to build your brands. Complimentary products and services can be a great place to start. By sharing email lists, exchanging blogs, bundling offerings or even co-branding programs, ads or sponsorships, you can create win-win situations for both partners.
- Social Media
Having your own social channels not only allows you to control your message and share updates freely, but also allows you to build a community around your brand, company and product. As a free channel to activate, social media can be a great place to build user-generated content, get feedback or even address customer service concerns. Many customers also look to social channels to see if they can trust the brand or company or to check out their reviews, so maintaining a presence can actually help conversion rates.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Most people search for information online, and organic search can account for the majority of a website’s traffic. This makes optimizing your website for SEO extremely important. Through strategic SEO, you can introduce yourself to leads with a high need state or purchase intent, which can make this kind of business easier to close. Furthermore, if a customer searches for help with a problem and your website comes up, this helps position you as a credible, trustworthy source to help them.
- Email Marketing
If you’ve built your email list right, you’ve gathered a group of people who have expressed some interest in your company or product. By segmenting this group based on different characteristics and then emailing them with the right content and offers at the right time in their customer journey, you can influence a purchase decision successfully with no added impact to your marketing budget.
- Affiliate Programs
Affiliates are a cost-effective way to build sales without adding large fixed marketing costs like advertising. Because they have skin in the game, affiliates are properly incentivized to promote your products or services and are only rewarded if they are successful. These affiliates can take the form of influencers, content publishers and review or coupon sites, and you can structure the partnerships to pay out based on clicks, leads or sales.
- Referral Marketing
Tapping into the goodwill of happy, existing customers is one of the fastest, easiest and most cost-effective ways to grow. Mobilize your customers to spread the word about your products or services by reminding them to share their experiences and incentivizing them to bring new business to you. You’ll likely get highly qualified leads at a lower overall cost of acquisition than if you had to find them on your own.
Even with a modest budget, there are many options available to you to create a solid marketing plan as a startup or small business. By employing a number of different affordable strategies that address the entire marketing funnel, from awareness through conversion and advocacy, you can strategically, creatively and tactfully garner customers and build revenues to eventually reinvest in your marketing efforts and speed up your growth.
Wijayasinha, Roshni and Forbes Communication Council. “Eight Marketing Strategies Every Startup Or Small Business Can Afford,” Leadership, 30 Mar. 2021, Forbes,