In business, you have to spend money to make money. This is particularly true when it comes to marketing efforts. After all, if no one has heard about your startup, how will you get customers to keep it operational?
While marketing expenses can be costly, there are things you can do to start that will keep your costs low. By taking a frugal approach to your startup marketing efforts, you can start to generate income and scale as needed. Here are five tips for keeping startup marketing costs low.
There’s a reason that people peruse through sales flyers and clip coupons: it saves a lot of money over time. Carry the frugal mindset over into your startup, especially at the beginning when it can be tempting to spend. Take time to when creating business cards and promotional materials. Buy only what you need rather than what you want.
Don’t make the mistake of seeing deal shopping as cheapness or a low-quality business strategy. The business greats all knew when to spend, when to save, and that cutting costs on marketing materials has great results. No one needs an expensive business card, especially in the modern age.
It’s important to have a marketing strategy for your overall business. This document will outline who your customers are, the design and branding details of your business, and how you’ll make yourself known. You can enhance and evolve this document by creating campaign-specific plans and a marketing growth strategy.
Take some time to plan for the year ahead, whether you’re starting in January or July. Set target numbers, determine how you’ll reach them, and identify what promotional materials you will require. This will give you a better overall sense for budgeting (another important aspect of keeping costs low) and identify what materials you need so you don’t buy too much or too little.
Just ten years ago, opening a business meant investing in expensive software to keep things running at a basic level. From word processing to project management to graphic design, everything had a hefty price tag and most businesses couldn’t function without those tools. Now, there are a lot of high-quality free tools that you can use to create powerful promotions and track your efforts.
Use a free version of Hootsuite or Buffer to schedule your social media posts. Trello is a free project management tool that will let you track your campaign strategy progress and plan your product launches. Canva is a free graphic design tool that allows you to make professional looking social media posts, flyers, and documents at no cost.
Spend a lot of time looking at your analytics and understanding your demographic. It’s not enough to know who they are; you also have to know where they are and how you can reach them. For example, if you’re launching an online product, it doesn’t make any sense to invest in print publication advertising or printing physical materials. Alternatively, if you operate a local business that relies on people in the area, it makes sense to balance your efforts between targeted online marketing and local, physical advertisements.
Yes, you need to spend money to save money sometimes. If web design isn’t something you have time for or it isn’t one of your skill sets, you should outsource to someone who specializes in that area. If you don’t, you may end up with a subpar site that you’ve spent too much time on and have to outsource anyway.
To run a successful startup, you need to know when to invest and when to save. Remember the value of your own time, and of doing things yourself. With a strong marketing plan in place and an eye for deals, you’ll be able to keep your marketing costs low relative to your business.