How to carry out a successful marketing campaign on a startup budget

By Emma Sturgis

To get sales in any business, marketing is the linchpin for success. Unfortunately, traditional paid media advertising is hard to afford if you run a startup business with a low budget. Also, an expensive ad campaign runs the risk of having no return on investment. The good news is that you don’t have to spend a fortune to bring traffic to your new business. You can use the following strategies to get some initial sales without spending a lot on marketing.

Customer referrals

One way to increase your initial business is to incentivize customers to refer their friends, family and acquaintances to try out your service or product. Large companies have flourished mainly due to their referral programs. Some examples are Uber and Airbnb. A nice discount or cash bonus is usually all it takes to get customers to promote your business to their immediate social circle. You don’t have to sacrifice too much money to offer these incentives. Even a simple $10 off code can motivate your customers to get the word out about your company.

Social media

This one should be a given. If you don’t already have a following on various social media platforms, now is the time to build it up. When you have an audience that regularly tunes into your social media hub for information, it provides a free way to reach thousands of people without paying for any ads.

Some ideas you could consider are the free methods that Twitter and Facebook have to get the word out about your brand. You could also host a Reddit event where people can ask you, the expert, anything about a particular topic on which you can offer valuable information. Many marketing strategy experts have hosted such events with great results.

One of the best growing social media channels these days is YouTube. People are consuming increasing amounts of video information on the internet. Capitalize on this trend by creating a YouTube video that gives some valuable tips or interesting facts for your target audience. This will build up a social following and an audience to whom you can pitch your brand without spending any money on ads.

Free tools

When you’re carrying out a marketing campaign, don’t overlook all the free tools available online to help you track the effectiveness of your efforts. You can create free surveys with tools like SurveyMonkey to poll your target audience. Also, MailChimp offers a free plan that will help you build a valuable email subscriber customer base and marketing audience. When first starting out, consider using a free web hosting platform as well. Once you increase revenue and need a larger website, you will be able to afford and invest in one.

It’s possible to boost sales significantly without spending on advertising. If you’re on a low budget with a startup business, try the tips described here, and give your business a nice lift-off in its starting phases.


Emma Sturgis is a freelance writer based out of Boston, MA. She writes most often on health and education. When not writing, she enjoys reading and watching film noir. Say hi on Twitter @EmmaSturgis2.

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