The No Budget Marketing Toolbox: For Startups and Those About to Start

You know, a lot of start-ups and those about to start, spend a lot of time trying to achieve conventional business goals with unconventional marketing tools and tips, and with good reason. Most of us have more time than we do money.

Go figure.

But there is an amazing selection of free or low-cost marketing tactics out there that can help you market your idea, product or service better and faster. It’s just a matter of finding them.

This toolbox features strategic and practical tactics every start-up and those about to start ought to consider as he or she sets out to grow his or her business.

Tool #1: Create Something Only You Can Make

Every successful start-up has a monopoly. You must have a monopoly on what you make, that someone else can’t make it the way you make it or provide it, the way you provide it.

Brilliant business and marketing is around figuring out that product you can make or that service you can provide, that people are willing to cross the street to get, search/poke around the web to buy, visit when they’re in town, and that is only available through you.

Action Step: Determine what you want to be “the best at” and then make that experience only available with your service or product. Remember to use off-the-shelf-software and explore becoming obsessively preoccupied with the minor details to succeed.

Tool #2: Provide Valuable, Relevant and Compelling Content

By now, if you’re interested in marketing your business online (and who isn’t at this point), you can’t escape hearing about content marketing.

Over the last 100 years, advertisers interrupted people’s attention with their advertisements. Today’s content marketing is not about interrupting the customer; it’s about attracting them with useful content.

People then grow relationships with you because they see you as the trusted source for that niche content. This can and will lead to sales.

This content must be located on a digital property you own and control. It is where your loyal listeners, fans, and readers come together. It can be as simple as a:

  • weekly podcast,
  • quarterly magazine,
  • monthly newsletter,
  • forum,
  • TV show,
  • daily blog or
  • as complex as a self-hosted community.

No matter what it is, it’s where you direct all internet traffic. Why? Because this is the place where you can best sell your ideas, services or products. You control the microphone and determine who has backstage access.

Tool #3 Follow-Up:

Let’s face it, there isn’t a business out there that couldn’t improve on their follow-up. Chances are you’ve neglected to jump on a lead received, not followed up consistently on requests by existing customers, or sent what you promised to send after an appointment with a prospect.

Your competition probably isn’t any different from you, which is exactly why you need to use this free marketing tool in a way where it’s remarkable.

Do you follow-up?

Do you ask?

Not follow-up to sell something, but just to know. Just to find out. Just to double-check. Just to ask. Just to make things right if they were amiss or make things remarkable if they were just merely good.

This tactic alone can transform your start-up when applied obsessively. When you’re obsessively preoccupied with the needs of others through follow-up—money, customers and good fortune start to show up. Money is a testament to your having served another human being.

Tool #4 Get a Podium:

Speaking, presenting or teaching is a great tactic that is underutilized by most start-ups. Getting a podium presents unique long-term marketing opportunities for you. It places you face to face with a roomful of prospective clients who have signaled their interest in you and your topic by showing up.

You have the rare chance to meet and address people who want to learn about you and what you have to say. And you don’t have to find them—they come to you. As a marketing opportunity, what could be better?

Tool #5 Partnerships:

Partnerships are one of the most underused, inexpensive, and effective methods of marketing and it doesn’t have to be complex.

In simple terms, fusion marketing is you saying, “Hey Patrick, if you enclose my business information and special offering in your next e-newsletter, I’ll enclose your  business information and special offering in mine.” or “Patrick, put up a sign for my store in your business; I’ll put up a sign for your business in my store.”

This marketing tactic expands your marketing exposure and reduces your marketing costs. Last but not least. Realize that almost everyone in your community is a potential fusion marketing partner. Reach new audiences and new wallets!

Tool #6 Sell the Story Rather Than the Product:

Businesspeople make decisions based on logic, right? Wrong! In every product or service category, there is at least one brand that uses a story and content to convince people to pay extra for that product or service.

For example I know a Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant who sells for twice the times the average price because she has positioned her business as the moral doctor for companies who value the moral and health of their white-collar employees. Another example is that people pay up to $6 a quart for bottled water because (as the story goes) it’s “healthier” than tap water.

Tool #7 Develop Better Relationships: 

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”― John C. Maxwell,

If you want to grow your start-up, then start genuinely caring about people. This, again, will cost you nothing, but time and effort. Every start-up and those about to start must play the lifetime value game. And you only win that game by owning the emotional equity.

The theme of this article is simple but surprising: You can build your business around marketing ideas that are inexpensive and that work, as opposed to throwing your hands up, thinking that marketing is hard and expensive.