No business ever got anywhere without marketing.
From ancient merchants hawking fish in a village marketplace, to 20th century companies creating TV and print ads, to today's digital marketing…
You need to make sure your potential customers know about you.
But starting a business is expensive.
There's no way around that. And sometimes, there's not a whole lot of budget left over for marketing.
That doesn't mean you can't pursue marketing at all.
While online marketing can definitely be a “pay to play” landscape, there are options you can consider that are accessible for entrepreneurs with low to no budget.
Despite not costing very much to implement, these strategies can go a long way toward getting the word out there and bringing in the leads your business needs.
Three options you can consider are referral programs, pitching press releases to journalists, and participating in relevant online communities.
One of the best ways to market is to avoid marketing altogether; instead, create a system that lets your customers do the marketing for you.
Consider the fact that people are four times more likely to buy a product when it’s referred to them by a friend.
Despite tech publication reviews, we still trust personal recommendations more than anything else.
What's more, establishing a referral program doesn't cost much, and depending on how you structure it, might be entirely free.
You could offer your current customers a discount on their subscriptions in exchange for referring a new customer, or offer a cash reward, if you’re really invested in this strategy.
Just make sure to get word to your customers (possibly using one of the other methods listed below).
Press releases and news features
People read the news regularly, and if you have something newsworthy to report, most news outlets will gladly report it for you.
Press releases are an inexpensive way to get your brand mentioned in major publications, and possibly pick up some inbound links along the way.
If you do all the work yourself, hunting down and emailing journalists, press releases can actually be a free marketing strategy.
Forums and groups
Don’t underestimate the power of lurking on public forums and social media groups.
You might see someone asking a question that you can answer (with your expertise), or catch wind of a local event you can use to promote your business.
The more involved you are with your respective communities, including your local neighborhood as well as your broader industry, the more you stand to gain.
Best of all, it usually doesn’t cost anything to become a member of these communities, so you can reap the benefits with nothing more than a few hours of your time.
You can find more budget-friendly marketing strategies over at Entrepreneur.