The world of marketing is changing. Gone are the days of throwing huge budgets at traditional channels such as television and magazine ads, billboards at busy intersections or posters on public transit vehicles. It’s never been easier to market your brand, sell your product, or disrupt your industry on a small shoestring budget.
From viral videos on social media to impromptu pop-up shop experiences in high-traffic spaces, it’s not only possible but practical to place brand messaging in front of the masses without breaking the bank. Here are some ideas on how to advertise and create brand awareness on a tight budget.
If one thing is certain, it’s that people love free stuff. Set aside a small budget to give samples of your product away, or set up a free trial or sampling program to get your product into people’s hands. If you trust that the quality of your product will have your recipients coming back for more, this is the best way to gain loyal customers. Don’t have a product that can be given away for free? Give other things away for free with your branding or logo on it. Free t-shirts, hats, bags, pens, stickers…people love free things and once they wear, use, or apply your logo sticker on their own stuff, they’re marketing for you as they go about their everyday life.
You are the best promoter of your business, so be ready to market yourself and your product at all times, in all places. Work on and develop a concise “elevator pitch” to sell your brand in casual conversation to anyone within 30 seconds. Plaster your brand across anything you own or use frequently, such as putting a logo or bumper sticker on your car, brand your laptop or phone, wear clothing accessories with your logo on it. You never know who you might meet on your daily outings, and if you always keep your marketing hat on, you may just strike potential customers at any moment.
Your online presence is a free platform from which to potentially reach millions of fans and followers. Spend time, not necessarily money, to work on it. Create an engaging voice, talk to your fans and customers in a style and with content that is interesting to them. Create a plan for posting on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other platforms. Work with influencers and bloggers with large followings to promote your brand and product. NYC’s cronut craze all started from a small bakery’s social media savvy: they invited food bloggers to come try their new pastry, causing it to go viral and resulting in daily long line-ups to get the coveted delicacy.
It costs a pretty penny to get a big mural or billboard posted up at a busy intersection, so many startups and small businesses use guerilla marketing instead to disrupt the traditional advertising landscape. Try adding your message to unconventional spaces to attract attention, get bold and creative with where you stick your brand messaging. This is a truly budget-friendly way to create awareness for your brand and get people talking about your message or product.
If your business has a brick and mortar location, an easy and inexpensive way to go viral is to create scenes and backdrops in your shop that will entice customers to post on Instagram or other social media. Design a selfie wall, put up funny quotes or graphics, or use interesting floor tiles or decals that will be irresistible to ‘grammers, creating instant impressions for your place of business.
In business, sometimes you have to ask for what you want. WIthout being too aggressive, try asking your customers to review your products online. Give incentives to complete reviews and refer to friends. This simple ask may be the most rewarding marketing tool you use. Reviews and referrals are the best way to attract new customers by way of word of mouth. If you’re not asking your customers to spread the love, you’re missing out on a great opportunity.
Shem Szot is current VP of Marketing and Operations at the Toronto-based StickerYou.com, where he has helped to drive triple-digit revenue growth since his arrival in mid-2015. Shem was a past partner in the email marketing startup EmailTrack.com, with B2B and B2C experience in small companies, as well as Hewlett Packard, where he most recently led the E-Business, E-Commerce organization for L.A. and Canada.