Source | Entrepreneur
Startups face many challenges, but none as precarious or life-threatening as the struggle to remain cash positive. The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) estimates the average cost to start a business to be in the neighborhood of $30,000; and there’s significant variance in this figure, with some businesses starting out for just a few hundred dollars and others requiring upwards of millions.
But, remember: These numbers are only startup costs. In addition, new companies have to pay thousands a month in team salaries, office-leasing fees, raw materials and other ongoing operational costs — all while struggling to secure enough revenue to stay afloat.
Caught in this dire financial balancing act, most entrepreneurs end up abandoning investments they come to view as superfluous, such as marketing and advertising. Yet the cruel irony is that neglecting marketing altogether stifles a business’s growth, leaving it less revenue to collect and forcing it into an even more restrictive budget.
With roughly an estimated 80 percent of entrepreneurs having no idea of how to measure a marketing strategy’s effectiveness, it’s no wonder why marketing is so quick to get the ax.
However, here’s the thing: Effective marketing doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Sure, higher-budget marketing strategies might bring more visibility and consistency in their eventual returns, but there are plenty of highly effective — and low-cost — marketing strategies you can use to help your startup grow. Here are nine of them:
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).