Challenge: How do I market my startup idea with no (or very little) money

So you’ve finally decided to pursue your dreams and launch your startup. But without prior experience or connections, and very little money it may seem like a faraway dream. All entrepreneurs struggle at one point or another and the beginnings are usually the hardest part. But even though it appears so, not everything comes down to money and there might be alternative channels you could use to get people to know about your business, products or services. Here are 10 of them:

  1. Start a crowdfunding campaignCrowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo have changed the way entrepreneurs are raising money to fund their ideas, but more importantly they have provided a platform for market validation, consumer feedback, and exposure. They are a free and easy way to generate interest for a product in the early stages and reach unique users and potential investors.
  2. Talk to your clients Who better to talk to than people who are willing to pay for your product? Find out where your target market is hanging out, go where they are and engage in conversations. At this point, it is imperative that you are able to communicate the core aspects of your business to a stranger in 60 seconds or less in a way that makes sense. Although one-on-one chats can be highly beneficial, you might also try online surveys, polls, email outreach etc.
  3. Leverage the power of social mediaThe best part of creating awareness on social media is that it is free and provides you with a massive network of potential customers. So start by identifying the social media platforms that reach your customers best and post regularly about your industry, your business and your products. Additionally, you can hire a brand ambassador or do live videos.
  4. Network like crazy – There is no better way to build a business than to get out there, shake some hands, and get to know people. The bigger your network, the more access to funding, customers, partners, and advice. Use every opportunity to spread the word about what you are doing, exchange ideas with like-minded people and Embrace your local Startup Ecosystem in its totality. Get everyone to know you and your idea.
  5. Leverage existing relationships The relationships you’ve formed with various types of people in many different areas of your life can serve as a foundation for launching your idea. Identify the ones which are important at this stage and make a plan how those connections can work for you. From a long-forgotten friend to the street vendor, contacts are potential customers waiting for you to connect with their needs. In the end might turn out to be your greatest assets.
  6. Exploit online marketing tools – In today’s world, every business needs to market their product or service online. Thankfully, there are so many free or low-cost marketing tools on the Internet that help companies save money and time on marketing efforts, covering a variety of different uses and needs, everything from social media marketing to content to email and lots more. MailChimp, Hootsuite, Canva and Google Analytics to start with.
  7. Creatively package your marketing campaigns – Try to think out of the box when it comes to marketing campaigns. For example, people are more comfortable purchasing something they have been able to experience first, so a giveaway might be a good idea. Go out on the street and commission a mural. Provide an unusual sponsorship or a responsive billboard. Create an innovative print or revolutionary packaging. The choice is big.
  8. Start a buzz – A great way to start a buzz about your idea is by organizing an online social media contest. They are a great way to boost awareness of your product, build a community around it, and incentivize people to follow. The more engaging the contest is, the more interest your product will receive. A brilliant marketing tool as they are, they should also provide fun and engaging experience for the users. Don’t forget to give away an exciting award.  
  9. Partner up – When you’re a startup, you often find yourself doing everything yourself. Try to team up with a business related to your industry for a joint project or a local event. Partnerships with established companies offer credibility, visibility, access to a whole network of customers and possibility to leveraging their industry expertise. Partnerships can be a winning approach to grow your early stage startup.
  10. Join in on local contests – Never underestimate the importance of Startup weekend or other local startup contests. You don’t have to win a startup competition to experience the benefits. From media exposure to access to investors, the list is quite big. Not to mention the feedback and the networking possibilities.

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