This article is contributed by Sam Peters.
When you’re starting an online business, you probably have no shortage of ideas, motivation, and grand plans for the future of your enterprise. But there is one notable area where you likely have a short supply: finances. Unless you have personal reserves or an already-set collection of investors, there’s a good chance that your ideas will have to initially be implemented with a tight budget in mind.
This budget extends to your marketing efforts. While it is important to advertise your business and work to gain exposure, it is impossible to take out large ad campaigns or to simply throw money at the situation. Instead, you need to find approaches that maximize the benefits while minimizing, as much as possible, the costs you need to occur for them to be realized.
Along those lines, here are a few tips for marketing your startup, working to gain some initial exposure, and for accomplishing this without paying a dime:
Use Social Media
This goes without saying, but social media can be an incredibly powerful tool for boosting your exposure without incurring any costs. To this end, create a Facebook page for your business and open a Twitter account. Post status updates and Facebook and try to accumulate “Likes” from among your colleagues, family members, and friends. Doing so will insure that a larger number of people see your business on their News Feeds.
Study The Competition
Even if you aren’t in a niche industry, your business likely has a specific focus that is closely matched by only a few internet competitors. Study these competitors to get an idea of how they market themselves –especially, how they market themselves for free. Do they post articles on forums or other sites? How do they utilize social media? Does it appear as though they have mailing lists and newsletters?
A successful marketing campaign cannot simply be done behind a façade of internet anonymity. Instead, it is important to talk to people in the industry, whether on the phone, at conventions, or through email. Ask them advice but also ask them to spread the world. You may even get some helpful tips in the process.
While limitless, the internet still has its limits when it comes to marketing. This is especially true for a small startup that is looking to gain traction and exposure. If you operate in a niche industry or have a determinable customer base, you may have more success looking to reach this demographic offline in the early going. Does your target consumer group interact offline? Is there a place they go (ie a given retailer) or a way they communicate? If so, you may want to make yourself a part of that community.
These are just a few tips for increasing your exposure during the early days of a startup, when visibility is low and money is tight. The options available in this situation may not be as appealing as those you could find on a larger budget, but when done correctly they can return dividends nonetheless.
Author Bio: Sam Peters is a blogger who frequently writes for entrepreneurial and tech blogs covering topics from online marketing to the newest gadget and mobile web news.