How to market your product… with no budget » SMEInsider

How to market your product… with no budget

A great marketing strategy is an essential component for any new business looking to grow its following, promote its products and ultimately conquer the world. But how can you market effectively on next to no budget?

Here, Jodie Hopperton, Managing Director of the Institute of Promotional Marketing, draws together some top tips from startups who are doing it for themselves, providing some great marketing advice that will benefit not only start-ups, but anyone looking for maximum exposure on minimum spend.


6 pieces of advice for start-up product marketing

If you have a great product or service, but not a huge amount of cash behind you, how do you get word out?

Start-ups have to work smartly to make the most of the resources they have, and this doesn’t always mean cash; skills, knowledge and contacts are assets that can be just as, if not more, important.

Recently I had the chance to talk with a few London based start-ups learning about what they value in terms of marketing on a tight budget. Here are their six pieces top pieces of advice:

1. Vision

visionIt’s essential that start-ups can articulate a clear, strong vision. Consumers don’t just buy products, they buy brands and visions. It’s the promise of an experience. By setting your vision and getting it out there, consumers can see what they are buying in to. And once the vision is se, stick to it – if they like the experience they are buying in to, they’ll come back from more, don’t confuse them by chopping and changing.

2. Trust your instincts

Often underrated, all three start-ups stressed that listening to that sixth sense is an important part of doing business and staying authentic to your brand. It’s that simple: if something feels wrong then take time to think about why that is, don’t be pushed into doing something you aren’t comfortable with.

3. Sample, sample and sample some more

Getting your product into the hands of consumers is key. This can be a comparatively cheap option when looking at marketing budgets. Consumers may buy into the vision and understand a product conceptually, but they also need to try the product to really believe it.

Whether it’s being out on the street with tasters or working with retailers and magazines to test your products, getting in front of your potential consumers so that they can see how much they love your wares can work wonders.

I’ve always been a fan of free beauty samples I get in stores, but the start-ups I spoke to all said that full product samples are better – a full meal rather than a bite, a tube of hand cream not a sachet.

network4. Use your network to build partnerships

Look at people you have worked with in the past, or your friends; how can you leverage these relationships for the good of both your brand, and theirs? From tying up with a media partner to offer their consumers samples, to providing your expertise and becoming a trusted advisor to potential retail outlets, there are many opportunities out there if you look for them.

5. Hold your ground with retailers

Going back to your trust in instincts, it’s essential to stand your ground with what you believe in and the value proposition of your product. I was surprised that all three start-ups had been able to do this so effectively and by doing so had added more value (value proposition should take priority over price promotions).

6. Use your data to understand your customers

Whether it’s a simple Excel spreadsheet of consumers and their spending, or a fully-fledged CRM system, knowing your customers and what they are doing is important to hone your proposition and market appropriately. And don’t forget to say thank you!

Speaking of which – I’d just like to say thanks to FeverTree, Balance Me and Pod Food for their wise insights, and to High Jam for putting on a fabulous event. The full video of the panel can be seen here:

  • Jodie, thanks for this well-written article. You’re totally right in saying that there are a lot of things that can be done with zero marketing budget, however allocating a ‘time budget’ for evangelizing your product or services online is something that might also be at home in your list.

    Advancing your online presence will require a time investment, a lot like the time that gets put into this very blog to generate thought leadership and following. Do that for your brand and it pays off in spades. (