“Jennifer our business only has #xxxx and I can show you our account statement if you don’t believe me. I really would love to do marketing o, but If I spend that kind of money now, I would have nothing left to run my business.”

This was a real statement from a friend of mine during a conversation we had about his recently launched platform. At some point during the conversation, I had to subtly remind him that if he does not market his platform, he wouldn’t have a business to run in another few months. I cannot say this enough, when it comes to getting your business out there, marketing is a big deal. As you think of your product you also have to think about how you will go to market with that product.

Having worked with/and for startups and small businesses, I am all too familiar with the budget constraints. There is usually too little cash competing with too many business priorities. This, coupled with the fact that for a long time small business owners have been told that marketing (and subsequently advertising) is for the big players with big budgets, have made them shy away from it until it becomes an absolute necessity.

The real questions are:

Can you create buzz around your product or service without a killer budget?

Yes!

Can you get people to care about your brand and actually want to engage with your brand without having to dole out a shit load of money?

A big yes!

These things are very possible as long as you are committed to going through the marketing process in a creative and deliberate way.

As we go further in this series, we will explore multiple strategies and tactics that you as a small business owner can deploy in growing your customer or client base. However, today, I would like to speak to 2 things that I consider very essential at the early/launch stage of your business that will cost you little or nothing to implement:

Be approachable

One of my favorite IG luxury fashion retailers once did a PSA that encouraged people to come into her store and window shop even though they might not be able to buy any of the items at that particular time. I thought that was really warm and inviting and it inspired my first interaction with her business.

Truth is, your brand essence notwithstanding, if your business projects an image of being aloof or arrogant, people will probably have a difficult time connecting and interacting with it.

Give something back

Earlier this year I bought a pair of shoes from one of these online stores and inside the box was a voucher with a discount code for 20% off my next purchase. This was to thank me for choosing them and to encourage me to choose them again. I was quite pleased with both my purchase and the incentive and let’s just say before the end of the day I had redeemed my voucher.

Make people feel appreciated for spending money on your business and you give them a powerful reason to want to spend more.

More often than not superior marketing can beat a superior product. Coca Cola and Pepsi are fantastic in illustrating this because despite the fact that Pepsi typically wins in blind taste tests, Coca Cola still controls a huge chunk of the carbonated soft drinks market.

However, superior marketing does not always imply superior marketing spend/budget. With a healthy dose of creativity, strategic marketing and sometimes just plain hustle you, with your little or no marketing budget, can achieve results that would rival that of an FMCG with their seeming infinite marketing spend.

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