Build it and they will come – right? Launch the website and sales will start pinging through – right? Have a great product – you’ll always have customers – right?
One of the most common mistakes made by start-ups is to run out of cash flow and not leave enough money to actually launch their product, so they take a chance and do it anyway. This often leads to disappointing results and makes it an uphill struggle!
Many businesses are forced to develop their start-up product or service on a shoe-string budget and this, I think will never change. It’s sensible to shop around and find good value for your needs – market research, product development, IP, Trademarks, packaging and graphic design all cost money so a well-considered budget is needed. But, what is most important is to plan your marketing strategy carefully and ensure you allocate funds from your budget to actually execute it once you’re ready to launch.
Fortunately – there are a number of ways you can get the word out about your business without it breaking the bank. Here are some of my tips to market your business without breaking the bank!
Take advantage of templates
Save your money on website development and use one of the many e-commerce offerings that provide website templates. You can have a snazzy looking website immediately and make changes yourself – even if you’re not tech-savvy. Shopify and WooCommerce are good places to start.
Prepare your social media presence
Create your Social Media accounts before you’re ready to launch. This gives you the opportunity to start building an audience that will perhaps buy your product once you’re ready to launch. Start with asking your friends to follow your social media links and get them to share your content. It’s important to build excitement about your business! I took people on my personal journey – I shared photos of my prototypes, the state of the office, pictures of my visits to China and talked about my challenges. These things start getting followers invested in you as a person and your business. Then it’s up to you to convert them to buyers once you’ve launched.
Collaborate with other players
Research all the companies that you think have a similar target market to you and approach them to do a collaboration. Remember when you pitch these ideas to potential collaborators, there has to be a win/win for both parties. Don’t just ask them to shout your name to all their hard earned, loyal customer base… Work out how you can help them too (Hint: giveaways/prizes are great!)
Prepare your sales channnels
If you’re product related, get some retailers on board before your launch. Put together a proposal with great images, pricing, minimum order quantities and launch dates. You may be able to bag yourself some pre-sales so you have income as soon as you launch.
Get your name out there
Consider putting some budget in to PR. A good Public Relations consultant can often find angles you’ll never think of. They pitch ideas to TV, Radio and Print Magazine and you may be lucky enough to get massive exposure for a fraction of the real cost. You must keep in mind with PR that nothing is guaranteed – it can be a little bit like kissing frogs, you may have to kiss a few of them before one of them turns in to a prince!
Spend some coins on advertising
here are plenty of ways to make a few dollars go a long way. Consider Facebook advertising, Instagram ads and google AdWords. A word of warning – it’s not a dark art, but there is a fair bit to it and if you don’t take the time to learn or outsource, you can end up wasting your cash.
Offer your service or product as a competition prize
Major TV stations, radio stations, magazines and online businesses offer up amazing prize packages and often create a huge buzz for the businesses that have offered those prizes. The expense to you is whatever your product/service costs, but in return you could be getting huge exposure that you don’t have to pay for. Check out www.prizepig.com.au to get in on the action. This used to be a paid subscription model where you can register your product or service for companies that are looking for competition prizes – it’s recently become free, so you have nothing to lose.
Use referral marketing
Get your customers to spread the word with a great referral program. These automated programs allow you to reward your customers for spreading the word about how awesome your product or service is. It usually involves a small monthly fee plus a commission for the extra sales the Referral Program generates. There are many to choose from so do your research – I had great success with Referral Candy. It’s user friendly, reasonably priced and gets great results.
Whatever ways you choose to market your business – make sure you create a clear road map of how you are going to achieve sales. Creating a clear marketing strategy and ensuring you have the budget to implement your plan is paramount to success!
Emma Lovell, creator of CoziGo (formerly known as Fly Babee) won gold for Emerging AusMumpreneur of the year in 2016 and is now a Finalist for Rising AusMumpreneur of the Year 2017. She has also made it to the Top 10 for Best Baby Product in the 2017 Mother and Baby Awards.