5 Cheapest Advertising Methods for Start-Ups

Most start-ups have a variable advertising budget. That is, it varies based on how much the boss gets for donating blood. Right after selling hair, parting with bone marrow, and illegally selling a range of body parts to pay your miserable income. It’s a conundrum you see: No advertising means no sales, and no sales means no advertising. But using my business savvy, or maybe just stealing ideas from my entrepreneur boss, here’s some ways to advertise when your budget is between hilarious and non-existent:

 

Street performer with pipe organ

"Apparently, this isn't the best way to advertise hearing aids."

 

1. Social Media Activities

Yeah, everyone knows to get a Facebook page and start Tweeting. The problem is in that sentence: Everyone knows. To stand out from the million odd companies that do this, you need personality.

Don’t restrict your social media to just talking about your company. Allow the occasional diversion: Talk to customers about current events, what your hopes are, or how the food court’s kopi tastes like a skunk died in it (Are you reading this, Ayer Rajah Amenity Centre?)

The point is, you can use social media to build a relationship. It’s something a more expensive TV or print ad can’t do, and it just takes 15 – 20 minutes a day. The cost isn’t more than a laptop and an Internet connection, and maybe a good camera for events.

 

Dog at the computer

"Damn it, she's got more 'likes' than me!"

 

2. Piggyback Existing Publications

In my last job, we realized brochures suck. People had this look on their face when we gave them out; something that said: “I’d rather inspect the contents of the toilet paper I wiped with”.

Our solution was to write a helpful article in a booklet, followed by our ad. Then we contacted local magazines, and distributed the booklet free with their next issue. Our response rate went from under 2% to over 19% in a month. And our conversion rate (the number of people who actually bought) increased, because the magazines were targeted at the right demographic.

Magazines were happy to let us “piggyback”, because it’s a free article for their readers. And in return, we were able to leverage off their readership. For start-ups, it’s definitely a better option than chucking flyers and brochures everywhere.

 

Mag with killer dog on the cover, titled

"Can't decide if this is the best or worst zine for our insurance product."

 

3. Use Contests

Contests can (and should) be interactive events. Besides advertising your product, a contest also starts conversations with your customers. Please don’t use a lucky draw contest, due to the club of people who enjoy filling in forms.

Oh right, it doesn’t exist, which should explain my point.

Hold contests related to your product. So if you sell home-made energy bars, host an arm wrestling contest for a year’s supply. If you do dog grooming, host a cute dog photo contest. If you make parachutes, have a contest to see who’ll leap out the plane without one. You get the idea.

Contests are fairly low cost compared to traditional advertising. In most cases, some of your product is already set aside for free samples. Retain some for contests.

 

Child on NAVY obstacle course with dad

"Winner gets a key chain! Go, go, go!"

 

4. Use an Active Website

Small businesses used to rely on newsletters, but the Internet presents a cheaper option. Now you can run your company website as a newsletter.

Rather than leave your site static, keep it updated with news or articles. Apart from flashing your sales promotions, you can include guest posts from other blogs, customer reviews, or interviews with industry experts. White Wolf, for example, makes “open production” games: Their product design is updated on the site, with customers giving feedback at each stage of development. That keeps customers visiting the site, and involves them in the end product.

Since you’re going to need a site anyway, you may as well get your money’s worth. Aside from the time value, it’s cost free advertising.

 

Woman using computer, post-it notes everywhere

"Time to check Post-It-Addiction.com for today's therapy."

 

5. Assist NPOs

Most non-profit organizations (NPOs) have more reach than small businesses. Probably because, while you’re busy trying to sell budget socks or something, they’re shielding starving children from artillery shells.

Donate time or services to NPOs, and you’ll see tenfold returns. NPOs generate press coverage, to an extent small businesses can’t match. Also, the press coverage tends to come in the form of editorials, which carry more weight than ads in the classifieds.

Unlike a full blown ad campaign, your company only commits the resources it can afford. This can be as little as a few product samples, to completely hosting an event. Either way, you’ll be helping the needy while benefitting your business.

 

Animal Care Centre

"Man is technically an animal and I demand free room and board!"

 

Image Credits:
photographerglen, konradfoerstner, sbwoodsideOfficial US Navy ImageryVictor1558, david_shankbone

What sort of advertising methods do you use for your start-up?

Get more Personal Finance tips and tricks on www.MoneySmart.sg

Click to Compare Singapore Home Loans, Car Insurance and Credit Cards on our other sites.



More From MoneySmart
Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • US ambassador recovers from knife attack praised by N. Korea
    US ambassador recovers from knife attack praised by N. Korea

    The US ambassador to South Korea, Mark Lippert, was recovering from surgery Thursday after having his face and arm slashed by a knife-wielding activist in an attack applauded by North Korean state media. The United States condemned the "act of violence" which saw the ambassador rushed to hospital where his condition was described as stable after two-and-a-half hours of surgery that included 80 stitches to a deep gash on his right cheek. During the assault, Kim screamed a slogan in favour of …

  • New Moro rebel group emerges
    New Moro rebel group emerges

    A radical Muslim cleric trained in the Middle East and considered one of the leaders of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) has broken away from the terror group to form his own band of jihadists who are now reportedly providing sanctuary to bomb expert Basit Usman and at least five foreign militants, the military said yesterday. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla, citing reports from the field, said the Justice for Islamic Movement (JIM) was …

  • Sy moves up, Villar enters Forbes list of billionaires
    Sy moves up, Villar enters Forbes list of billionaires

    Eleven Filipinos are included in Forbes’ 2015 list of richest people in the world. Filipino-Chinese tycoon Henry Sy Sr. continues to be the wealthiest man in the Philippines. The 90-year-old SM supermalls, banking and property tycoon ranked 73rd among the world’s richest with an increased net worth of $14.2 billion from $11.4 billion last year. Sy’s net worth was attributed to the continued growth of his SM Investments Corp. and his more recent venture, the City of Dreams Manila resort and …

  • Billionaire finds wreck of WWII ship in Phl
    Billionaire finds wreck of WWII ship in Phl

    Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen says he has found the Japanese Navy’s biggest warship at the bottom of the sea in the Philippines, 70 years after US forces sank it. Allen posted a photo on Twitter on Tuesday of the World War II battleship Musashi’s rusty bow, which bore the Japanese empire’s Chrysanthemum seal. The American billionaire, who has also pursued space exploration, said his luxury yacht and exploration ship, the M/Y Octopus, found the Musashi one kilometer (1.6 miles) deep on the …

  • US billionaire says WWII Japanese ship found in Philippines
    US billionaire says WWII Japanese ship found in Philippines

    Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen said Wednesday he had found one of Japan's biggest and most famous battleships on a Philippine seabed, some 70 years after American forces sank it during World War II. Excited historians likened the discovery, if verified, to finding the Titanic, as they hailed the American billionaire for his high-tech mission that apparently succeeded after so many failed search attempts by others. Allen posted photos and video online of parts of what he said was the …

  • World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too
    World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too

    TOKYO (AP) — The world's oldest person says 117 years doesn't seem like such a long time. …

  • Ohio mom, boyfriend guilty; child emailed teacher for help

    PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (AP) — A woman and her boyfriend pleaded guilty to raping her young children and were sentenced to prison on Wednesday, a year after one of her daughters emailed a teacher for help and said she and her siblings were being chained to their beds, deprived of food and sexually assaulted. …

  • Australian drug smugglers being taken to Indonesian island for execution - media
    Australian drug smugglers being taken to Indonesian island for execution - media

    By Jane Wardell and Beawiharta SYDNEY/DENPASAR, Indonesia (Reuters) - Two convicted Australian drug smugglers were removed from a prison in Bali on Wednesday to be taken to an Indonesian island where they will be shot by firing squad, Australian media reported. The planned executions of Myuran Sukumaran, 33, and Andrew Chan, 31, have ratcheted up diplomatic tensions amid repeated pleas of mercy for the pair from Australia and thrown a spotlight on Indonesia's increasing use of the death …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options