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.

  • APEC trade chiefs vow to speed up work in WTO

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Trade ministers from 21 Asia-Pacific countries on Sunday issued strong support to the World Trade Organization's efforts to boost global trade amid a flurry of regional free trade agreements. …

  • ‘Taklub’ wins jury prize in Cannes
    ‘Taklub’ wins jury prize in Cannes

    The Yolanda-inspired film “Taklub” has won a special award at the Cannes Film Festival in France. The advocacy film, which had a successful premiere last Tuesday under the festival’s Un Certain Regard section, is directed by 2009 Cannes best director Brillante Mendoza and top-billed by Nora Aunor. The award cited the film’s sensitive portrayal of individuals and communities in the Philippines fighting to continue living despite natural disasters exposing them to suffering and death. …

  • Orphan tops chemical engineering board exam
    Orphan tops chemical engineering board exam

    A 21-year-old orphan from Capiz topped the chemical engineering board examinations held this month. Remington Salaya, a cum laude graduate of the Central Philippine University in Iloilo, ranked first in the board examinations with a score of 83.30 percent. Out of 405 chemical engineering graduates who took the exam in mid-May, 239 passed. …

  • A sunset party for APEC delegates
    A sunset party for APEC delegates

    Greeted by the beat of Ati-atihan drummers, delegates of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation trade ministers meeting enjoyed a welcome dinner and cultural presentation at sunset yesterday. Dubbed FuntaSea, Shangri-La Boracay Resort and Spa’s Banyugan Beach was transformed into a fantasy island, complete with mermaids, fire dancers, and choreographed paraws (sailboat) representing the best of Boracay. With APEC meetings being held all over the Philippines, each presentation is conceptualized …

  • UN chief urges peaceful solution of sea dispute
    UN chief urges peaceful solution of sea dispute

    United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called Friday for a peaceful solution to territorial disputes in the South China Sea, where China’s increased assertiveness has alarmed its smaller neighbors. In Manila, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. appealed to China to respect various international agreements on freedom of navigation and aviation. Coloma’s call came in the wake of an incident Wednesday where Chinese naval forces warned a US …

  • Phl seeks transparency, inclusivity in Asean-China Center
    Phl seeks transparency, inclusivity in Asean-China Center

    Philippine Ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Elizabeth Buensuceso has called on participants of the ASEAN-China Center (ACC) brainstorming session to vigorously work on promoting ASEAN-China relations under the principles of inclusivity, transparency and centrality. The brainstorming session, attended by the ACC’s joint council and joint executive board members, also involved a midterm review of ACC’s work since its establishment in 2011. The ACC aims to promote …

  • Lebanon tightens rules on HSW repatriation
    Lebanon tightens rules on HSW repatriation

    Distressed Filipino domestic helpers in Lebanon may find it more difficult to return home. The government of Lebanon has tightened the rules on repatriation of distressed household service workers (HSWs), Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz reported yesterday. Citing a report from the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO), Baldoz said the Lebanese government opted to re-impose a previous policy requiring investigation into every case of HSWs who ran away from their employers and sought …

  • Army execs face attrition over promotion quota
    Army execs face attrition over promotion quota

    Dozens of Philippine Army officials may be removed from the service due to a promotion quota system in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, according to AFP chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang. In a letter to Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, he requested that the 30 percent promotion quota – which means that only 30 percent of those eligible for promotion in a given year will actually be promoted – in the Army be raised to 50 percent. Under the military’s attrition law, middle-grade officers …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options