Marketing Strategies

Marketing Strategies for Startups That Don’t Cost a Cent

The average startup doesn’t have much capital. According to the Small Business Administration, the average entrepreneur spends $30,000 launching a startup. However, other businesses are started for less than $3,000. Entrepreneurs that start businesses on tight budgets often lose perspective and spend too much on marketing, which can cost them later on. If you’re starting a new business on a budget, it’s important to take advantage of free marketing strategies to keep your costs down.

Here are five cheap marketing strategies every startup should use:

Include your business in your email signature

Every email you send is an opportunity to promote your business, even if the email itself isn’t business related.

How can you promote your business through email without it looking like spam? Simply include your business name and URL in your email signature. Even if you are sending a message to someone in your rotary or BNI (Business Network International) group, they may read your signature and decide to check out your new business.

Write guest articles for major publishers

Guest blogging is one of the most effective content marketing strategies. Large publishers are always looking for new voices, and they are especially interested in hearing from industry leaders.

If you have a unique perspective on a hot issue, try reaching out to leading publishers. Industry specific journals are good places for entrepreneurs to get free exposure. These publishers almost always allow you to have a byline and even a website link, so you’ll get plenty of great publicity for free.

If you aren’t a great writer, you can hire an internet marketing company to help you out. They’ll write the content and pitch it to publishers for you. They can also syndicate press releases on your behalf.

Related: 6 Ways to Create Marketing Demand

Reach out to relevant bloggers

There are many prominent bloggers in almost every industry, and building relationships can be a great way to earn free exposure.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

  • Find the right bloggers. You need to know how to find influential bloggers. It takes time, but you’ll need to read relevant blogs before finding ones worth pitching.
  • Use social arbitrage. Social arbitrage is one way to get exposure from influential bloggers. If you have a strong social media presence, you can offer to help promote their blog in exchange for exposure.
  • Provide free content. Providing free content is another great way to get exposure on a blog. Make sure your content is relevant, engaging and not overly promotional. Since many bloggers are using video these days, you may want to create some YouTube videos for them. Here are YouTube promotional tactics you should follow.

Attend networking events

We have focused on free online marketing strategies so far. However, there are ways to get free exposure offline, as well. Attending networking events is a great way to get your name out and receive free publicity.

Just make sure you choose events that relate to your profession. If you’re starting a new cloud computing company, you probably won’t make many great leads by attending your local Kiwanis Club. On the other hand, you may find a lot of business by visiting IT-related events.

Related: Sign up to receive the StartupNation newsletter!


Cold-calling has gotten a bad reputation, because so many people abuse it. However, it can be one of the best ways to drum up business if you do it right.

There are three things you need to do to cold call properly:

  • Go for targeted leads. Don’t program a robo-dialer to call people for you. Carefully choose recipients that may actually be interested in your message.
  • Research your prospect. People hate hearing from cold callers that don’t know anything about their business. Take some time to research companies first and tailor your pitch to them.
  • Be helpful. The biggest cold-calling mistake is forgetting the needs of your prospects. Understand their problem and guarantee solutions.

If you keep these factors in mind, you’ll outperform 95 percent of telemarketers.

What are your favorite marketing techniques to implement when on a budget? Please feel free to share in the comments.

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