Marketing Tactics for Startups on a Budget
Being an “entrepreneur” sounds cool as heck, and in the current environment, some of them, according to Forbes, are like rock stars. “Fans” gather just to get a word or grab a selfie with these stars that, most likely, were far from the cool kids in school. And when you see their results in the marketplace or hear about it on social media, it all seams so easy — the American Dream on steroids. However, taking a closer look, it’s amazing how the script flips, and no matter how glamorous their life is as depicted by the media or slick marketing, there was, and continues to be, a lot of work involved to create and maintain that level of success.
“Hustle” is a buzz word that’s been around forever in business, but in fact very few of today’s “wannabe” entrepreneurs really understand what it means with regards to modern marketing. Adding to this confusion is the fact that many of the actual dictionary definitions of “hustle” have a negative connotation — a commonly used definition of “hustle” is: “[Slang] to get, sell, victimize, etc. by aggressive, often dishonest means.” (Webster’s New World Dictionary, Third College Edition.) That’s enough to make any honest entrepreneur decide NOT to “hustle,” when in fact another definition in the same dictionary states: “[Colloq.] to work or act rapidly or energetically.” Simply put, in today’s marketing environment, “hustle” comes down to the magnitude of effective actions directed towards achieving a stated goal that businesses and individuals are taking to get things going in a way that builds and maintains success. That seems obvious when you state it in theory, but understand here we are talking about ACTIONS. And very few businesses these days really understand what it means to hustle, or they simply can’t confront actually doing it.
Which brings us to that ugly, ugly word — cost. Many start-up entrepreneurs make the serious mistake of ignoring the cost of marketing and omit actually putting that into their business plan as a line item. It is true that there are ways to promote “for free” online — but those are not going to get results as fast as spending some well-placed marketing dollars. This is especially true if you have a B to B enterprise — your marketing strategy and tactics will need to fit your niche and actually reach your audience.
The good news is that in today’s digital marketing environment, a good amount of “hustle” can be accomplished using the concept of finding something that works and putting it on channels that will allow for its application in large quantities. However the ease of online communication also comes with the caveat that your hard work in creating and disseminating content will most likely not produce quick results — meaning volumes of new customers or sales pouring in immediately after you post or advertise. Like we’ve said before, to be successful in ANY marketing endeavor, you have to be in it for the long haul. This requires some real persistence on the part of the new business owner who is desperate for those first customers to offset all of the start-up costs—and that’s also part of what it really means to hustle.
To help you make the process easier — especially if you have a start-up brick-and-mortar business — we’ve put together the following “tactics on a budget” list that you can put into action today, and with some real hustle, can achieve great results.
1 ] LinkedIn Groups: Become a contributor to groups having to do with your business niche. Comment on relevant conversations and post content that’s valuable; don’t be a link dropper. Make sure that when adding your own content, its posed in such a way that it adds to the conversation; that’s actually the best way to promote you and your mission.
2 ] Door Knocking: How hard do you want to hustle? It just depends on how many doors you want to knock on. Put together a survey and go door to door getting responses. Not only will it gain you valuable marketing data; it may actually win you some business. 3
3 ] Free Media Sources: Press releases are a great way to get noticed if you know how to write one and who to send them to. If your business is doing something newsworthy or has just opened, there’s a great opportunity to write about it and submit it to publications. It will not only create valuable backlinks to your site, but will also get you noticed when it runs in a publication.
4 ] Donate: Find local community groups and donate some of your product or service. This is not only a great way to get noticed, but it’ll also to generate some good will in your community. If you’re looking to jog your brain for ideas, scanning the local paper or Charity Navigator will help get you moving in the right direction.
5 ] Blog Content: This is limited only by the amount of content that you can create. Gary Vaynerchuk has famously stated: “You’re only one piece of content away from changing your life.” That’s not to say you should only produce one piece of content, but rather produce a ton of high quality content and increase your chances of really making success happen.
If you want to actually predict how well you will do in business, it comes down to how hard are you willing to push to make your enterprise successful. However, it’s important not to do what Tim Ferriss calls “Work for Work’s sake.” It should be a large volume geared towards a goal, with the purpose of creating a result; just staying busy is not real hustle. Put in the time, put in the actions and be willing to persist; success is there for those who are willing to not just push, but to push through.
What’s your most successful way to “hustle” in business?
Post a comment and let us know!