If you’re like most beginning entrepreneurs, your bank account probably isn’t overflowing with cash. In the beginning stages of your business, you need to save on expenses and make whatever money you have last longer to give your business a fighting chance.
Small business marketing is not an easy thing to do on a limited budget, but take note: it might not be easy, but it’s not impossible either. And you need to market your business if you want to build your customer base. Here are a few frugal ideas to lighten your start-up expenses so that you have enough money to go around – into your marketing budget as well as your own bank account.
1. Cut back on your personal expenses.
You don’t need to go Dumpster diving for your new office chair, but you should check out big box retailers for deals instead of going to office furniture stores. Ikea is also a great resource for cheap furniture (www.ikea.com). You can get a semi-comfortable desk chair for as little as $25 through Ikea. You could also just use a folding chair (with a cushion) and a card table as your desk until you start making lots of money.
You can also find free coupons online for everything from groceries to office supplies. Even if you can only save a few cents at a time, those cents add up and equal money in your pocket.
2. Look for nontraditional financing options.
Your only option for getting some start-up money isn’t a loan from a bank. You can also look for free money – grants and prizes from business plan competitions and other business-related competitions can be a great boon to your bottom line. Check out small business centers in your area for any kind of grant programs and Google “small business grants” to find some national competitions.
3. Frugal marketing ideas.
The cheapest and most effective way to market your new business is through word-of-mouth marketing. Look for chances to wow your small pool of customers and ask them to spread the word if they were satisfied with their service or product. You can also ask friends and family to spread the word – people love to recommend something they believe in.
You can also get free press by going through the media. You can either market a news-worthy story that will get you interviewed and on-air for free, or you can volunteer to write articles for local publications. By writing free articles for newspapers and local magazines, you get a byline (a credit line) and usually a short bio line, in which you can mention your company. Free publicity, coming right up!
Another great frugal marketing idea is to partner with another business (start-up or established) that provides a product or service that complements yours. You can swap mailing lists or split the costs of advertising by advertising your products together. For instance, you could take out a newspaper ad that shows consumers how much better your product works when paired with your partner’s product (and vice versa, of course). You get to reach a wide demographic for half the price or you can get a bigger ad for half the cost.
There are many ways you can cut back on small business marketing and other costs associated with a start-up. Just remember, any kind of savings you do counts; you don’t have to save hundreds of dollars at a time for something to be worth saving on. Every penny counts!