4 Cost Effective Marketing Ideas for Startups

Written by: Roshni Wijayasinha



Budgets can be lean at a start-up but that doesn’t mean that smart strategies can’t help smaller companies punch above their weight. By leveraging imagination and hard work, Marketing can be accessible to companies of all sizes, even those with modest (or non-existent) budgets. I meet many companies that feel handcuffed by their budgets, but with tight constraints can come creative ideas that can be even more effective than traditional “big budget” marketing.



Here are some strategies I’ve tried to get you started:


Leverage your network

Do you have any business partners that have complimentary offerings that you can cross promote / sell together? With similar customer bases, you can both pool your resources for a bigger campaign and wider distribution. Leverage your mentors, advisors, shareholders, incubator and / or co-working space to promote you to the other companies they work with and see if there are opportunities for synergies or cross-selling. Do your employees (or friends) have skills or hobbies that could be helpful to the business, like social media or graphic design? Finally, have your various stakeholders share your content with their friends and family – or better yet, start a referral program. In fact, “People are 4 times more likely to buy when referred by a friend” according to Nielsen.


Create multi-purpose, shareable content

From infographics, to quotes, to contests, to useful tips and even drives for social causes, creating content that can be used across many different channels and that appeals to your target audiences can be great to not only get customers’ attention, but also establish your brand and improve recognition even with a lean budget, by not spreading your message too thin. To begin, create a content strategy that addresses your messaging, and how you want to tell your story through creative assets and their distribution plan (across various channels like social, your website, or Google ads). Make sure to include “Share” buttons where ever possible to remind people to spread the word, leveraging the power of their networks as just mentioned.


Email Marketing

If you have a list of people who have already expressed some sort of interest in your company, products or services, consider emailing them, providing they’ve provided their explicit or implicit consent properly according to CASL rules – Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (learn more about them here. These are warm leads you can access without incremental costs of acquisition. Selling more to your existing customer base through email can also increase your customers’ lifetime value without spending. Think about what data you have on your customers’ preferences and behaviours so you can send personalized offers to them at the right time in their buying process for improved conversion rates.


Optimize your Marketing team

Consider an intern to help heavy lifting on tasks like social media, partner outreach and customer feedback. Outsourcing certain activities can also help reduce costs, in fact 59% of businesses surveyed in a Deloitte study cited reducing or controlling costs as their top reason to outsource. Leveraging in-house generalists and supplementing with external experts can greatly reduce your Marketing overheads. There are many different types of Marketing partners that help you start out without having to pay the full cost of hiring a full time Marketer – for example, Fractional CMOs, PR companies and Digital or Social Media freelancers.


There are so many more ways that you can optimize your budget for maximum results. If you’re looking to brainstorm, want to discuss your Marketing Strategy, or are looking for a Fractional Marketing CMO, my team at Prosh Marketing would love to help – we’re offering City MOGULS Members a free 1 Hour consultation with one of our Marketing Strategists. To book your session, email us and mention you’re a member here.



Roshni Wijayasinha is a Marketing leader with 15 years of experience, having launched over 50 products and brands in over markets worldwide, and helped companies attain 9 investment rounds. She started her career working on top consumer brands on the agency side, and has built her reputation by bringing creativity and strategic insights to leading global technology companies such as Microsoft, Sony & Kobo. Most recently, she has built out Marketing teams and brands at technology leaders like Juice Mobile, Thinking Capital, Benecaid and Foxquilt, and has founded Prosh Marketing, a Marketing Consulting agency that specializes in Strategy, Planning and Communications for SMBs and Start-ups.



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