How to Market a Product for Startups: 9 Effective, Low-Budget Marketing Ideas & Tips

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One of the common challenges you would face as a marketer working at a new startup is how to market a product.

The founder has an idea and a great ambition, but the budget might be tight.

There are competitors too, which makes it a lot difficult to enter a saturated market and convince people to leave existing products and take a chance on a new one.

Of course, using ads will deliver better results quickly, provided the advertising campaign is handled well enough. 

Sadly, the effects always wear off too fast, leaving the metrics or Key Performance Indicators, like traffic and clicks, to drop tremendously.

In this post, you will learn how to market your startup using long-term strategies. You will find marketing ideas and how to start them even if you are new to marketing. 

Read on.

Why People Buy a Product

Marketing is the generous act of helping someone solve a problem. Their problem. 

… It is possible that your work isn’t good as it needs to be. But it’s also possible that you failed to be clear about who it was for in the first. 

Seth Godin 

There are many studies and research on why people buy a product. If everyone understood them, it would be easier to run campaigns. The ratio of successful businesses to those that fail would be 100000: 1. 

There are too many things to consider and too many influences, but at the heart of it, marketing is the process of bringing a quality product to those who really need it. If the product is good, and you take it to those who want it, it becomes easy to convince them.

For instance, you are not just selling toys. 

You are selling toys to mothers

Or you can make it better by selling toys to single mums who work full-time

Okay, we are not diving into marketing here. You just want strategies that work for your business, so let’s talk about that. 

7 Things You Should Do Before Picking A Marketing Strategy 

  1. Start with why
  2. Understand you products 
  3. Study your competitor 
  4. Understand your customers
  5. Define what differentiates your brand/product/service from others
  6. Plan for expansion or growth 
  7. Then create Your marketing strategy 

To take a deeper dive into all these steps, check the former blog post on the topic: 5 key elements of a business plan

9 Inexpensive Ways to effectively promote a new product 

These are 9 methods you use to create awareness about your products before launching.

They can be effective, depending on how you go about the execution. I will list and explain them below, and we will talk about all the tips that can bring success in each section. 

There are many methods you can learn on how to market a product online. These ones are quite affordable: 

#1. Start a newsletter 

Starting a newsletter is one of the best ways to build an audience. However, it is not something you can do in a short time. 

You have to stay consistent and offer something remarkably important for people to subscribe. Think of something you would normally pay for (an ebook, a course, a template) or something more consistent like weekly lessons on a particular topic. 

These are my top ten favorite newsletters and the value they offer: 

  • Hubspot newsletter — marketing report and statistic 
  • Pocket newsletter – fresh news articles around the globe 
  • James Clear newsletter – 3 short ideas from James, 2 quotes from others, and 1 question for you to ponder.

How to start a newsletter 

You will need 

  • Email subscription plans such as 
    • Mailchimp 
    • Cover kit
    • Substack
  • An offer
    • An ebook 
    • A course 
    • Series of content
    • Something of value such as tips, messages, statistics
    • Anything your audience will normally pay for 
  • A schedule. You can decide to send it out weekly or daily. 
  • You can simply tell them to input their email in exchange for an offer. 

Where to put the subscription link

There are many places you can put your email subscription link. The only rule is to put it where your exact audience can see it. So if you haven’t taken the time to know your audience and where to find them, now’s the time.

These are places you can put the email subscription link:

  • Social media pages
  • Facebook groups
  • Online communities like Reddit and Quora
  • Send it through another email list. Again, you might need to pay for it, but ensure the list is filled with your specific audience. 

How to write a newsletter 

You can simply save yourself time and hire a direct response copywriter. However, if you are confident in your writing conversion rate, write it yourself. 

For more tips on how to start a newsletter: 

Take a day or two to learn those. You are learning how to market your product effectively, which can influence your decisions during production.

#2. Write a guest post

It’s unlikely that one guest post can bring the amount of traffic you need to market your startup. 

However, I have seen posts that hit millions in traffic after publishing. So, yes, you can write a single guest blog post and see a remarkable result.

For instance, this post, 7 Rejections, on Medium has 40k + engagements 

This post statistics according to Buzzsumo

How to market a product

The Inbound Links according to Moz

Inbound link is another way of saying this is the number of websites or bloggers who think the post is great and decide to link to it. 

So, what makes a single post get such huge amounts of engagements?

We will use that post, 7 Rejections, as our example. Why does it have so much engagement?

  • It is a story of how Airbnb became what it is now: 7 Rejections from smart and expert investors who think the startup is not worth the money. 
  • It is written by the founder. 
  • Many blogs and influencers shared it on social media.

Now you see that getting a lot of traffic from one guest post is possible, but you can’t just write and publish and expect all of that. If you are not famous, you have to reach out to other bloggers and social media influencers. The post you write should be worth reading a million times. (I have read that single post hundreds of times since it was published in 2015.)

The type of blog posts to write for guest posting

Epic.

The type of blog post you write should be epic. It could be a guide, an interview, a story, an analysis, or a case study. In short, it should be timeless, and other people should want to link to it. 

Here are examples of blog posts that have been read many times. They have brought thousands of traffic, backlinks, and shares to their websites. Check them out: 

How to write a guest post

The second post is like a study guide on how Elon Musk founded his companies. The post is an example of what happens when a famous blogger meets a famous founder.

Remember when I said the types of posts you write should be epic? These are specific examples: 

  • Write a guide on a topic. It should be well-written. You will know you have written an epic guide when you spend quality time searching, analyzing, and creating the post. After writing and editing, the quality is so good that you think it is worth selling as a book. 
  • Publish a resources page. Some bloggers call this skyscraper content. It usually consists of a list of things, tools, and resources that your audience cares about. This is an example: The Ultimate List of Local Business Directories.
  • Do a series about a business/person/city. 
  • Do a case study 

Alternatively, do multiple guest posts 

This option is a better idea. Instead of writing a guest post, why not write 20 – 200 and publish on different websites.

This is how you market a product for a startup. You want people to notice it in many countries, places, and locations, so publishing many guest posts in several places can help you create a broader awareness. If you link back to your website, guest posting can increase your Domain Authority.  

Follow the steps mentioned before and follow them with the tips below: 

Publish your guest post 

  • On platforms that have a high number of visitors per month 
    • Medium.com 
    • Hackernoon.com
    • Entrepreneur.com 

These are all examples of websites with a high number of monthly visitors. Of course, it doesn’t mean your post will get all the millions or thousands of visitors, but it will help in gaining visibility to the number of monthly users or people that actively visit those websites. 

  • Websites with at least 10,000 monthly visitors. If a website with 1 million monthly visitors (who you think might be interested in your product) accepts a guest post, then by God, go for it. 
  • Websites with Domain Authority and Domain Rating of 50. The backlinks from those are considered to be quality. 

Domain Authority: All things being equal, a page on an authoritative domain will rank higher than a page on a domain with less authority.

Source: Brian Dean, Backlinko

Google considers some ranking factors even though they don’t admit it sometimes.

  • Optimize the post for search engines 
  • Link the post to your products/newsletter/landing page etc. 
  • Add a call to action. 
  • Before or after publishing, do outreach to other bloggers, founders, or marketers to share your post. 
  • Create useful posts. If you write a great post on a city, other travel bloggers will be interested in linking to it.

Please Note: 

Since you are writing it as a guest post, you will be missing out on some things such as backlinks, rating, and google ranking. However, if the post is helpful to the audience and optimized for search engines, readers will find you or your product.

How to find places where a to publish a guest blog post 

Google search 

Input the following in your query 

  • Keywords related to your industry + write for us
  • Keywords related to your post + contribute/contributors.
  • Keywords related to your customers + submit to us 

Cold outreach 

  • Send a mail to a big brand or business website, telling them if they would like to publish your epic blog post. 
  • Some bloggers might be willing to do posts about you or your business or product if they find it amazing.
  • A good example is a post where Tim Urban did a series on Elon Musk. Tim said Elon reached out. 

Approximate Cost 

  • It won’t cost a lot if you’re writing the posts yourself. The cost would be your time, skills, and writing tools. 
  • If you hire content writers, it could cost between $50 – $1000 per post, depending on who you hire. You want to hire the best writers, though, because although your post is a guide or some teachings, the writer should wow the readers enough to check your products.
  • You might pay an additional cost if the writing requires deeper research, such as interviews with experts or traveling to a location. 

A few websites will ask you to pay to write about you, but that’s an option that has changed a little from guest blogging. My understanding of guest blogging is adding value to another platform so that the reader gets educated by someone who knows better. It is like inviting a specialist. Therefore, it should be free or pay the writer. But check with the website and see if you want to pay for that. 

#3. Publish an SEO blog

This blog is an example of an SEO blog. It is a process of consistently creating Search Engine Optimized content on a blog, increasing traffic, and growing an audience. The commonest way is collecting an email list. When it is time to launch, both the blog and the email list will serve as a marketing medium. 

Imagine you created a blog. You start writing content on the blog using the best SEO practices. Six months down the line, you have a million visitors. 100 000 people subscribe to your blog, and 80% always check our weekly newsletter or visit your blog. 

You decide to discount the product and start informing your 100,000 newsletter readers about it. The response can be quite positive. You can get a lot of sales when you eventually launch. 

These are some of the questions that can help you when starting a blog:

  • Did you niche down? Don’t start a marketing blog. Start an SEO blog, or better, start a blog about “local SEO.” Narrow it down 
  • Is your product related to your audience? For example, a blog about teaching students how to pass examinations might fail at selling something like cannabis. 
  • Are you consistent? Do you understand and execute SEO effectively? 

Before you start an SEO blog

  • Start early. It takes a lot of time before you start getting a lot of traffic. So I will say start 3 years earlier and stay consistent if you are doing it yourself and learning about SEO as a beginner.
  • However, if you understand SEO or hire a professional, start about 6 – 12 months before launch. You would have started seeing results that you can build on.
  • Niche down. Don’t start a blog about software engineering. Instead, start on Front End Development or HTML. When you niche deep down, it is easier to become an authority in that particular area of expertise. 
  • Search Engine truly cares about E-A-T.
    • Expertise – how well you cover the topic and how satisfied your readers are
    • Authority – the number of other websites that trust you and link back to you
    • And Trustworthiness is about the design and content on your page. Do you cover what you should so that readers want to come back to or hang around the whole website?

These resources will help you in developing an SEO strategy 

Many businesses can leverage blogging to market a product for free. This blog is about SEO and storytelling (how to get traffic and write words that make you feel something). So you can stick around and learn one or two things. 

How to start a blog 

It is easy nowadays to start a blog. My blog is hosted on WordPress, and the domain is from Namecheap. 

  • Head over to Namecheap.com
  • Type a domain name
  • Add the name to your cart
  • Choose a hosting 
  • Add to cart 
  • Make payment 
  • Your blog should be ready in about 24 hours 
  • The rest of the job is about choosing themes and editing how your blog looks to readers. 
  • Once you have one or two blog posts, connect to Google Search Console and Google Analytics. These tools will help you understand what you need to improve, such as: 
    • Mobile-friendliness 
    • Site speed
    • Indexing 

How to set up a blog on 

It looks simple, but there are many things you need to learn. You can read this guide on how to start a blog to understand the foundation of things.

The three other important things:

  • Consistency 
  • Quality content all the time
  • Understanding of SEO

#4. Launch your product on free platforms 

This is one of the best ways to market your online business for free. However, you shouldn’t expect a great turnaround at once. Do your research based on 

  • 1) where your audience hangs out 
  • 2) the available free platforms in your industry 
  • 3) Your type of product.

I found this list of platforms where you can launch your products for free. 

Some names on the list include: 

how to market a product online

#5. Start a podcast 

There is a lot that goes into podcasting. For starters, you can’t do it alone. You need someone who has an impressive online presence, someone whose voice people want to hear. 

It all depends on the podcast’s theme, but the overall goal is consistency and growing an audience. It could be through email, social media followers, or consistent subscribers who get notified of your content. 

Approximate cost of starting a podcast:

Podcasting isn’t really one of the ways to market your online business for free, but it is quite affordable.

You will need:

  • The monthly subscription on platforms where you’ll share your podcast ($12 – $100)
  • Equipments for recording ($500 – $1000) 
  • Weekly expenses when hosting each episode ($100 – $500)
  • A channel for growing a following (email list subscription or social media)

You might spend about $2000 for the first month and half of that for consequent months. 

You can reach out to people who have successful podcasts to ask questions.

#6. Start a youtube channel 

Starting a youtube channel is also one way you can market your startup. However, it has the same weakness as starting an SEO blog or podcasting. It takes time. 

The good news is that the YouTube conversion rate was 70% in 2021. It is the second most visited website globally and takes 25% of all mobile traffic.

So when you ask how to market a product for startups, consider starting a YouTube channel. 

What you will need 

  • Recording tools 
  • Guest to interview/ video content creation 
  • YouTube subscribers

#7. Social Media 

When startup founders ask how to market a product, sometimes, it is not that they don’t know. Most times, they want the one channel that kind of drives results. Guess where many people would hear about your product first? 

Social media

According to Hubspot data for 2021, social media is the number one place for marketing, while websites come second. So, it is a wise thing to include it in your plan. 

Tips for creating social media content: 

  • You need an active number of followers. Some social media accounts have millions of followers but wouldn’t get 10 likes when they post. That’s not what you want for your product.
  • You need engagement. Asides from posting your products, you need people to engage. So you might consider doing a give-away or making your posts more interactive.
  • Ask influencers to engage with your post. Many influencers will charge you, but it would be worth it if 
    • They have active followers too
    • They are known in your industry 
    • People trust their judgments 

How to grow a following on social media

I wish I could give some personal anecdotes on this, but my social media following isn’t a good example at the moment. However, these are the things that are worth talking about

  • Share quality stuff consistently. 
  • Engagement is key. If you have allies who have a large following and engage with your post, your following will grow through their influence. So build allies who have a large following. 
  • Be yourself. You’re building trust that will sell your products

Each platform has a different approach to them, and you’ll probably need a course or two on how to market a product on social media. You can find free courses on Hubspot academy.

#8. Build A community (Slack/Telegram)

Slack or telegram is one of the ways to promote a product. This community looks more private than social media pages. You can invite your social media followers and use it as an early form of promotion. The audience can ask questions, and then you answer them. 

You can also share your products in other people’s slack or telegram communities. Ask for permission to avoid being kicked out. 

#9. Encourage user-generated content in exchange for freebies or gift 

You know why social media gets a lot of visitors per day. 

Everyone is a content creator. 

Unlike many websites or blogs, social media allows anyone to create content. 

User-generated content is content about a product created by the users of the products. 

It is one of the best if you’re looking for how to market a new product. You can end up starting a trend that will last for days.

Example of user-generated content:

My name is Ade, and I just launched a game app called STORY with 100 levels. I posted on social media that people should sign up and play. I added that I’m sending some gaming accessories to hundred people who first reach level 10. 

Don’t forget to use the hashtags #gamingwithSTORY

Now, you get how it works. People will start sharing the hashtags and posting them on social media and ask their friends to retweet so that the words will spread.

You have probably seen hashtags like that before, and maybe you have participated. The idea is to spread the news about a product or brand. 

The approximate cost: 

It depends on what you’re giving in return. I have seen book authors giving copies of books to people who participate in challenges. I have participated and won copies of the book this way. 

As a brand, what are you offering in exchange for the winners among the participants? How many winners? These are the things that will determine the cost of this marketing strategy. 

Some tips about user-generated content

  • It should be appealing to watch, read about or click the button even if people aren’t participating. (You will win if it’s about relationships). I don’t want to mute someone because they participate in product hashtags. 
  • The reward is important. How you make people feel is important to how to market a product. In our example, it would be fun to see the founder delivering the product. Or let’s say someone broke the record. Instead of winning level 10 after one week, he did level 25 out of a hundred. It’s worth inviting that person over and giving them an office tour. Feelings + reward >>> physical reward.
  • Social media is one of the best ways to promote a new product effectively through user-generated content. However, you can use emails, podcasts, or YouTube interviews either as a part of the reward or to share personal stories. People would enjoy the experience of other users of the same product and how it affects other people’s lives. 

General tips on how to market a product 

  • When building an email list, there is always an offer. A great one. People don’t just subscribe because they like getting emails from brands. They want something worthy of the intrusion your mail will cause
  • Tell stories. People care more about how you make them feel than what you sell. So how do you do that? Use storytelling in your marketing 
  • The end-users need the utmost satisfaction. Therefore, you need to understand the audience to execute an effective marketing strategy.

Conclusion: Combine some of the methods

If you ask experts how to market a product, they might give you clear and specific pieces of advice. One of those will be “use multiple channels.” For example, as you publish an SEO blog, start an email list and create social media content from your blog post. 

Go on and share the wonderful product solution

This post has covered how to market your product. Yes, there are other amazing ways you can market your startup. I hope this post will help you understand what options you can start with, especially if you’re launching in the next 6 months. 

PS:

You can bookmark the post and check later. I will explain some of the marketing strategies in the coming week. 

You can contact me for writing services. For Upwork users, you can check my project catalog

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