Advertising Expert Michael Ostrow Shares His 4 Strategies for Marketing Effectively with A Small Budget

As a small business or startup that’s only been around for a few months, your budget dictates everything. But if you have little to no money, how do you make sure that you’re marketing effectively to acquire more customers and close more sales? Labs mentor Michael Ostrow, founder of Massive Pockets, held a session to discuss his four strategies for startups to market strategically with little or no budget to close more sales.

Strategy #1: Networking events

When it comes to building trust and recognition in the market, networking events are one of the most essential tools you’ll use as an entrepreneur. When you network successfully, you open opportunities for future potential sales clients, boost your word-of-mouth-marketing, and can eventually build trust with potential clients. “One of the most important factors for sales is someone knowing, liking, and trusting you,” Ostrow says. “If you're attending networking events and you're seen in front of people's eyes a lot, they'll start knowing who you are. If you start talking to them, maybe they'll like you and they'll begin to trust you because you're volunteering your free time for the same things that they like.”

But when you do attend networking events, don’t go solely for the purpose of trying to push and sell your product. Instead, try to make genuine connections with other entrepreneurs that you feel align well with your product or mission. “ I believe you should go to networking events so that you can meet people with the same mindset as you. Business can come much later on down the road,” Ostrow says. “But if you're just giving, and you're just spending time meeting people and making genuine connections, that's when you'll build those long-term connections and sale opportunities. You're not going to get a sale right now.”

Strategy #2: Content creation

It may seem like a heavy lift for a startup with little money, but even the most basic forms of content creation for social media can give you valuable visibility for growth and sales. Whether you’re regularly creating posts for Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin, or Facebook, any engagement you have with our audience outside of advertisement is valuable. “You have to try and put out content. You have to put out things that people would be very interested in and not just trying to sell all the time,” Ostrow says.

But because some startups may not have the budget to hire a high a full-time content creator or editor, try to aim for short, engaging posts with the goal of starting a conversation among those in your network. You can even try to repost or share articles that are relevant to your startup. If someone comments on your post, don’t let them go unnoticed—engage them. “But also make sure to let your personality shine throughout your interactions. If someone likes your post on LinkedIn, that’s not a signal for you to go and try to sell them on something,” Ostrow says. “Treat that as an opportunity to make a genuine connection to then sell them on something at a later date.”

Strategy #3: SEO

Digital marketing can always go a long way and have dramatic effects in this age of technology. One tool that helps boost your marketing is SEO, or search engine optimization. This tool allows you to see which words potential users in the market are searching in order to come across products similar to yours. This way, you can optimize your site using specific words, or phrases to draw people towards your website. For smaller businesses or startups that have been around for just a few months, SEO can provide valuable data to target specific groups of people in order to boost sales. “If you're doing SEO, and you're a local business and you're working with local demographics, you can get a map that works extremely well. But if you're doing nationwide SEO, there's a lot of factors you have to think about,” Ostrow says.

If you’re a bigger business, SEO may save you money but it’s a long-term project that doesn’t have immediate results. As opposed to traditional marketing, SEO gives you insights into the customers you may want to target but doesn’t necessarily pull them towards you. Once you have your SEO results, you can then use the data to optimize your website, so patience is key. “If you have no budget, then you need to put in the time to do SEO—a lot of time that can go into that,” Ostrow says. “It might not be worth it if you need some traction now, but if you're playing the long game and you know you're going to be around for a long time, you can start putting some time into it.”

Learn more about digital marketing.

This post is based on content from a WeWork Labs programming session.

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