There’s not a marketing manager alive who doesn’t fantasize about having a huge budget that would allow them to flood Facebook and Instagram feeds with ads, work with the world’s leading influencers and the most experienced PR firms and watch as new leads flow in like a river into the system.
But even though working with a massive budget is the stuff of dreams, it won’t necessarily help you hone your marketing skills. As in any field, producing something on a huge budget has its challenges, but producing with no budget at all is considerably more difficult. Most new startups work with a very modest marketing budget — and, often, that budget is zero. This requires them to think outside the box and make something from nothing as they try to stay afloat.
Consider the Micro-Influencer
One area to consider is working with micro-influencers. At Artik, our focus is connecting brands with these next-generation influencers who have accounts with 1,000 to 100,000 followers. Costs are much lower than working with a mega celebrity like Kim Kardashian or Snoop Dogg, and these investments can lead to higher-quality engagement. Micro-influencers charge less for promoting a product, and they agree to collaborate only if the product meets their values and the needs of their audience. That authenticity brings real brand value and engagement that can’t be bought.
In 2020, 240 influencer marketing were established, according to the State of Influencer Marketing 2020: Benchmark Report. The growing agency focus highlights opportunities for brands in the advertising market. But a gap remained: How do you connect these agencies to the right influencers at the right costs? Artik’s technology fills this gap and makes working with this impactful audience possible with smaller budgets.
Invest in People — and Get Creative With It
Clients often ask me what to do if their bank accounts are empty because they’ve spent all the money they had to develop their product, leaving none for marketing. “Think outside the box,” I tell them. “Be like @DudeWithSign.” Using a piece of cardboard, a black marker and endless creativity, this guy amassed 7.5 million followers on Instagram — which, if he were a business, would have translated into a huge income. “OK, but we’re not @DudeWithSign,” they reply.
So? Hire one. Give them a percentage of your company, convince them of your idea and offer them a fee when you finally raise some money or as soon as the first dollar lands in the company’s bank account. In other words: Invest in people. The people you hire and work with are the most important assets a company can have. This is true not only for the marketing department but across the board.
Amplify Your Happiest Customers
Another thing you can do when you’re short on cash is let your customers advertise for you. Personal recommendations and word-of-mouth marketing is as good as gold these days. Create a system that can thrive on the feedback of your customers. This might sound daunting (and take a little more time compared to throwing money at a flashy campaign) but it’s how PBR turned around its nose-diving sales and grew 55 percent — and how Superhuman convinced thousands of users to pay $30 a month for email.
At the end of the day, marketing success is all about personal branding. People love people, or at least, people love stories. Find the interesting individuals in your company and bring their stories to the forefront of your marketing efforts. It will directly affect people’s interest in your company.
Over the past year, I’ve had the chance to work with a wide range of clients, including both those who managed to raise large sums of money and can spare no expense, and those who need to think of every penny. While the latter group is a more stressed-out bunch, they are also highly productive and know how to best scale their marketing efforts with whatever funds they have. And when the real money starts coming in, they’ll know how to utilize every dollar in a much more efficient way than the first group.