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It’s extremely rare for a company to succeed just because they have a great product. It takes time to build a reputation as a brand consumers trust. The only way to speed things along is effective marketing. For most startups with a limited budget, paid advertising isn’t a realistic option. But there are affordable means to get the word out. Here are four ideas that new companies should be using as early as possible.

Connect on Social Media

About 70 percent of Australians use Facebook, not counting the other social platforms. Each of them offers paid advertising, but they’re relatively expensive. Fortunately, it costs nothing to start your own profile and reach out to customers. One of the advantages of social media for startups is that this gives you an opportunity to understand your market. Experiment with different kinds of posts to learn what marketing materials work best.

Start an Email Campaign

Email is the digital version of direct mail, but much cheaper and easier. The caveat is that you have to get opt-in subscribers, otherwise you’re distributing spam and could get blacklisted by some servers. Ask people to subscribe on social media or your company site. Then you can send them newsletters, coupons, how-to articles, and more with your advertising built in. Make the content interesting and the format personalized to each subscriber. There is email software to help with this.

Build Advertising Into the Product

While every company and every product is different, your product should essentially market itself. Create packaging that’s distinctive, and be sure your packaging looks secure rather than flimsy to inspire trust. Add some positive, eye-catching images and original color schemes. You want your product to stand out on store shelves. Add product details, a value proposition, and a call-to-action. The idea is to get consumers intrigued with your product first, and then sell.

Display Signage

Traditional signage still works well, especially for local shops or service companies that rely on local traffic. A professional sign company can give you a lot of options. While your sign formats should also be eye-catching and appealing, you can put signage almost everywhere, from fluttering banners overhead to eye-level window or stand-alone signs. All-weather materials like plastic or vinyl can also be re-used whenever needed at events such as fairs or tradeshows.

The fact is that nobody’s going to be buying or even looking for your product or service if they don’t know about it. You may still be defining your brand in the beginning, but you need to find every affordable means possible to start building recognition within the first six months.

Author: Hannah Whittenly

Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake.

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