Wednesday, June 8, 2016

How to Grow Your Startup Without a Budget



Here are 4 things you can do right now to grow your startup without a CMO or budget:


1. Use Free Resources to Spread the Word

There are some high-quality blogs and forums with a large and relevant audience that can be your content distributor and promote your startup. Popular blogs like ProductHuntBetalist and startupli.st are ones that are being visited often by potential customers, tech industry members (including possible future investors or employees) and reporters. Promoting the launch of your startup in one of these blogs can generate massive traffic to your site and even spark interest in tech reporters who can, later on, cover your startup in large tech news outlets.

2. Reach Out to Bloggers and Reporters Yourself

Having a small or zero dollars marketing budget probably means you won’t be able to afford a good PR agency. Don’t be tempted to work with cheap agencies that can’t deliver (for reference, good PR agencies in the U.S charge somewhere between $5K-$10K/month), but rather do the outreach yourself. Whenever you are ready to spread the word about your company, prepare a pitch or a press release and send it to reporters who you know cover your field. Like anything in marketing, the best results are the targeted ones. Most media outlets publish their reporters’ emails, and there are some great templates you can use to draft a release. Before sending, do your homework on what a reporter is interested in. Influential reporters and bloggers receive hundreds of pitches a day, so the major part of your work is to plan and create a great pitch. To make sure it’s appealing and interesting, run it by your friends first to solicit feedback.

3. Use Your Personal Network

Not all marketing and growth has to do with SEO, conferences and buying media. Your personal network is valuable and can lead to even more valuable second and third-degree connections. Maintaining a strong personal network is important for any entrepreneur, as it can be tapped into from the brainstorming stage – advising with friends on aspects of the product, name, etc. – all the way through to the launch stage and future partnerships.

4. Use A/B Testing Methods to Increase Conversion

A/B testing is something that can really help you grow, without investing a lot of money. By using tools such as Optimizely and Unbounce, you can maximize the potential of users who are already visiting your site. A/B testing can be tricky if not done right, as you don’t want to be overwhelmed by numerous variables. Simplify the tests, and each time, check one variable or two. You will be surprised how a small change in the color of a button or the size of your header image can boost your conversion rate, sometimes by 20%-30% or even more.

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