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While it is true that marketing doesn’t bring in money and success directly, it is one of the most important factors that can help your business thrive. Running a small business, however, often means being strapped for cash for most of the time, so TV commercials and billboards are probably either out of the question or bad investment ideas. On the other hand, you should know that old banner ad and Google reviews aren’t your only viable options. Here are 5 creative marketing strategies that will help you build a recognizable brand.

1. It’s “why” not “what”

As a widely-renowned entrepreneur Simon Sinek said in one of the most famous TED talks, you should advertise your business starting from the “why”, not the “what”. Let me elaborate: you probably have a reason why you got into the world of business, and if your answer is “money”, you need to either drop the idea or change your way of thinking. Ridiculous as it may sound, being honest with your prospects is the right way to go, and it all starts with being honest with yourself. Do you want your product to help people, improve the world and to get paid for it, or do you want to get rich, and then maybe enjoy a couple of pats on the back over the quality of whatever it is that you’re pitching?
If your answer was the obviously nobler one, put it in your marketing strategy. Say “We came up with this awesome product so that it can help people do what they want!” not “Our product is awesome” Start with why!

2. Speak everywhere

Word-of-mouth advertising is one of the most effective marketing methods out there. Why? Because it is all-encompassing. For one, both telling your family about your latest project, and sharing it on a business dinner counts as word-of-mouth – people hear about it and spread the word, whether they are aware of it or not. Secondly, the more you speak about your product/service, the faster your audience will grow, so seizing every opportunity to mention your business is of the essence.
For example, starting a blog is a perfect (and most importantly, free) way to offer laymen a chance to understand what you’re doing. A webinar or podcast can help the audience feel like experts themselves. Speaking at an incubator or an expo actually puts you in the role of a teacher, which immediately inspires confidence. This is the best way to create buzz about your business.

3. Look for similar businesses

The way most large-scale businesses work is through competition, usually way past the healthy levels. While a little bit of friendly rivalry is almost always welcome, reaching out and working side-by-side with your competitors can actually breathe success. An increasing number of small businesses is getting into this way of thinking, and the best part is – this is the strongest type of word-of-mouth advertising – if an expert in the field recommends another company within the niche to the customer, they will instill friendly relations and encourage that company to return the favor.

4. Promotional material

If you think that promotional material is an outdated form of marketing, you are dead wrong! Think about it, there’s a reason why big companies still invest in giveaways and promo stuff. Think about giving away useful and quality items such as personalized travel mugs that your clients might actually use. Power banks, customized folding bags, gift cards, pens, notebooks – the list of ideas is endless.

5. Follow the market online

Social media is an excellent market tracking tool – looking into and reaching out to your competition and potential customers have never been easier. In fact, despite the fact that the vast majority of people think of Facebook Ads as a mere acquisition channel, it is actually one of the top tools for customer research.
How does this work? Well, since there is no limit to how many time a Facebook advert can be segmented, it is entirely possible to run an identical advert to as many as 500 different demographic and psychographic audience segments. Now, you can see which of demographic has the highest conversion rate by using conversion tracking. Pretty amazing, huh?

These five innovative and creative strategies for startup marketing can help you achieve success, even more than opting for expensive TV adverts and billboards. The majority of these are free, or borderline free, and it all starts with the way you perceive your product/service. Begin with “why”, not “what”, go out and talk about your business as much as you can, always be on the lookout for similar businesses and reach out to them, invest into promotional materials and use the social media to follow the market online at all times.

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