4 Marketing Strategies Every Startup Can Afford

Do you have products that sell?

It takes more than having a fine product to ensure booming sales in your startup. An exceptional marketing strategy is what guarantees sales. Many entrepreneurs, however, find it pretty difficult to spend a fortune on marketing.

Below are a few working marketing strategies that cost what you can afford.

Affiliate marketing

Of all working marketing strategies, affiliate marketing is the most economical. Affiliate marketing can be adopted by any type of business irrespective of the business size. It has worked magic in my online businesses. Here is how it works. You pay people commission upon referrals to people to make a purchase of any your products or services You kick-start your affiliate plan running through networks such as ClickBank, ShareASale or ImpactRadius. Afterwards, you promote your custom affiliate plan on your website and get your customers to join the affiliate network. In addition, you can adopt the best reward system that suits members of your network.

To achieve a more effective result:

  • Collate a list of the big wigs in your industry,
  • Reach out to them through an email offering them a free trial of your product and
  • Make them understand the financial rewards they could earn via your referral plan.

Content marketing.

The Content Marketing Institute has it that nearly 90 percent of brands employ content marketing as a working strategy to secure business growth. It is perfectly suited for startups and smaller business who has limited resources at their disposal. Despite the popularity of this marketing strategy, it does not work for all its users. A major cause of this is lack of a planned content strategy. Not having a content marketing plan may lead to a futile marketing campaign. The

The first thing to do is to prepare an editorial calendar which helps organize the processes involved. Secondly, locate potential challenges and do an evaluation of your plan. Lastly, take stock of your strategy fares by doing an analysis of the increase in the audience via your content.

Do-it-yourself PR.

Records have it that over 540,000 new businesses are started every month. This clearly shows that you would have to compete harder for your own target audience. It is worth the stress when you proactively establish quality relationships with the media folks especially the bloggers and journalists in your industry. The relationship would earn you favourable and constant PR mentions.

By creating a unique pitch for yourself through the tone exclusive to your journalist or aspect exclusive to his or her publication, you increase the chances of you securing the attention of your target audience. Find out which writers or videographers focus on your niche in your industry so Use free tools such as Help a Reporter to locate journalists seeking interviews in your niche. This would help you make the most of the media.


This Marketing Strategy costs almost nothing. This is an emerging working strategy that gets the product right before the target market. It is a technology that involves ad-hoc integration for user acquisition.  A very good example of piggybacking was done by Airbnb on Craigslist website. Developers at Airbnb developed a system that allowed users to cross-post listings on Craigslist which actually doesn’t allow cross-posting.

The hard-and-fast rule of marketing is to locate a suitable platform and the right strategy to reach your potential market.…

How Referrals Can Grow Your Business

Referrals are like gold. They are the best form of advertising for your business. Surprisingly, many entrepreneurs don’t pursue them showing how hugely undervalued they are. This should be made top priority along with other advertising strategies. Some examples include;

Referral Partners

If you are serving the same niche but not competing, there are lots of opportunities to grow your business. A great example is weddings as recounted to us by our friends at Limo Columbia. They work with DJs, photographers, caterers and others. When one of the group gets a wedding customer, they recommend the services of their referral partners. How many niches do you serve where you could find referral partners to help grow each others business?

Word of Mouth

A study by Nielsen shows that 84 percent of respondents trust word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family. If you are exemplary at your service, you have most definitely received a referral or two. If not, here is how to set the stage to receive those referrals. In every business interaction, ensure you maintain high levels of professionalism, follow up with your customers, and give great customer support. During your interactions, you can briefly state that referrals are an important part of your business.

After client satisfaction, mention that any referrals sent your way would be duly appreciated. You can explain in detail how you will handle contacting them to put the client at ease. This way, they feel more comfortable in sending associates your way. If a customer isn’t willing, you can try and probe them further. Ask if they have had negative experiences before. If so, assure them of your professionalism.

If they still decline, thank them and don’t pursue it any further. Make sure you have practiced enough on how to approach customers with this issue. A few customers may be willing to oblige so ensure you keep a positive attitude and remain relentless. If, however, you do get one, thank them profusely, whether or not you closed the sale. A gift card, or even a thank you note, will suffice.


This is another method that can yield excellent results if used correctly. It is an endorsed mailing where a client writes an email or letter of recommendation and sends it to their contact list. This way, the recipients are more likely to be open to business with you as they trust the sender.

Testimonials are another written referral method where satisfied clients can post on your website page. They involve the client’s first and last name, and sometimes, a thumbnail photo.


This is a great way to meet new clients and spread word about your business; even better when dealing with business contacts who have an almost similar client base as you do. You can create strategic alliances and refer business to each other.

You can spice things up and provide incentives for referrals. Therefore, it becomes a mutually beneficial relationship. Referrals are an excellent yet inexpensive way to advertise and market your business. As with any marketing strategy, a referral program needs to be duly planned and executed strategically. This will see increased clients and revenue for your business, and stronger professional relationships.…

How to Compete with Large Companies

Competition is healthy for any business to grow. But most businesses shy away from the thought of competing with much bigger companies. They would rather compete with their fellow startups or other companies on the rise. What business owners don’t realize is that there are some advantages lost by big companies as they grow, that small and medium sized businesses have.

Customer Service

One great advantage to being an SMB is the ability to directly interact with customers as compared to the bureaucracy present in the bigger businesses. Cultivating customer relationships is valuable to a company as it can understand the customer needs better and meet or even exceed their expectations. SMBs are in a much better position to listen to the customers and deliver exactly what the customers want. You will see your business grow and expand through positive reviews and word of mouth marketing.

Niche Product/Service

Large companies have a wide array of products and services, therefore, numerous operations in different sectors. What this means is that they are juggling different products and giving them some attention. SMBs have the upper hand in this as they can opt to specialize in a specific niche and expand later when they grow.

Give all your undivided attention to one area and win at it. If you feel like you are in the market with well-established competitors, dig as deep as untapped sub categories, establish yourself, then start expanding. That way, you will have both the credibility and the audience to compete at a much higher level.


Unlike big companies, smaller companies can move faster or change direction promptly to suit a certain trend. It is much easier for a small business to tune itself to customer preferences, a trending topic, sudden waves or events. They respond promptly and will even run promotions and come up with new products to suit the season.

Large companies, on the other hand, take a bit more time to redirect operations. Their bureaucracy means they are slow. They often have to table several meetings, conduct studies, cast votes, etc. They profit better from upcoming events where they have ample time to prepare and promote the product or service.

Evaluate Competitors

Large companies have their shortcomings which you can come up with after a proper analysis. You can look at their customers, pricing, marketing strategies, competitive advantages and their strengths and weaknesses. It will help you identify areas in which you are slightly ahead or how you can use a different approach from theirs to scale. This is not to say that you should obsess over them. Create your own strategies and innovate whenever you can.

Choose your battles wisely to save your company on time, money and effort. You should never engage in fights you are bound to lose. An example is on pricing. Some big companies have the benefit of discounted prices which you may not be able to compete with. Instead, focus on other competitive advantages you might have other the big companies and capitalize on that.

Use Available Resources

Big companies are way ahead of you in terms of resources and equipment. They spend a fortune in advertising and marketing, unlike SMB. Thankfully, social media has risen rapidly as a tool to get information across to thousands of people at a low budget. Content marketing and social media platforms are an indispensable tool if used smartly.

Big companies sure have their numerous advantages such as a recognizable brand, they can outspend on advertising, a huge client base, etc. However, you shouldn’t be intimidated as an SMB because there are some upsides to it that you can focus on and outshine your big competitors.…

Grow Business with Current Customers

If you are in business, you are probably familiar with losing touch with customers you did business with months or even years ago. Businesses focus so much on new clients and leads and ignore the value of repeat customers altogether. Existing customers are a valuable asset that businesses don’t even realize they have. It might seem uncomfortable to re-engage previous customers, but it might do your business some good. Baltimore Limo (http://www.baltimorelimo.org/) uses these ideas to stay in touch with their business clients. It has created a steady base of business they can depend on. Here a few tips on how you can establish a lasting relationship with your clients;

A note through mail

They are probably overwhelmed by emails and phone calls on a day to day. A good traditional note through the mail would be an excellent way to capture their attention. You could include a great article that relates to their business, a newsletter or any other piece of valuable information.

Call them

This should be with a clear purpose in mind. Maybe you have a new product or service, some giveaways, etc. They are probably busy people, so you don’t want to waste their time with vague phone conversations. After the pleasantries, go straight to the point.

Stand out to your Clients

These days it’s not exactly hard to find people’s special events such as birthdays or anniversaries. If you spend enough time on Google or Facebook, this information will come easy. Set up reminders of these dates in your calendar or CRM and wish them a happy birthday. It is not standard practice, so this will get their attention. For the limousine business, these are perfect opportunities.

Ask them for referrals

Give your previous clients a call and ask them if they have anyone in mind who would be interested in your products or services. You will benefit from this by reconnecting with your previous clients and ultimately get new leads for your business.

Request for their feedback

Regular feedback from customers is a good way to gain insight into the client’s experience with your products or services. It also helps you know what to improve in areas where you might have fallen short of the client’s expectations. You can do this every few months through email, surveys, etc. This will also create a good perspective of your business in the clients’ eyes.…

How to Run a Good Meeting

Business meeting

It is relatively safe to say that most people, if not all, consider meetings a big waste of time. According to CBC news, 39% of Americans who attend meetings fall asleep midway into the meetings. However, their importance cannot be underplayed, and it is, therefore, necessary to strive for effectiveness whether you are the one organizing the meeting or an attendee at the meeting. If done correctly, they are a great tool to enhance productivity at work. Here are some tips on how to run a good meeting.


Before you send out invites, establish a clear objective for the meeting; what you hope to accomplish with the meeting. It may be that the company is experiencing challenges, a change of plans, feedback or a decision which has to be made in certain situations at the work place, etc. This prevents holding meetings with no clear purpose which are a waste of time for everyone involved. It also helps you to stay on course during the meeting. You may opt to share the agenda on the screen with your colleagues. It creates a focus for everyone involved as they know what to expect.

Attendance List

The purpose of the meeting should guide you on who to include in the attendee list.  Only the people affected by the situation need to be present. If peoples’ skills, input, and expertise are relevant to the topic of discussion, you are likely to have a more productive meeting.

Keep Time

When you make a deliberate effort to arrive and end your meetings on time, your colleagues will be more apt to attend your meetings. If possible, finish a few minutes before time. They will appreciate this as it shows that you value everyone’s time. The concentration span of individuals also varies so schedule meetings that last an hour or less. That way, everyone is actively engaged till the end.  If you have to go longer, take breaks in between to allow people to reset their minds.

Establish Ground Rules

This gives a framework to prevent derailing from the meeting’s agenda. For instance, if you need input from your colleagues, give a time frame for each person to air their views. Be firm on the rules and do not hesitate to call people out when they break the set rules.

Discuss important points and Decisions Before the Meeting

Sometimes very critical decisions need to be made during meetings. Therefore, communicating with people before the meeting is recommended. This gives everyone a chance to deliberate on the matter and come up with feasible solutions by the time you meet. It may be time-consuming, but it will surely increase the likelihood of a successful meeting.

Remove Distractions

An excellent way to hold a successful meeting is to eliminate all the possible distractions that could arise. This could be from an observation you made from previous meetings.  A good example is technology. If people are constantly checking their phones, iPads, laptops, etc., they are likely to not contribute to the meeting. Banning the devices from meetings and board rooms will allow people to remain focused bringing about a fruitful meeting.

Take Notes

Taking notes is a best practice that is taken lightly a lot of times.  It helps you keep track of important issues, questions or assignments that have been addressed in the meeting. A paper notebook is better than a computer or any other device as people might wrongly assume you are catching up one email or an agenda other than the meeting itself. If you are planning to send minutes of the meeting later on to the attendees, strongly consider this. Also, let them know at the start of the meeting.

Do a Follow Up

After the meeting, ensure that you follow up to make sure everyone is on the same page. People may interpret things differently, or some things may not be as clear to some of the attendees. A memo within 24 hours detailing the discussion, decisions arrived at, different strategies, responsibilities assigned, etc., would be a great place to start.…

4 Tips to Maintain the Right Business Culture During High Growth

A strong corporate culture strongly influences the success of any business organization. Business culture, in this case, means a workplace environment that allows your employees and staff to keep coming to work and applying their skills and best effort forward every other day. The chances are that you’ve heard about companies that are considered and perceived to be the “best places to work.” This simply means those companies or businesses not only see value in their operations of activities and what they do but also appreciate the workplace environment.

As your business gets into the growing phase, it’s important that you effectively scale up your business culture to ensure long-term success. Here are key principals to help you scale your business culture during high growth.

Make sure you’re walking the Talk

As much as many factors influence business culture, those at the top play a significant role in shaping the workplace environment. What you say every day as the leader will determine the business culture. If you want to maintain a winning business culture, make sure everyone in your leadership is on the same page as far as the values, vision, and goal of the business are concerned.

Recognize Employee Contributions

Entrepreneurs often remember to acknowledge and appreciate the efforts made by their employees during the startup phase of the company. You can easily interact with them and see what they’re doing. You even share the same room. However, as the business starts growing and you get to a higher rank, it becomes quite challenging to recognize and personally appreciate their contributions. You should make sure this happens regardless of your busy schedule. It’s important to recognize their accomplishments and appreciate their efforts.

Don’t forget to Bridge the Distance and Time Gap

Whether your business is expanding locally or you’re going international, you should aim at extending your business culture across all your locations. You may need to keep your staff members connected so as to allow for collaboration and communication. This connection can be created via an online community.

Managing Communications

One of the things that become more difficult during high growth is communication between top leadership and the staff members on the lower levels. It’s important to encourage an open-door policy that allows for direct communication across the ranks. Of course, there must be an environment that will encourage employees to share their opinions and experiences freely. Managing communications will help in keeping your employees informed about the company’s values and bigger vision. Create forums for input through brainstorming sessions across the different departments as well.