In a market where famous brands rule, a start-up can have quite the difficult time attracting the attention of the average citizen. While it is a challenge, it is not impossible- all large brands started somewhere. It is also worthy to acknowledge that the small business will not have an extravagant marketing and advertising budget. There are however plenty of free- or inexpensive- ways to have people paying attention to your brand.

Needing more money to make money

The running rule in business is that there ought to be a form of investment if you’re to get a return, often put across in monitory terms. While that is the case should you wish to make quick sales, there are things you can do which, in as much as they cost money, they hardly dent your budget.

There are plenty of free online tools that you can use to make the initial buzz around the brand and product or service. The primary strategy is to be creative in how you apply the tools. A tax lawyer Toronto commercial companies hold in high regard can create sufficient interest not just in the niche market but to the average citizen due to how they go about their marketing. We all know of insurance ads that we’ve come to love but have never signed up for. You can produce a similar impact even minimal monetary investment.

What gets put in will take a different form. It will be in time spent and human resource, as well as other smaller aspects like fast internet and a call plan. With these in hand, let’s take a look at some free and inexpensive ways to get your brand on people’s radar.

Word of mouth is still king

Marketing 101 tells us that the best formula in marketing is having information about a brand pass on from person to person in a conversation. We’ve all had such moments. You spot your friend or colleague with something you admire, you ask them where they got it from, and they tell you. What possible ensues is a back and forth about its value-add for the price. If you’re sold to the idea, you’ll be making the purchase as well. The chain continues.

Word of mouth is the oldest marketing tool and in play when civilization began trading goods and services. It is currently the slowest, but still an effective tool to capitalize on. However, how effective it will be for your business is dependent on the value you bring customers. What you see is unfortunately not what you always get, and for that reason, paid advertising still requires endorsing from satisfied customers.

Tip: Before embarking on your business venture, streamline the problem-solving capability of your product or service, quality, pricing, and customer experience. It is these three things that most customers hold in high regard. That eliminates any “buts” that might cause someone to opt on even, at the very least, giving your brand a try.

Having a loyal following is what grows a brand and not entirely from acquiring new customers. It is the reason we see people camping outside stores during a release to get their hands on a new product. This type of zeal is what turns satisfied customers into brand ambassadors. They can convince those around them to “join the team” and will protect the brand when it comes under attack. The will only be willing to go the extra mile for something that has, quite literally, transformed their lives, and for a business that acknowledges their humanity and treats them with respect.

Getting there won’t be overnight, and it might require some nudging on your part. Thank you messages, referrals, loyalty points, and discount programs are some of the ways you can motivate customers to do your marketing for you. If the reward for using their time to draw other customers is substantial, they will be happy to oblige.

Offers, discounts, and promotions

The reason why new brand gives offers is to get people to try their product at a price where they feel they have nothing to lose. Giving an offer, such as “buy one get one free” is a method that draws people in. Why? Everyone loves free things.

In a marketplace where everyone is looking for a sale, people will automatically become attracted to your business. Word of the same will spread much faster. While it might mean more spending on your part, think long term. It provides the opportunity to have more people try the brand risk-free and certify it. If they are impressed with it, you’ve earned yourself a lifetime customer. They, even when the promotion runs its course, will be content at paying full price.

A business should be strategic in this approach. That could mean giving offers on a limited period, discounts or free items for persons spending above a certain amount, and group offers. Put together a strategy that works that won’t negatively affect your business once the promotion is over. The appeal that it won’t last forever is also what will drive people to action. Partner with websites such as Coupon to sell your products.

Run a contest

Winning has an allure to it. More people will participate and even draw their circles to help them will. That is another neat trick to get your audience to advertise on your behalf. There are ample ways to get people involved. It could be through a photo contest, a hashtag or a Q&A where the person with the most creative answer gets to win.

Another approach that draws more attention is where you let the “public” determine who the winner is. That means that those taking part in the context will urge their circles to make their way to the social page running the contest to like or undertake said action. That then exposes them to your brand as they get to see what is up for grabs.

Determining the price or give away largely depends on the target market. If you’re providing a gift voucher for your store, a $500 price bring different reactions from a teenager and a working-class woman. You can tailor it to be as specific as possible. Equally, ensure that this falls under your marketing budget- don’t spend more than you’re willing to pay on running the contest or give away.

Online advertising

Estimates show that there are more than three billion people online. Therefore, if a business is not advertising online, they are missing out. Figures also show that by 2020, half of the advertising revenue will be online, matching all “offline” media including TV, print, billboards, and the likes. It is therefore now the time to focus on taking your advertising online.

There are different channels for advertising. These include social media ads and AdWords that is the most popular. Google is the largest search engine with millions using it daily across the globe to search for information. In 2017, Google was estimated to have made $72.69 billion in ad revenues. The revenue generated has been on a steady rise for the past five years. Combined with Facebook that spent $33.76, these two giants constitute to half the total digital advertising spent.

Online advertising doesn’t require a significant spend. With a 10 dollars spent daily, a small business can reach thousands within a month or the duration of the paid ad. They are now more useful than ever, allowing for geolocation and specifying the demographic down to professional, age group and preferences. It is essential to point out that these (and the other tips) piggyback in websites and social media channels.

Here are some factors to integrate into your advertising if it’s to be effective.

Messaging: Anyone can place an ad. Potential customers have this awareness and have developed a filter for what advertising is worth their attention. How you tailor the message will determine if an individual will click on the link or keep scrolling.

State the benefits

The first step is making the benefits visible. In one line, tell the audience what they stand to gain from interacting with your product. The error that most advertisers make is to mention the features their products have. That approach does not the answer the “so what” question those interacting with the content are likely to ask. You might, therefore, state “Our jewelry adds a touch of class to an everyday look” and not “Our jewelry is made of high-quality diamonds from South African mines.”

Bring it to life but in simple language

A basic marketing rule is to use plain language that even a fifth grader can understand. Jargon, clichés, and buzzwords are off-putting and should be avoided at all costs.

The trick is to evoke emotion. Using the words “class” will have a person pause and picture themselves appearing prestigious and the feeling of importance that will wash over them. Stating that a product is high quality is vague. The benefits are therefore intended to make someone feel.

What makes you unique?

There are plenty of businesses offering diamonds, and it is safe to assume the same about your company. Your messaging therefore needs to answer the question “why us?” as it sets you apart from your competitors. It requires being authentic of your part and using data from customer feedback to underlying the main advantage. Therefore, stating “our customers tell us they feel special every day, not just on a special occasion” indicates that the jewelry is sturdy enough to wear daily, something uncommon with diamond jewelry.

Keep it short

The statement listing the benefits, evoking emotion and stating the unique selling point should adequately capture what a customer stands to gain from buying your product or subscribing to your service. If there is more, you can use two short sentences- people are more likely to commit them to memory that way.

Partner and volunteer

Another free approach to take when seeking to attract attention to your brand is through getting involved with other businesses. It could either take the form of coming together with another company to provide a unique offering or to volunteer for a cause you believe in and can stand with for years to come. These two get you access to networks that you others wouldn’t have gotten and given you free publicity.

Ensure that when settling on a partner organization or charity that they align with your values and are the best match. That involves undertaking ample research to determine who their other partners are if there have been any controversies or scandals or what their long-term business strategy is. Once you commit, both require time and resources from you, and it, therefore, needs to be something that you can allocate sufficient time to do.

When doing either, do not be afraid to share your branding material. These arrangements are mutually beneficial; on one person is doing the other a favor.


Getting your business noticed does not have to break the bank. If you’re a small business or a start-up, we hope that these few tips will set you on the right inexpensive path to expansion. Note that they all work concurrently along with other marketing efforts such as networking, running a website and social media pages, email marketing, etc.

Marketing efforts required to propel a business to the next level often get underestimated. Consider hiring a professional and formulating a marketing strategy that streamlines all company efforts. At the very least include how to promote word of mouth, running promotions, discounts, and offers, running a contest, online advertising, and partnering or volunteering.

By Chakraborty

Dr Chakrabarty is the Chief Innovation Officer of IntuiComp TeraScience. Earlier she was Assistant Professor of Delhi University, a QS ranked university in India. Before that she has held research positions in IIT Mumbai, IIT Chennai and IISc Bangalore. She holds 2 patents and over 20 research publications in her name which are highly cited. Her area of research is in smart technologies, integrated devices and communications. She also has a penchant for blogging and is an editor of Business Fundas.