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3 free ways to advertise your startup

What you can do to promote your business without spending a dime
Free hugs

Today we’re gonna talk about some free and/or almost free marketing and “para-marketing” tricks, that are foolishly forgotten and clearly underused by the new businesses.

Trick #1: Cross-marketing

It’s when you advertise “Billy’s Burgers” in your store, and Billy advertises your “Bobby’s Pet Store” in his. Works sort of like social media, but if you look deeper, you can set up promotions together (“buy a bag of cat food from Bobby, and get a free burger from Bobby”, “buy 4 burgers from Billy, and build a cat, then buy it some food from Bobby with a 50% discount”). The biggest problem with this approach is the lack of open-mindedness and motivation. And, well, also plain stupidity of Billy and Bobby: 8 to of 10 people I approached thought they were “above it”, “that doesn’t work”, and “why the hell would I want to advertise in your store?”. For Christ’s sake, it is FREE exposure of your brand! But no, they’d rather pay $500/month for a banner everybody ignores anyway.

Trick #2: Partner with your competitors

Sounds crazy, huh? In reality, your competitors don’t hate you as much as you think they do. In most cases they either don’t care or see you as a “freshman” and sometimes are even willing to share a piece of advice with a new adorable young entrepreneur (that’s you). When I started my business, I found a few companies similar to mine, and emailed them something like that:

“Hi, I own a company that does pretty much what yours does, but in a slightly different way: you do ABC and I do XYZ. We target similar audiences, sometimes I get leads who are, in fact, looking for ABC. I’ll gladly refer them to you, if you refer the ones looking for XYZ to me”

Most of them replied within a half an hour with “Yes, sure!”. I got a “Burn in hell, damn competitor!” only once.

Trick #3: “Bring a friend”

This technique would have been obvious, if it wasn’t so grossly spoiled by spammers. However, if used wisely, it can still work wonders. Uber does it, Tangerine does it, why should’t you? Let’s say you’re a proud owner of a new coffee shop. Give five customers a discount, then tell them you’ll give their friends the same discount. 5 people showed up saying they are “from Max”? Cool! Next time you see Max, give him a free cookie. Max is motivated (he gets a cookie), Max’s friends are motivated (they get a very special, “for friends only” discount), you’re motivated (well, you just naturally are a very motivated person).

By Jane Vern