What can you do to market a start-up without any marketing budget?

startup marketingBy this point most everyone seems to be repeating the same general concept, that “content is key”.  While that’s totally true, it doesn’t do much good if the content isn’t being aggregated beyond your current circle of influence.

Every company & startup I’ve worked with created content – video, blogs, whitepapers, social networks, etc.  But in my experience, marketing a startup with little to no budget is entirely dependent on good old fashioned networking-

  1. See who’s already socially influential on related topics (I know you said you don’t know bloggers – try tools like Kred or Klout to see who’s influential on social networks instead! But nothing beats personal research).
  2. Find out which of them has an engaged audience that responds when they speak.
  3. Then, reach out. Share their relevant social content, participate on their blogs, etc.  In other words, get the big players to know who you are (even if you don’t know them yet), then give them something worth sharing and talk to them about it. Letting them spread the word is a lot more cost-effective than trying to promote your own content to a large number of (probably less engaged) viewers.
  4. Specific Blogs/places to reach out:
  • http://www.killerstartups.com/startup-spotlight/
  • http://blog.ycombinator.com/
  • Twitter curators like @startuped
  • More importantly, though, industry specific sites – in your case you’d be looking for more niche sites that try & find new and unique web pages.  Posting an unofficial press release on some LinkedIn groups has proven successful for me.
  • Go manual – you’re obviously already here on Quora, but check out related forums too, it’s a quick way to meet bloggers.  Throw in a few Squidoo lenses, too,  about…eh, say, ‘learning from mistakes’ or the like, that link to your site as well as have useful info.
  • Kickstarter or IndieGoGo:  You may have already considered this, but with a good campaign these sites can actually work really well for startups – with the added benefit of raising capital.

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