Big dreams, small budget: 7 affordable tips for marketing your startup

Jared Kruger

22 Feb 2020

Reading time: 8 min Featured post | Thought leadership articles

Building a business and NOT focusing on your marketing is like owning a car without wheels – useless. Because your business is as good as the customers who know about it and, if 97% of them are learning about local brands online, shouldn’t you be showing up, too? Here are the top 7 tips for marketing a small business:

Show Up, Have a Website

Unleash Your Inner Creative

Get Listed Locally

Find Influencers in Your Niche

Work With Google, Not Against It

Build Relationships, Get Networking

Learn, Learn and Learn Some More

7 Marketing Tips for Entrepreneurs

There’s one small truth that impacts most South African entrepreneurs, the startup landscape can feel like a battlefield. This is why marketing and branding is so important for equipping your business with the arsenal it needs to survive the long haul

Still, marketing for the novice business owner can be downright terrifying, and promoting your business can get expensive when you don’t know what you’re doing. So, knowing where to spend and where to hold back your budget is crucial. 

This is why we’ve compiled 7 startup marketing tips for new entrepreneurs that are practical, simple and easily adaptable for all businesses. 

1 Show Up, Have a Website

There’s a reason why having a website is number one on this list, it’s that important. Digital marketing starts and ends with your website, because your website acts as the digital face of your business. It’s an easy way for you to build credibility, provide detailed information, find more customers and have an ‘always on’ brand advocate. 

Luckily, building a website is becoming easier and cheaper to do yourself, thanks to content management systems like WordPress, Squarespace and Wix. These platforms offer a plethora of prebuilt, and sometimes free, templates that are easy to upload and customise yourself. 

2 Unleash Your Inner Creative 

Having polished branding and marketing material can instantly make your business look and feel more professional. And the good news is that you don’t need to pay a designer to do it for you. There are free online resources that can help you create great designs and source brand appropriate stock images.

Canva is an example of a simplified graphic design tool with thousands of preloaded templates for you to choose from. Whether you need to create business cards, posters, professional documents or more, this application really is your startup’s secret weapon. 

For all your image needs, Unsplash, Pexels and Pikwizard offer free, unlicensed and high resolution stock photos appropriate for almost any industry.  

3 Get Listed Locally

Online business directories are the Yellow Pages of modern times, but better. There are plenty of local and industry-specific online directories that are FREE for any registered business to list themselves on. 

The more exposure your business has on these platforms, the easier it becomes for potential customers to find you. Some popular business directories in South Africa include Hotfrog, Yellosa, Entrepo and Cylex.

Pro tip: Consider scouting out industry specific directories to improve your chances of finding high quality customers (or them finding you!). 

4 Find Influencers in Your Niche

Social media influencers are our modern day celebrities, and getting their endorsement can be invaluable for your small business. While reaching out to influencers with over 100 000 followers on Facebook or Instagram may prove fruitless, finding micro influencers within your niche can mean cost effective advertising to a very engaged community. 

Influencer marketing is becoming an attainable and cost effective marketing strategy for small businesses. Micro influencers (accounts with between 1000 to 10 000 followers) charge less or nothing for their services, depending on their previous exposure to brands. In addition, recent studies have shown that over 82% of consumers would rather purchase recommendations from micro influencers than their more popular counterparts. 

5 Work With Google, Not Against It

When last did you visit the second page of Google? Never, you say? Unsurprisingly, links on the first page of Google get around 92% of all the clicks. Finding ways to play by Google’s rules and stay in their good books is crucial if you want to benefit from that page one status. 

While optimising your website for Google and other search engines is complex, one foolproof way to try and get a piece of that front page pie is to incorporate keywords in your website content. Tools like Ubersuggest and Google’s Keyword Planner can help you find potential keywords, and organise them according to monthly search volumes and competitiveness. 

Pro tip: Concentrate your efforts on hyper-focused, longer keywords. For example, instead of using “bakery”, rather use “cake bakery in claremont, southern suburbs.”

6 Build Relationships, Get Networking

We get it, networking is not everyone’s cup of tea. However, when it comes to marketing a small business, there’s no denying the power that a strong professional network can have on your success. Not only can networking be an excellent way to find customers or clients, but it’s also an easy way to meet prospective suppliers and business partners. 

Finding networking events in your area can be as simple as a Google search. Some examples, in Cape Town specifically, include Cape Business Connect and Meetup. Remember to always carry business cards with you – you never know when you may need one.

7 Learn, Learn and Learn Some More

Keep on learning. No matter how big or small your business is, you should never become complacent about what you know today. As the world continues to evolve and technology makes strides, expanding your skills and learning new ones becomes crucial to the survival of your business.

Fortunately, getting and staying educated has never been more convenient. Udemy, edX and are just a few sites offering affordable or free online marketing courses.

But, if you’re interested in specifically learning how to market a new business, consider Startup School’s 6-week online course: Marketing for Entrepreneurs. Building on what we’ve discussed, this practical and easy-to-implement course is ideal for anyone interested in marketing a small business. 

Or, if you have the budget but not the time, why not support local by reaching out to one of Startup School’s alumni in the branding and marketing industry: 

Big Red Design Agency:

Brandmoji Media (Pty) Ltd:

Leseli Creative Communications:


Stella Omeka

Insightful tips.

Reply to Stella Omeka

Entrepreneurial qualities: Do you have what it takes to start your own business? – Startup School

[…] Marketing, branding and advertising (and knowing the difference) […]

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