How to promote your business on a start-up budget

You want your brand to make a big impact, but you’ve only a small amount of money at your disposal. With our tips, that’s all you need.

They say you’ve got to spend money to make money. That’s grand and all, but what if you need to promote your start-up business, but you’ve barely got enough cash to pay for your internet connection?

As ever, we’ve got the back of every barebones app developer, low-capital craft beer brewer, and artisans running an Etsy shop out of their living room. Want a whole load of ways to promote your start-up on a budget? We’ve got ‘em for you.

Be social but smart

It’s the 21st century; if you have a company that exists in the current time, you definitely need a social media account. Typically, Facebook should be your priority, with Twitter coming a close second, but there are additional options, so you need to find the best for your business. The visual focus of Pinterest and Instagram might be best for handmade greeting card companies, and YouTube can be great for showing your products in action.

These days, social platforms are how people are getting exposed to brands and choosing to keep up with companies and products that interest them. They’re free and can drive interest to your business provided you regularly post information, news and other engaging content.


Use low-budget advertising

‘What the devil? Advertising? But I’m a cash-strapped start-up, old boy!’ Yes, you are, but online pay-per-click (PPC) advertising through the likes of Facebook and YouTube can be done with very little money – we’re talking £1.

Even if your campaign doesn’t lead to many (or any) sales, it’ll still build brand awareness. If you’ve got a little spare change, or could possibly live without your next cappuccino, you could start your own PPC campaign before bedtime.

Mobile Phone with Coffee

Employ people power

Online reviews are the new word of mouth. More than ever before, people are consulting community review sites, like TripAdvisor, about where to eat and drink and what to see and do, and Trustpilot to find out how your business tots up against competitors.

Reviews are now so popular that you can even have them feature on your Facebook page. Customers have the option to leave a star rating alongside a comment, which features towards the top of your profile page. Don’t be afraid of the bad reviews either – nobody’s perfect – as long as the good reviews outweigh the bad, customers are able to make a trusted decision about using your service.

Try a Reddit AMA

What if we told you your business could use the same promotional tool employed by US President Barack Obama, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and world-famous singer and heartthrob Michael Bolton, and it’s absolutely free? All three, and many more famous (and non-famous) people, have done what’s called a Reddit AMA.

Reddit is like a massive, news-led online message board covering hundreds of topics, and AMA is short for ask me anything. Someone of interest, in your case the owner of a neat start-up company, answers questions from any of Reddit’s 160-million-plus users. Why bother? It generates interest in you and your business.

Just remember that they tend to be better received if they don’t appear overly promotional. Also, don’t be intimidated by all those big fish who’ve done it before; plenty of other ‘normal’ people have found great success on the site.

Use an email list

Having an email list means you have a cheap, quick way to promote whatever you want to people who have expressed an interest in what it is you do. Setting one up with the help of a site like MailChimp can make it painless. People who opt-in either via your website, as the result of a purchase, or even by filling out an online form, are a valuable resource.

Make the most of free networking

Showing your face at things like conferences, expos, and local networking events is a great way to get your brand known and make contacts in and around your industry. However, you’ll pay for the privilege directly or indirectly through tickets to get in or drinks to guzzle while you schmooze.

On the other hand, LinkedIn is free. It’s a work-focused social networking site that lets you connect with people involved in what you do who could just link you up with that supplier you need, or recommend.

Of course, a LinkedIn message will never have the same personal appeal as a face-to-face chat, but it also won’t cost you £150 in food, travel, and accommodation like a conference might.


Boom. There you go. A massive range of cost-effective ways to increase your business’s profile. It’s not quite a ticket to start-up success, but we reckon it’s pretty close. We’re modest like that.