When you are in start-up mode, enthusiasm is often in greater supply than cash. The good news is that a lack of funds shouldn’t stop you from being able to aggressively and successfully market your business.

If budgets are tight, I would tend to ignore more expensive (and perhaps risky) marketing tactics like paid search, print advertising, or trade shows and invest your time and effort (rather than hard cash) into three core strategies.

These three core strategies are:

  1. Blogging: Before you invest a single penny into any other form of marketing, make sure your blog is in good shape. Invest in great content and your blog will drive email marketing subscriptions and social media follows. Remember, great content always solves a problem for your potential customers and should have a clear call to action. Make it as easy as possible for your clients to either buy a product/service directly from your blog and if that is not possible be sure to at least attempt to harvest an email address or a social media follow. Never hide your email subscription form behind a button inviting your blog readers to join a newsletter – they won’t. It is much more efficient to promote more detailed content such as a whitepaper, an ebook, or a webinar via your blog in exchange for an email address.
  2. Email Marketing: You should start hitting your subscribers with an email marketing campaign as soon as they have joined your list. This is because email addresses do not age well (the average age of an email address is only 18 months). Because the most successful email you send will often be your first email, you should set up autoresponders to deliver relevant and engaging campaigns as soon as a new subscriber joins your list (often via your blog). Email marketing remains the most efficient form of marketing (both online and offline) available to today’s marketer. It’s been around since the beginning of the Internet and is not going anywhere soon.
  3. Social Media: In the perfect world, you will have the same people following you on social media as you do subscribed to your email marketing lists. You can then engage people with social media and sell to them via email. Too many people invest heavily in social media when in start-up mode before looking at their blogging or email strategies. While you can use social media to engage prospects in conversation, not investing in great content or email is like fishing without bait or a hook.

Once you have these three strategies in place, you can optimize by investing in other low-cost, highly efficient “thought leadership” channels such as podcasting, video, or PR. These will fit in nicely with your three core strategies and help position yourself as an industry expert and desirable business partner.

How did you market your business when cash was in limited supply? Share your comments below:

This post first appeared on the iContact Email Marketing Blog.