You are an entrepreneur with a business idea, lots of passion, the determination to succeed….and no money for marketing.

What now?

In my opinion before you spend anything on marketing, you should first have some fundamentals in place.

Here are my top five marketing tips for entrepreneurs that I believe will provide a solid foundation no matter what marketing activity you decide to do.

1. Do something now

You can’t do nothing, no marketing. It doesn’t matter how uncomfortable or unfamiliar you are with marketing techniques and tools, you must do something.

Commit yourself to start somewhere.

Important: wherever you decide to start, and no matter how small, whether a product brochure, a small website or maybe Facebook ads, you must give it 110%. There is no room for half baked marketing. It simply doesn’t work. It needs to be well written, look very good, be well funded and you need to have goals in place to test its effectiveness. Without goals, you won’t know if what you’re doing is working.

AVOID: not doing any marketing or doing it in a half hearted, half baked manner and never really knowing if it is working for you.

2. Be (uncomfortably) different

This one you should know about: you need to stand out from the crowd.

But here’s the thing, it goes beyond just making sure your idea is different. The way you talk about it should also be different. You must not only be different. You need to act different.

Here’s a tip for knowing if your marketing is different enough: it needs to make you feel uncomfortable. You see, comfortable marketing is vanilla, wall-paper marketing and almost never gives you the necessary standout. If it doesn’t ruffle your own feathers, it probably won’t do it for others.

If you don’t have that “eish, should I say this” feeling, you’re probably not different enough. Your message is getting lost in the crowd.

AVOID: your idea is different, but the way you talk about it is not.

3. Think small, act fast

Whatever you decide to do, start small. I see too many ideas stumble because the entrepreneur is waiting for a full website to be completed or a brochure to be copy written. This is not the way to do it. You need to approach your marketing in small buckets and execute quickly.

You can’t wait for your marketing.

Whatever marketing you do, it must be achievable in a short time frame. It’s about gaining momentum and confidence, quickly.

AVOID: chewing off more marketing than you should, and then chewing forever.

4. Become a cheap date

You want to talk – just talk – with as many potential customers as possible. Note, this is not your sales pitch. All you want to do is meet with as many decision makers in your target industry as possible.

The way to do this is to find an “easy in”; something that will allow you to literally get one appointment after the next with the right people.

This “easy in” must be as far removed from your sales pitch as possible. It’s often a good idea just to approach it as market research and get to know your future customer better. Their frustrations, what they hate, what they wish could be improved.

AVOID: selling too soon and missing the chance to meet as many people as possible.

5. Sell to the chasers

In every market there are the leaders, and the chasers (and the losers – but we’ll ignore them). You want to be talking to the chasers because they are the guys with the most to gain from trying something new.

The problem is that often entrepreneurs try to sell to the market leader – the top dog – because that will be the home run. If only the biggest guy in the market buys from me.

But here’s the thing: the leaders are already winning. They don’t think they need you, and they act accordingly. They make you wait in reception, cancel appointments, send a junior to listen to you. Make you cheap coffee.

It’s a fact, people don’t change when they are comfortable. They change when they have something to gain, and that’s where the chasers come in. These are the number two and three guys in the market that will do anything to dislodge the leader from their perch. These are the businesses you want to speak to.

AVOID: trying to sell to the biggest dog in the kennel.

Conclusion

It is tempting to think of marketing as a list of activities that cost you money, but before you spend any money, you should have the right approach.

In today’s world their is no one who knows every marketing trick and tool in the book. So where does this leave the entrepreneur desperate to find a success recipe?

The answer is to start with the right approach.

The five tips in this article should provide a solid foundation from where to explore any marketing activity and ensure a return on investment.

Image source: Flickr