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You’re a president and CEO, but your company doesn’t have 1,000 or even 100 employees. You’re not listed on the stock exchange (yet), and your marketing budget isn’t a million bucks. But you do have an exciting new company with big ideas, great products and helpful services that you’d love to tell the world about. Without that big budget, where do you start?

Mark Evans, a marketing consultant and author of Storytelling for Startups, has some helpful tips for getting some traction with your marketing, even if you’ve just opened the doors.


1. Start with your website
After all, it’s your landing spot for all your marketing. And, it doesn’t have to cost the Earth. “It’s okay to be cost-efficient when designing a website but perception is reality, particularly for startups with minimal traction,” said Evans. He recommends using a user-friendly content management system like WordPress because you can make many content changes without using a developer and designer. Avoid building a design from scratch; opt for an off-the-shelf template that can be customized with your brand colours and fonts.Also make sure that your web content contains clear messaging, well-articulated value propositions and strong calls to action. “Think about how the website will get visitors to do something: sign up, register, download, or purchase,” said Evans.


2. Choose your other channels
There are many marketing and PR channels to choose from, but invest time and resources into platforms that your target audience uses. “For some companies, Facebook is a no-brainer. For others, such as a B2B (business-to-business) brand, it could be case studies and videos,” said Evans.


3. Determine a budget

It’s not easy to generalize your budget since some PR tactics can’t be fully quantified. “Nothing is truly free because platforms such as Twitter require an investment in time and people,” said Evans. “LinkedIn can be useful but, again, it depends on the target audiences.”

Before setting the budget, first establish your public relations and marketing priorities. “When you have modest budgets, it comes down to focusing on what matters, such as driving leads and sales,” said Evans. You’ll likely need to make some tough choices but in many cases, less is more because it allows you to focus on doing a few things exceptionally instead of underperforming on many platforms. “The biggest mistake made by many startups is they try to be all things to all people, so their marketing efforts are diluted and ineffective,” said Evans.


4. Find compelling ways to tell your story, but keep it customer-focused

Finding your company narrative will take time, but start off on the right foot by keeping it customer-centric.  “Your story should align with the needs, interests, goals, aspirations and problems of your customers,” said Evans. Products are important, but focus more on your benefits when communicating with externally. “Customers don’t care about your product; they care about what your product allows them to do. For example, share how they will be more profitable, get in better shape, save time, travel better,” said Evans.

About Laurie Smith

Laurie Smith is VP, Customer Marketing at Cision. Follow her @LaurieSmith

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