How to Market a Startup with Zero Ad Dollars

June 24, 2019
Terri Maxwell

How to Market a Startup with Zero Ad Dollars

Don't want to spend money on ads? Do you hate selling? As a successful serial entrepreneur, let me show you how to think differently about this challenge. Learn how to authentically generate demand. 
Are you ready to build a successful business? Take our FREE Business Foundations course!

So, you’ve started that dream business and are now asking, “How do I grow my business?”

And, the truth is… as passionate as you are about your dream business, you’re scared that you won’t be able to grow it. On top of that, you don’t have extra money to pay for advertising and you hate selling.

It might seem like a difficult predicament, but as a successful serial entrepreneur, let me show you how to think differently about this challenge.

Here are 3 Business Growth Truths.

Succeed On Purpose Quote

Business Growth Truth #1: Advertising early in a business startup is a total waste of money.  

During the early phases of a business start-up the founder is not sure what matters to the buyer and as a result, doesn’t even know what key messages will work in advertisements.

If you’re shocked to hear this – just try spending $100 on advertising and see what happens. It won’t work.

All successful entrepreneurs have both made this mistake, and learned this invaluable lesson. You can’t advertise your way to start-up success.

Business Growth Truth #2: We don’t want sales. What we want to create is DEMAND. Demand is when the target market COMES to you!

New entrepreneurs just stuck worrying about “selling.” Successful entrepreneurs know DEMAND is what powers a business forward.

Demand occurs when your prospective clients or customers come TO you consistently. It’s more effective and easier than advertising because advertisements try to “get people to buy” which rarely works, especially for start-ups.

The concept of demand generation is a well-known technique that’s been around for decades. In some cases, it’s called “lead generation,” and most recently it’s been referred to as working “funnels.”  

Demand generation is basically a marketing “process” that ensures that buyers become aware that your brand exists and are interested in what you have to offer. When it’s done well, it’s effective. When it’s not done with the buyer’s interests in mind, it’s a turn-off. For example, if you’ve ever found yourself signing up for a free video only to be inundated with marketing messages – that’s demand generation in its typical form and can turn-off your potential buyer. But there’s a better, more effective way…

Business Growth Truth #3: There is an authentic way to generate demand by simply focusing on creating value and cultivating relationships with potential buyers BEFORE they buy.

This is called Authentic Demand Generation™ and it takes the process of generating demand to a more effective level as the focus is specifically on serving the buyer before they buy. Basically, adding value and building a relationship with them until they are “ready to buy.”

If you’ve ever gone to a grocery store on a Saturday you’ve seen Authentic Demand Generation™ in play with a strategy called “sampling.” Sampling is allowing potential buyers to try your product before buying it. If the product is good, sampling works extremely well.

Focusing on the natural process of building a relationship with your target market BEFORE they buy, rather than focusing on “getting” someone to buy, is what makes it work.  

Authentic Demand Generation™ is powerful, and the key is focusing on building relationships rather than selling, and finding ways to add value, rather than promoting.  

And you can do all of this for free. In fact, I recommend becoming really good at this BEFORE spending a dime on ads.  

To build a relationship with potential buyers, ask three questions:

1.  Where is my buyer now?

2.  What information can I share that will help them?

3.  How can I serve them until they are ready to buy?

Demand generation is about ensuring potential buyers (are):

  1. Aware you exist (this is the hardest part, because when a business starts, it is basically invisible). We first have to find the buyer and go where they are (online, in person). One of the biggest mistakes that entrepreneurs make is adopting a “build it and they will come” approach. They won’t come UNLESS they are first aware your business exists.
  2. Interested in what you have to offer (and say). To accomplish this, speak to them about their problems and what they want to talk about, rather than talking about yourself. The common mistake entrepreneurs make is that they try to get someone to buy before even knowing whether or not they are interested. Think about that last networking event you went to. Did you feel as if everyone was trying to sell you?
  3. Desire what you have (to satisfy their needs AND wants). The key to demand is learning how to position your product or services based on what the buyer both needs AND wants.  
  4. Act: Are buyers willing and able to take action on their desire? What’s important here is to target people who both WANT and can afford your services. Too often new business owners make this mistake of targeting buyers who can’t afford their services.

So, if you don’t want to spend money on ads, and if you hate selling, learn how to authentically generate demand. We have an online course to show you how, or choose the Small Group Coaching Option.

With the soulfulness of Wayne Dyer and the entrepreneurial spirit of Richard Branson, Terri is a world-class business growth expert, social impact investor, and serial entrepreneur whose purpose is to inspire potential. With her own money, Terri built a portfolio of purposeful companies, Share On Purpose, Inc., and now invests in and creates mission-driven start-ups.

In a career that spans more than 25 years, Terri has launched, owned, sold, rebranded or turned around more than 40 companies. She is known for her game-changing business models and personal transformation frameworks.

Everything she built came directly from a wellspring of perseverance and soulful resiliency, which she openly shares through her first purposeful brand, Succeed On Purpose.

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