When you’re bootstrapping a business every penny counts and I must say I have very tight marketing budget. I try to do most of the things myself and for free. And of course it takes lots of time and effort compared to advertising on Facebook or Google. You can see that by the number of followers we have on Instagram: slightly more than 200 in almost 2 years. Even though I don’t have much experience I believe it’s still valuable to share.
Word of mouth
While still doing early prototypes in the kitchen and giving them to friends I started getting more requests from friends and friends of friends. Because I had a lot of jars from my experiments I was giving away lots of them for free or at almost no cost.
Having started selling honey with berries over the Internet I was also asking people (mostly friends) to publicly share the picture of honey in exchange for a free jar. At that moment I didn’t yet know what influencer marketing meant.
These days young people (including myself who is not so young anymore) are watching a lot of YouTube, reading lots of blogs, Instagram, and other media platforms before committing to buying something. If it’s some electronics I tend to search YouTube for reviews. For an Internet service I watch blogs. For food I’m subscribed to various Instagram accounts and Pinterest.
Only couple of months ago I’ve discovered the term “influencer marketing” and experimented a bit with it. I contacted few people on Instagram with several thousand followers and asked them to post a picture of my products in exchange for free jar. The result was a massive (compared to normal days) flow of people to my web page and other social channels. I didn’t make many sales but got enough publicity and trust which was the main goal.
This changed when I met with a fellow small business owner who makes custom bicycles and furniture. He convinced me to try Facebook ads and Google AdWords saying that it’s much easier to sell a jar of honey dessert for €12 than a custom-built bike for €800. So I did an experiment.
I decided to spend €20 to boost a Facebook post. I made a nice looking photo with flowers and jars and started a competition: two jars to anyone who shares this post publicly and likes Mellis Berry page. The post was there for 6 days and generated almost 400 page likes, 23K views, and a few sales. And it cost me €4 less than initially planned. Given that my goal was to spread the word and get a little bit publicity the results were great.
Facebook allows to target very specific audience. You can select only males who are 40 years old and live in specific area and are also interested in German shepherds and computer games. While this is not exactly the target audience I was looking for the results were great.
One thing to add about Facebook competitions is that 98% of the people who react to such posts are those who spend their entire day participating in such competitions. This means that only the remaining 2% are the valuable potential customers.
Distributing printed ads
A good friend of mine who works for an advertising agency tried to talk me out of this idea saying that it’s useless to market online products offline. Spoiler alert: he was right! Nevertheless I decided to run an experiment.
I printed good quality flyers with juicy picture and offered a free sample jar to anyone who buys more than 2. I made 100 leaflets and distributed them in 3 parts of the city. I used only ares where people with higher income live. As a result I got one order and just few visits to the website.
I haven’t tried Google AdWords yet but I am unsure if I want to. After all Facebook allows more precise targeting and influencer marketing returns are the highest. The latter also allows me to make friends with very interesting people. So if you’re just starting a company and your social presence is minuscule, start looking for influencers and try to convince them to review your products.