Startups, here’s a serving of hard truth: Even the best product or service in the world is nothing if nobody knows about it.

The idea of marketing your startup may leave a slimy, icky, and cheesy taste in your mouth, but only because corporate speak, sleazy salesmen, and spammy offerings revolve around it.

Today, marketing is all about knowing who your customers are, their needs, and how to reach them. It’s about being honest and transparent, building relationships, and providing value that enrich experiences.

Ways to Market your Product or Service

There are many ways to spread the word about your startup creatively and effectively that are based on these ideals. With the right approach and mindset, you can promote your product or service without sounding too robotic or spending thousands in advertising.

Here are 30 creative ways to spread the word, build an audience, and create massive growth for your startup:

Build a beautiful landing page:

Perfect for pre-launches, a landing page can serve as a “teaser” for your product or service. It’s a great way to create buzz and to capture email addresses of interested users who are willing to wait for its release.

Need some inspiration? Land-book is a lovely gallery of product landing pages featuring brands like Reflection, Treehouse, and Bitcoin.

Create an awesome product video.:

Visually appealing and easy to consume, a well-made product video can stir excitement well enough to attract interested customers. When they see features in action and the benefits they can enjoy from your offering, they’d want to share your video and your product or service with others.

Create a spectacle:

One of the best examples is Mailbox, the email app for iOS that garnered more than a million user sign-ups in just six weeks since adopting a reservation system that limited the number of people who could gain access to the app. The takeaway: spark interest without being too predictable.

Start a blog:

It’s your startup’s very own creative space where you can make announcements, talk about your journey as a startup, news and updates, and share information about your industry. The key is to make it a place of value, not just a pedestal for self-promotion.

Set up an email newsletter:

Have prospects and visitors opt-in to your list and invite them to receive updates, exclusive access to new products and services, and promos and sales. You can also nurture new and existing customers by sharing quality content and engaging with your audience on a deeper level.

Share content on social media:

To be precise, share both your original content and other people’s content that’s valuable to your audience. By reaching out to others in your industry, you’re slowly and gradually building relationships and connections while providing consistent value to your audience.

Choose the best social platforms to reach your target audience and engage with people interested in your product or service. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn are especially popular among startups.

Host giveaways or contests with top-level blogs of your niche:

Besides creating buzz, a giveaway or contest is a great way to build relationships with these blogs while tapping into different audiences. When done right, the giveaway can drive quality traffic to your site.

Offer promos or coupons:

If you’ve just launched and don’t have a large customer base yet, you can invite people to give your product or service a try by offering a promo or coupon.

Sell your product or service as part of a bundle:

Customers are always looking for the best value for their buck, so a bundle can entice interested buyers to purchase a series of products or services for a price.

Create a mascot:

Give your startup personality with a mascot to represent your brand. Trello’s Siberian Husky, Taco, Toshl’s monsters, and Macpaw’s kitty, Fixel, give these startups a fun and inviting image that draws people to them.

Create a Slide share presentation:

It can be about your corporate culture, an interactive description about your product or service, or a visual presentation of your thoughts and ideas about a topic.

Incentivize specific actions:

Encourage customers to perform specific actions to unlock perks and benefits. Dropbox does this very well by giving new users a chance to increase their Dropbox storage up to 250 MB through several actions: take the Dropbox tour, install Dropbox on a computer, share a folder with a friend or colleague, etc.

Encourage referrals:

In short, give your customers a reason to share your product or service. Dropbox rewards 500 MB; Groupon credits $10; Trello offers 1 month of Trello Gold.  It’s a tried-and-tested method of spreading the word while growing your customer base.

Reach out to the press:

Research on your industry’s influencers and let them know about your startup. Invite them to test your product or service and to spread the word about it if they see it as a useful tool or resource for their audience.

Pitch your product or service to review sites:

If you’re a startup developing an app, you’d want it to get featured here on TechView Asia and also on well-known app review sites like AppAdvice or on tech sites like The Next WebMakeUseOf, and The Verge.

Join active communities of your niche:

Quora, Reddit, LinkedIn groups and Facebook groups are just some of the many places where you can join and engage with active communities of your niche. You can answer questions, make recommendations, and provide suggestions to encourage conversation.

Guest blogging:

With your best topics in mind, pitch and publish them on top-level blogs of your niche. You’re not only driving traffic to your website, but tapping into a huge audience that you couldn’t access with your blog alone.

Conduct interviews with industry leaders and customers:

This is another effective way to build solid relationships with both these influencers and your audience. You’re getting insight from respected figures of your niche and sharing the value of that insight with your audience.

Conduct surveys and share your findings:

This is valuable research that can answer many of your readers’ most pressing questions. It also gives an inside look at your industry; pair that with your ideas and opinion and you’ve got a highly engaging conversation going on right in your own blog.

Seek speaking engagements:

Organizations that host national and worldwide events may be on the lookout for speakers. If it’s an event or a conference that fits your startup and industry, you can reach out and offer to speak at the event as a thought leader or panelist.

Sponsor events or contests:

This is a terrific way to show your support for an organization or movement while spreading the word about your startup to the community.

Publish case studies:

An inside look at how your product or service has helped solve a problem or improve the lives of your customers is a great way to win the hearts of new and loyal customers. You can publish case studies as a downloadable ebook or on a page on your website. Either way, make sure it’s accessible, authentic, and well-done.

Publish a series on the many ways to use your product or service:

This can be a series of blog posts or how-to video tutorials that clearly show how a user can make the most out of your product or service.

Start a podcast:

While it takes a lot more work to set up and maintain a podcast, you’ll be able to engage with your audience on a deeper level since people can actually hear you speak. As a result, you’re positioning yourself as a thought leader of your industry by sharing your tips, ideas, and resources consistently.

Write and publish a book:

If you are passionate about a topic related to your startup or industry, you can write and publish a book about it. Ultimately, being a published author establishes you as a credible source and an industry expert.

Authentic Marketing is the Key to Startup Growth

Any business needs marketing, but it doesn’t have to be sleazy or embarrassing. Get creative with your marketing campaigns and seek authentic, life-long engagement with your customers.