How early-stage startups can make the most of their limited marketing spend

- October 3, 2017 3 MIN READ

Millennials are busy, easily distracted, and hard to impress. Marketers today have many mediums and channels available where they can target and retarget campaign messages to get to them, however this is causing marketing budget to be too easily thrown at numerous platforms that are noisy and oversaturated, to ensure being seen and heard.  

Marketing at a corporate enterprise and at a startup shares many similar qualities and skills. However, the majority of startups don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars every year in marketing budget. The nature of our lean operations means constantly experimenting and iterating our activities across the business – and this includes marketing.

We knew that in launching easyshare, an app that collects and pays each housemate’s share of rent and bills, we would need to be tactical in our approach to get cut-through and engagement with the four million Australians currently living in sharehouses.

The insight behind our latest “free slabs for share houses” ‘campaign’ was that a large portion of our existing users were based in Sydney’s Inner West, and were 18-30 years old with alcohol, or beer in particular, as a strong shared interest. We spent time speaking with some of our users as well as our friends whom were in the same micro-segmented demographic. We also knew that living in Sydney’s Inner West was expensive and wanted to give something substantial back to the community.

In less than one day, we had already formulated our campaign strategy and go-to-market plan. We knew what we needed to do.

We reached out to the guys at Young Henrys and ran them through our idea to shout a case to local share houses that sign up to the easyshare app, and deliver them out on the first weekend of spring. They loved the concept.

Within the next four days, we arranged 100 beer coupon codes on Young Henrys’ website, put up a simple blog post up on our website, shared the word out on social media channels, and targeted private social media groups (e.g. Inner-West Housemates), and reached out to relevant media outlets like Broadsheet Sydney to get the word out there faster.

In less than four days we were able to drive 1,600 sign ups, nearly 11,000 unique website visits, and reached over 77,000 users on Facebook with nearly 10,000 post engagements – with less than five dollars spent on advertising.

So what were some key lessons to learn from our week-long activity?

Relevance is the rule of thumb

In everything we do at easyshare, being relevant and authentic is our first rule of thumb. It’s not as easy to upkeep this in a corporate setting when you’re trying to please multiple business units and stakeholders.

We know that the Inner West community is passionate about supporting local business, which is why Young Henrys was the perfect partner fit for us. The suggestion was thrown around to offer a free six pack of beers instead of a full case, however we recognised that millennials are savvy and if, as a brand, you want to incentivise them to do something, the offer has to be compelling enough.

We didn’t waste time – we took a punt and moved quickly

In previous roles I’ve seen awesome marketing ideas get lost to red tape, approvals, and unnecessary details. The “free slabs for share houses” campaign was nutted out on a Friday and live by the Monday. It’s this agile and efficient approach that enables us to constantly experiment and iterate our marketing activity.

We drove social engagement by having real conversations with our customers

We responded to every Facebook comment, question, and interaction, and were up late each night replying to inbox messages to make sure users weren’t in limbo. People were surprised at our responsiveness and willingness to do everything we could to help them sign up their housemates to our platform.

Our users love good banter; Facebook was a fun way to participate in housemate conversations. easyshare users even invited us to their house party the following weekend.

You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to execute a good idea

One of the biggest differences between marketing at a startup than a corporate organisation is campaign efficiency. The only money we spent was $5 on boosting a Facebook post, before we quickly switched it off as the post gained organic viral traction. We bought 100 cases of beer from Young Henrys at mate’s rates, and Car Next Door collaborated with us and provided a van for transportation as we personally delivered the slabs for five hours around the Inner West on the first Saturday of Spring.

By delivering a campaign that was authentic and relevant to our target audience, being agile in our approach and efficient in our delivery, we proved brands don’t need to spend hundreds of thousands of marketing dollars to get the results they want – even if you work in large enterprise.

By Siobhan Hayes, Head of Marketing at easyshare.

Image: Siobhan Hayes. Source: Supplied.