How can I market my business with a limited budget?

1. Product/service demonstrations
Demonstrations generally involve visually showing consumers how your product or service works; offering small samples so they can experience it themselves; or even allowing free trials.
Fayaz Valli, founder of Tanzania-based software development company GetCore Group, experienced positive results after personally demonstrating his services to potential clients.
I tried using flyers but it just didn’t work. From my experience what’s best is when I demonstrate to a potential client how the service works.” – Fayaz Valli, CEO, GetCore Group
In many parts of Africa, consumer education is needed to successfully introduce a new product. When Java Foods launched its eeZee brand of instant noodles in Zambia in 2012, it spent two years demonstrating the product to its target market.
I think people are much more visual and they like to see how you prepare noodles and would like to taste them. So, for instance, we go to children’s functions, and show people how you prepare the noodles and allow them to taste it and the impact of doing this has helped people appreciate eeZee Noodles.” – Monica Musonda, CEO, Java Foods.

2. Industry events
Every year hundreds of conferences, trade shows and meet-ups take place across Africa. These can be extremely valuable for landing new clients, so research upcoming events and plan to attend either as a delegate or speaker. To make the most of these events, you have to network with other attendees and follow up with an email afterwards to ensure that they remember you.
Conference organisers are always looking for engaging speakers, so see if you can land a speaking slot. But rather than pitching your product from the stage, aim to provide interesting information related to your industry.
In the last five years I have given away over 2,000 business cards, which means that I received at least 2,000 business cards. That is how one builds a network because you are then put in touch with more people as you go forward. What I try to do, as often as I can, is write on that business card where I networked with that person, what we spoke about, what they do, and why they might be important to me at some point in the future.” – Guy Lundy, Partner, Odgers Berndtson South Africa

3. Mutually beneficial marketing partnerships
Partnerships are a powerful way to expose yourself to customers you might otherwise never reach. It involves joining forces with other complementary businesses for mutual benefit. For example, if you own a restaurant, approach the local cinema to offer a movie-dinner combo – customers can both watch a film and enjoy dinner afterwards at a lower price than if they paid for the two activities separately.
Remember, each partner’s reputation ‘rubs off’ on the other, so you should ideally pair with businesses that also represent your company’s values.

4. Thought leadership
Being recognised as an industry expert or ‘thought leader’ can potentially lead to greater visibility, credibility and brand loyalty for your company, which in turn should boost sales. Establish yourself as an expert by maintaining a quality blog or submitting articles to reputable media outlets. Very soon journalists will come knocking on your door when they want a comment on a particular topic, thereby further increasing visibility for your company.

5. Affiliate marketing
If you sell your products online, make use of affiliate marketing through which others promote your products on their websites, in exchange for a percentage commission on each sale. When people click on the product link on the affiliate’s website, they are redirected to your online store where they can complete the purchase. A unique code in the link URL allows you to keep track all referrals that lead to a sale. It is important to offer affiliates high enough commission so they remain motivated to promote your product.
There are a number of online platforms that make it easy to run an affiliate programmes, including ShareASale, CJ Affiliate, LinkShare, HasOffers and LeadDyno.