How to Get Your Product Off the Ground with a Shoestring Budget

Let’s imagine that you’ve been working for months on your latest product that you are confident is going to change the lives of everyday people. You have done your due diligence to prep for your launch, and the day is coming to unveil your work. The moments are counting down and you are ready to see your company soar to unicorn status within minutes.

Drumroll please! 3…2…1…

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Instead of the *BOOM* you were hoping for, you receive a mere *blip*. The initial response is underwhelming and is probably stinging your ego just a tad.

While you may be disheartened from the results, this situation doesn’t have to be the end-all-be-all of your product. There is still ample opportunity to get your product off the ground and into the minds of users, and it can all be done with minimal to no budget.

Of course, to do this it will take strategy, focus, and plenty of hard work (hopefully this is obvious to everyone reading). If you are willing to put in the effort to take your product to the next level, then the following steps will be key towards unlocking the growth that you initially anticipated.

Be Active in Communities

Before diving into deeper details, it should be said that when I say “communities”, I am not describing traditional Social Media. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram advertising each has its own separate place within a marketing plan, and these platforms have distinct strategies apart from communities.

So, when I do say communities, I am specifically referring to online forums, discussion boards, and websites based on inquiries and learning. Making yourself present in as many of these as possible is a hugely beneficial way to get your idea out to thousands of people. What’s even better is that most of them are completely FREE.

Here are a few examples that can be game changers for spreading the gospel of your product:

Regardless of what you are offering, there is a 99.99% chance that there will be subgroups within these communities that are specifically seeking what you are presenting (or at the very least willing to discuss your idea). Even better is that there are likely to be a strong base of people who are willing to give your product a shot.

While some of these platforms warn against being too “self-promotional”, you will still be able to discuss your product with thousands of potential customers. Additionally, being an active contributor can also provide key insights about your product that your team may have potentially overlooked.

Again, it is important to hammer the point home that the more you participate with posting and responding in these threads, the more success you are likely to have.

a guy realizing something live

Get Your Slack Game Going

For those who aren’t familiar with the power of Slack, it is time to start doing some research. Beyond being a communication channel for businesses, Slack private channels offer an unprecedented opportunity to have real-time discussions about a whole host of topics (many of which will fall into the sphere of your product).

Another great perk of Slack is that it has thousands of channels which are filled with a wide variety of professionals from across the world. What this boils down to is opinions from qualified and diverse individuals. Building dialogue on this level is often extremely difficult to find in other platforms, thus allowing you even greater insight into what your customer needs, and what your product can provide in terms of delight and solutions.

Additionally – and perhaps most importantly – the conversations that occurs in slack allows you to dictate the story of your product in real time. Static marketing techniques don’t afford you the ability to immediately answer concerns or inquiries, but Slack permits fluidity of how your product is perceived.

a group of animals chatting

Join the Product Hunt

Simply reading the ‘About Page’ of Product Hunt describes just how potent this website can be when trying to gain traction for your product; “It’s a place for product-loving enthusiasts to share and geek out about the latest mobile apps, websites, hardware projects, and tech creations”.

Even the most established companies working with strong budgets will put their latest work on Product Hunt. This is largely due to the fact that Product Hunt drives huge amounts of traffic because of the competitive tilt of the platform. New products posted on the site are voted on, and subsequently, the products with the most votes are placed higher on the leader board thus gaining more attention.

While obviously the products with the most votes will be seen the most, even products with fewer votes will still be in front of thousands of viewers. From this, not only will you be able to gain users, but you can grow your social media, email list, and your overall community.

The reality is that Product Hunt is considered a “darling of Silicon Valley” because techies and business people alike love it. There are very few alternatives that allow you the opportunity to garner significant impact for your product with no budget involved.

Meetup With Your Market

Being able to discuss your ideas face-to-face can be very challenging, but it can also be the best way to influence those whom you are looking to sell to. Meetup is one of the best platforms in the game that is designed just for this purpose.

While Meetup can be used in a variety of ways to promote your product in person, one of the most effective uses of these face-to-face opportunities is building a local community around your brand. Those who use Meetup the most effectively are not only building a local base for their product, but are also setting themselves up to springboard their product into a wider array of audiences.

As with many of the other tips that I have listed, being in the same location with potential users isn’t just a great way to network your idea, but also a very valuable method in gathering user insights.

Success Takes Heart

It must be said that while these tips can be the game changer you need, there is no substitution for the age-old adage of blood, sweat, and tears.

There are essentially no cases of brands, businesses, or products that succeed from standing by and being idle. No matter the size of what you’re selling or trying to promote, the level of your accomplishments will be dictated by the amount of hustle you put forward.

Luckily for those are ready to double down on their efforts, utilizing the strategies listed above will be essential in propelling your product forward, and it won’t empty your pockets in the process.

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