How Startups can Raise Funds for Their Digital Marketing Campaigns at Low Cost

Info Entrepreneurs Wish They Would Have Known Sooner

The solution I would like to point out here is an Affiliate/Sponsorship Program which you can use to raise funding for your website development and digital marketing projects. This program can include: Banner Advertisements, Sponsorship Ads and Referral Backlinks, where business sponsors (those that sell products and services complementing to yours) benefit from your website if they help you to fund its development and marketing.

Now you may ask: I don’t have a real website yet, how am I going to convince them to fund my project?

Here are 6 steps you can follow to make this happen:

First, make sure you know your products/services well. And your company’s value — WHY you do what you do?

Second, search for other local businesses who provide products and services that complement yours. Then filter down to those who share similar values — your potential Affiliate Partners (APs). Learn about those businesses by reading though their websites. If they don’t have a website yet, you can stop by their office to talk to the person in charge. To get their attention, tell them right away they provide somethings that complement yours, and if they interest in exploring some possibilities.

Third, find a professional web design company to design a demo of your website’s landing page. You should initially provide the designer a list of your selected APs (on step 2 above) and ask him/her to create banner ads for each of these advertisers to be placed on your landing page. For example: If you have 12 advertisers and 3 ad spots on your landing page, you would ask your designer to give you 12 duplicated copies (in PDF format) or a url link of your landing page showing each of the advertisers highlighted in the banner ads.

Fourth, you then email your landing page copy via PDF or url link to the APs that have their banner ads on your landing page’s demo. This will give them a clear idea of how they can benefit from the exposure on your website. Remember to state clearly in your email how much money (one-time) you want from them in order for their banner ads to be placed on your site, and for how long.

Remember, since you don’t have a real website yet and your business is just a startup, don’t over-estimate your website’s value and ask for a ridiculous amount of money to advertise on your about-to-start-website, because that could hurt your one-shot chance at getting the local businesses’ sponsorship. A good rule-of-thumb is to give the APs a “great deal” to persuade them because honestly at this moment, you need them more than they need you. So, depending on the locations of the banner ads on your site, you could offer each of the APs 2 to 3 years of banner ads for a one-time financial support of maybe $450.00 to $600.00.

However, if you have the money to fund the whole web design cost yourself, go for it because once you have the professional website up and running, you can ask the APs for a larger one-time fee to advertise on your site, or pay you monthly.

Fifth, follow up by phone right away after you send the email to the APs. Explain clearly again what your business does and your offer. Then every week for the next few weeks, follow up with an email or phone call to remind them of your offer. Please keep in mind that if any of the APs states clearly that they are not interested in your offer (and some of them will), don’t keep soliciting them. Just move on to the next APs on the list or search for other potential local APs.

Once an AP accepts your offer, write up a one-page agreement contract for that AP and try to get their funding ASAP. Make sure you state clearly in the contract the date you intend to get your website established, if you raise enough funds. Do not agree to any exclusive placement banner ad on your website in the contract. You need to be able to add more banner ads onto your site in the future. (Though if an AP offers you enough financial support that you think will help your site reach its full potential through exclusive placement, then go for it.)

Sixth, right after your website is up and running, email and/or call the APs to let them know the news. Then begin to search for a second tier of APs to raise funding for your digital marketing campaign. Since your site is now officially up and running, you can ask the second tier APs for a little higher amount (or monthly fee) to advertise with you. You can tell them what you will use the money for and they should love it, because promoting your site will generate more traffic, and more clicks on their banner ads.

Today, many startups understand the importance of digital marketing to their business success. But a common misperception is that they have to come up with a large chunk of money from their own pockets to accomplish it, which is not always the case. Above are 6 steps to help startups raise money for their website development and digital marketing projects at low cost. I hope you find this article helpful. If you do, please feel free to share it with your family or friends who want to start their own business someday. I wish you all the best.

Phong Nguyen

BA from St. Olaf College
MBA from University of St. Thomas
SEO from "the School of Hard Knocks."

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