Credit: phasinphoto,
Credit: phasinphoto,

If you’re a startup entrepreneur with limited resources, there are lots of ways to get the word out about your product. You can even do the same things that big brands do — but without the huge marketing budget. Here are my five tips for building brand awareness.

1. Be social everywhere. Today’s startup companies have to be proactive on their social networks. You can start with the big four (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+). But don’t limit yourself, depending on your targeted market.

2. Focus on quality. Every successful company has quality standards for their product, service or both. Do you measure your quality? What passes or fails? Make sure you spell out your quality standards to your team , and communicate to them that producing a quality product or service is everyone’s responsibility.  The good news is, when every team member holds each other accountable, quality becomes part of the company culture — and word of mouth travels fast.

3. Become known for something. It’s not enough to be known. You gotta be known for something. When your prospect sees or hears your name, they say “Oh, you’re the company that…” Can you finish the sentence in a few words? If not, you’re in trouble, just like Sears and RadioShack. Their brand recognition is very high, but they’ve lost their identity — and sales have suffered.

4. Do public relations. The editorial content in newspapers and magazines carries a lot more weight with readers than some advertising. Send out regular press releases, try to identify individual journalists to cultivate, offer your services to publications as an expert commentator, propose that you’ll write a free series of useful (and short) articles, and sponsor newsworthy local events.

5. Build a mailing list/database. Collecting the names is the hard part, so give your prospects a reason for them to provide you with their name and address — competitions, an emailed newsletter, the promise of advance information and discounts, maybe even a loyalty card. Work at keeping your list accurate and up-to-date. Try to get hold of email addresses. The fact is that email is cheaper and more versatile than postage, and it can be integrated more efficiently with other aspects of your marketing — notably your website.

See how our entire “Secrets of Growth” panel answered this question: How to Build Brand Awareness

Read Emily Blumenthals’ tough-love tips: Stop Whining and Build Your Brand