Do you remember Tivo? What about Zune? Joost?

Chances are (depending on your age), at least one of the above products is lost on you–you’ve never heard of it, don’t know what it did (or does), and have no plans to seek out this information any time soon. That’s because, in all three cases, the marketing of these otherwise great products was a complete flop.

The Zune had the opportunity to compete with Apple’s iPod in a battle for market supremacy, much like what you see in the Apple vs Android cell phone market today. But despite overwhelmingly positive product reviews, the Zune failed to catch on and, of course, flopped.

The Zune is just one of millions of products that failed primarily due to poor marketing efforts on behalf of the business. Here are some tips and tricks to properly getting your product or service in front of the people who would be interested, all on a small (or no) budget!


Establish an Online Presence

We’re long past the era in which placement in a newspaper or magazine is the pinnacle of market-reach. With the digitization taking over the world rapidly, an online presence is an absolute must when promoting a product or service.

Instead of paying thousands upon thousands of dollars for a few inches of advertising space in a high-profile magazine, go digital. How much information can you fit in a 3 inch by 3 inch square? What about on a full magazine page? You can include a picture, yes, and a short description. But a website can do this and much, much more, all with a substantially smaller budget.

Building websites isn’t a particularly difficult task, and hosting and domain purchases can be done for fairly minimal fees (usually around $20 a month). If your product is entering the market today, a website is an efficient way to convey as much information as you need on a tighter budget. They’re also useful in driving sales and garnering immediate market feedback and lead generation metrics.


Go Social

Step two in really building an online presence is dipping your feet into social media. Sites like Twitter, Facebook, SumbleUpon and the like are platforms that allow you and your business to connect directly with consumers.

These platforms are also unique in that paid advertising is built directly into the existing system. For a budget as small as $20 dollars, you can get your product in front of thousands of people. Furthermore, Twitter advertising allows you to target ads similarly (or even more specifically) than you could through traditional advertising platforms like newspapers and magazines. Ads can be targeted to different physical locations, different genders, age groups and interests.

For a larger budget you can generate leads and clicks on your website, build and expand your audience and create buzz around your product.


Use Email Marketing

To some tech-savvy users, email may seem like an almost outdated means of communication. While spam emails have inundated many an inbox, email marketing remains a very valid form of keeping customers up-to-date on the happenings of your business. With smartphones in nearly everyone’s pockets and the ease of connecting emails to a phone, an email can function similarly to a text message, going right to the screen of potential customers.

Additionally, email marketing and gaining newsletter subscribers are a great means of running online contests or sweepstakes, particularly when used in conjunction with your social marketing. A simple giveaway, such as giving a free product away pre-launch to one member who follows you on social media or subscribes to email mailing lists can drive signups at no cost to you at all.


Go Traditional

There’s a reason that classics are classics. If your business or product is launching in the near future, consider a press release. Placement could generate considerable buzz around a product, particularly one that solves an issue or caters to a need that many people are aware of. Press releases do come at a cost, of course, but for big releases and lead generation, they can be worth it if your budget allows for it, particularly if they’re picked up and you get placement or mentions in a local paper.


Not There Yet? Consider KickStarter

Not everyone is quite at the same level when preparing to market a product. While this post has been mostly geared towards those with the products ready for launch, pre-launch and pre-production marketing can put you ahead of the game.

If your product is still primarily in the “idea” or “funding” phases, crowdfunding sources like KickStarter can kill two birds with one stone, acting as a means of raising funding for production while simultaneously acting as free marketing. KickStarters in the past have included the popular Pebble smartwatch, and the Oculus Rift, among many, many others.  

Kickstarter projects are fantastic for both promotion and fundraising, and are a great option for inventors who are still in the planning and development phases of building a product.