November 12, 2020

The Virtual CMO Podcast

Many people want to become entrepreneurs and later realize that there's a lot they don't know about the business. With over 31.7 million startup businesses in the US alone and 582 million entrepreneurs around the world, it may seem that the odds are against success. It doesn't matter if you are new to the business or not; as long as you have the passion for working through the hurdles and have an open mindset to learn modern marketing strategies. Karla Singson has started many new businesses and offers strategies and advice for startup marketing on a budget.

In this episode, you will learn essential techniques you can use to expand and grow your startup business. The Five Echelon Group's Founder/CMO Eric Dickmann has an insightful conversation with PR specialist, multiple business owner, entrepreneur of the year, and Scalewind's country manager- Karla Singson about startup marketing on a budget and the game changers that allowed her many businesses worldwide to grow.

Karla Singson is Asia's Entrepreneur of the Year in 2018, award-winning writer, and owner of multiple businesses in the Philippines, Thailand, and the USA. At the age of 19, she acquired her degree in marketing from the Asian Institute of Management. After graduation, Karla got into writing ads for social media, newspapers, advertorials, radio ads, and even translations for soap operas. Karla Singson's tenacious mindset to not stick with a 9-5 job with dress codes and strict time constraints pushed her to build her business empire. Through the years, she established companies such as PREP PR, Events, and Promotions, Gifts Davao, Proximity Placements, and Stef Sparkles. To add to a long list of achievements and experience, Singson also consulted and led campaigns for multinational giants- BMW, Coca-Cola, P&G, and Qatar Airways. Karla's mission is to use her marketing and PR expertise to coach young entrepreneurs and help stay-at-home moms become millionaires. 

Starting Your Business Without Capital 

Singson shares with us three steps on how she was able startup her business without capital.

  1. Profit FIRST. Focus on making a profit from your very first sale.
  2. Look for niches that allow you to sell high margin products.
  3. Your business should be something that most people already want.

Karla mentions that there are people who are so attached to their big idea that they feel like failure when this idea of theirs doesn't make enough profit or live up to their expectations. Your vision may be a failure, but that idea is not your identity. You are not a failure! Karla Singson has been talking with numerous business owners for years, and she mentions that the struggle in startup marketing on a budget is hurting the clients' feelings or telling them the bad news that their "big idea" may not work. Especially during the pandemic, many people have shifted their business to complement their strengths and skills. Emotional attachment kills so many companies because owners can run a business into the ground out of their pride in their product or service. As a business person, It would be best to learn how to adjust despite the sudden pivots in the market. Karla emphasizes our need to work with a team that shares the same principle as yours, so you can all get to where you want to be. In business, remember not to get attached to one thing too much.

Top 5 Small Business Industries

There are many family-owned businesses in Asia that are passed from generation to generation. Karla mentions that there are times that the business is not being run anymore by passion but of the goal to retain the legacy of the family's name. Shockingly, these business owners have no knowledge or skills apart from the business they are tasked to operate. Singson elaborates that these hardworking and smart business owners could try to break the limits by seeking new business opportunities outside of their comfort zones, and pivot. It may take a big risk to shift your attention from a familiar venture to something new, but that might be the best opportunity for success. We believe that a business should be driven with its owners and employee's passion and directed to solve the customer's needs.

4 Most Common Mistakes Among Millennial Entrepreneurs

In the pockets of dissatisfaction, you can find a successful business opportunity. Startup marketing on a budget and selling something is about solving for a particular problem. You have to get a specific type of person to the particular outcome that person desires. If you feel you can deliver a specific outcome to a particular set of people by being a vehicle or channel to connect them to their needs, don't hesitate to open up shop.

  1. Most millennial entrepreneurs have a "BIG IDEA"- 33% of millennials are eager to start a business in the first five years after graduation. If they don't have a big idea, it would be difficult for them to start a business Most entrepreneurs who startup marketing on a budget get obsessed with either their vision of having to find a big idea to create a successful business.
  2. A lot of startup entrepreneurs focus on the opening and launching rather than selling- If you are launching your business, you should think about how your product or service will sell. Once you have a proven way to run your business smoothly, then that's the time when you can focus on the smallest details of opening your business.
  3. Most millennials think that social media marketing is everything- Meet where your clients are and reach out to them. Marketing is any form of activity that leads to customer satisfaction. From the moment you excite them on (TV, poster, shelf, billboard) to after-sales, everything is about marketing and branding.
  4. Do not start a business if you haven't built a reliable network of business connections- Before you start a business, form a stable support network.
Age Range of People who startup business on a budget

Two Kinds of Advertising 

  • Below the Line (BTL) Marketing is similar to direct marketing. It focuses on reaching a smaller but more targeted audience via PR, search engine and social media marketing, paid search, content marketing, and events. This kind of advertising builds stronger relationships and brand trust because business owners have direct contact with customers. Since they are specifically targeted to a particular group, BTL's conversions and effectiveness are considered easy to test and remodel. According to research, most business owners prefer Below the Line Marketing because it's cheaper, measurable, more targeted, and conversion-driven.
  • Above the Line (ATL) Marketing involves mass media methods for targeting more extensive groups of customers who use television, radio, print ads, and outside advertising such as billboards and signage. This advertising strategy is tailored to reach a mass audience and is a great way to build brand awareness for both your potential and target market. Though ATL costs are higher than BTL, this technique may not drive customer responses because of its general approach.

Your Ideal Business Social Network

  1. Mentor/ Business Coach is someone who has been doing business longer than you. He/She has an undebatable and unshakable streak of success with regards to building businesses. Your mentor will be the best person to teach you about the most challenging thing in business- cash flow management.
  2. Corporate Lawyer is someone who you need to reach in case you have questions about business laws, legalities, contracts, and obligations.
  3. PR Professional  is the person  who can spin stories when the public is against you. They can help you deliver the right messages for your branding and help think of fresh ideas to engage and reach out to your market.
  4. Certified Public Accountant (CPA) helps you balance your books and deal with legalities about running your businesses and licenses.
  5. High-Reach Influencer is the person to go to if you have something rush that you need to announce or if you have something that you want to go viral or reach out to a bigger audience. They can do promotions for you full time, part, time, or even for retainer.

Karla singson

So if something fails, it's not because you're a failure. It's because the idea is a failure.  Failure is an event. It's not your identity.”

The Transition to Remote Work

This pandemic has hurt many businesses. For young companies trying to manage startup marketing on a budget, it was even more impactful. To adapt, many businesses have begun to adjust to the new trend of working at home and utilizing assistance from VA Specialists and online technical support since they cannot operate everything alone. These online professionals and freelance specialists ensure that the company is functioning well, regardless of the crisis affecting mobility and productivity.

Karla and her partner were frightened of how the businesses lost many clients and laid off competent workers. Despite what was happening around, the crisis allowed her and the company to build a global workforce online. Karla realized that having people work for her business from different regions worldwide allowed more room for diversity and brainstorming. The online brigade of workers is as reliable, competent, and dedicated to their specialties as the employees they had in the past.

Trends in Remote Work Growth

Singson may be operating many businesses, but she still manages to reach out to her clients on time because she has hired people to monitor her ventures 24 hours a day, across times zones. Karla pushes business owners to take advantage of the inexpensive and high-quality service that the global workforce has to offer to businesses. You don't have to stress yourself out and do everything alone.

Digital Insider Blog enumerates the 5 Main Benefits of Remote Working to Digital Marketers:

  1. Work where you want
  2. Work at your pace
  3. Healthy work-life balance
  4. Use time zones to your advantage
  5. Save money
Advantage of Remote Workers

Relevance of Market Research for Startup Marketing on a Budget

The importance of market research to develop and expand startup marketing on a budget should never be underestimated. Karla finds it sad that many business owners overlook the relevance of having up-to-date statistics to apply to their future marketing strategies. If you are a startup business that wants to beat your competitors, you should consider checking customer reviews, ratings, and comments on Quora, Reddit, Amazon, Facebook, and other web platforms.

Check out what customers expect from a product or service and develop on them. Market research may not look and sound sexy. Still, many successful businesses have focused their efforts to study their consumers' behaviors- the reason they can appeal to the crowd easily when they launch new products or services. Karla also suggests that your team can go underground and do some competitor research on online groups to know how you will be able to have an edge against them in terms of pricing, packaging, quality, and other factors.

Personalization is the Future

Having systematic and unbiased research will also help you and your partners detach from your emotions and decide unbiasedly on the basic strategies to better market the business' products and services.

Top reasons why you should do market research by EnvatoTuts+:

  • Easily spot business opportunities
  • Lower business risks
  • Create relevant promotional materials
  • Know where to advertise
  • Outsell competitors
  • Set better goals for your business
  • Decision-making becomes simple

Biggest Game-Changer that Allowed Businesses to Grow

Karla reveals the biggest game-changer  "And that is, just really talking to your clients more." Karla invests time in communicating with her clients to adjust her business strategy. As much as possible, businesses should direct their startup marketing on a budget to creating offers that will sell themselves. In communicating with their target market, companies should learn that the more they talk to their customers, the better they can find out what the market wants. It can help them create concepts for their branding. But learning should be a two-way street. Business owners should not only gather feedback from the customers, but customers should also be educated on how your business works. Amid this pandemic, people want to be heard, and that is what companies should focus on.

The Future of Ecommerce after Covid 19

Engaging with the customer's requests is a great way for them to feel valued because they are being heard. The customers are laying out the roadmap for where your product needs to go to increase their levels of satisfaction. This effort becomes market research! It doesn't have to cost so much; sometimes, you have to be smart in dedicating your time to the people who matter in your business. This technique is not only for new companies trying to do startup marketing on a budget., even as you grow larger, you need to keep those communication lines open and be responsive to all your customers.

Live Stream Replay


  • Emotional attachment kills so many companies because owners can run a business into the ground because of their pride in their product or service.
  • If you feel you can deliver a specific outcome to a particular set of people by being a vehicle or channel to connect them to their needs, don't hesitate to open up shop.
  • Having people work for your business from different regions worldwide allow more room for diversity and brainstorming.
  • In communicating with their potential and target market, companies realized that the more they talk to their customers, they could also find out what else they wanted.
  • Money isn't everything! Startup marketing on a budget can be done if you learn to focus on the market research and communicating with your customers.

Episode and Guest Links

Eric Dickmann - Founder/CMO of the Five Echelon Group, can be found online on Twitter or his personal website.

Karla Singson  - Award-winning writer, decorated public speaker, and business leader can be found online on LinkedIn.

  • For as low as $49 for 24 hours, with a money-back guarantee, work with real estate VAs and WordPress specialists on Real Estate Assistant.
  • Subscribe to Karla's YouTube Channel to understand enterprise growth and marketing productivity strategies and tactics better.
  • Get to know Karla Singson even more and gain exclusive access to her mentorship programs here!

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