My Paid Ads Strategy For Startups On A Budget

Being strategic with your limited budget is the key towards success.

Launching a startup is exhilarating, but marketing with limited resources can feel like climbing Mount Everest in flip-flops. Fear not, I come to help. Truth be told, I’ve never had unlimited budgets to work with. Who has?! So I always had to be very strategic with my goals and make the most out of the tools platforms gave me. Also, I tried many ad platforms until I reached my go-to pack for attacking limited budgets and achieving success with little resources. 

By the end of this article you’ll have a clear roadmap for leveraging paid social media advertising to propel your startup towards success, even with a budget smaller than your dreams.

Define Your Objective And Marketing Goal

Defining your objective and marketing goal might come as something too straightforward. It’s almost stupid, but still, it’s not. Believe me when I say I’ve seen stakeholders getting confused about what the end goal of a campaign is. Yes, sometimes it’s a little blurry; you forget that the end goal of your campaign is someone converting – doing a specific action, not just brand awareness. But you must establish that at the starting point to set up your paid campaigns correctly. 

Your marketing goal is the one thing you always want out of your marketing efforts, i.e., leads, conversions, sales, etc. It really depends on the business model and strategy. 

Defining your objective goes hand in hand with your marketing goal, but measured! So you know where you started and where you want to arrive. How else will you measure your impact or progress if you don’t put that in objective numbers?

Find The Right Channel To Get To Your Audience

If I had a euro for every time someone told me to open up a TikTok account in my corporate experience, I’d probably be somewhere else. Somewhere sunny, exotic and totally Instagram worthy even for my social incognito lifestyle.

And I could have opened that TikTok account and run ads on it, couldn’t I? But would it have been the proper use of my time and limited resources that I had to make magic with? I can definitely say no. And most importantly, were the people I was trying to reach there? Some of them, probably. But not most of them. How do I know this? Let me give you some insight into deciding if whatever platform is the right one for you.


  • 25-54, but mostly older people being active most of the time


  • 18-35, mostly females
  • Multiple ad formats that can become very creative and stop the ad blindness
  • Ad costs can be very pricey in specific seasons depending on industry


  • 18-24 with 25-34 rapidly increasing
  • Only videos
  • Great to pair with user generated paid content


  • 25-34 with Gen Z coming up in second at 21% and 34-54 in third at 15%
  • White collars and professionals
  • Great for B2B
  • Great for employer branding or recruiting campaigns

Google Ads:

  • 25-44
  • Can be set to appear on Youtube as well
  • Targeting is not as granular as on other platforms, especially Meta
  • Ad costs can be very pricey in specific seasons depending on industry


  • 18-34, mostly females
  • Great for beauty or fashion industries

Get Inspired

Also known as peeking into your competition. I am a big believer in keeping an eye on the competition for various reasons. At the same time, I’ve heard many people saying, “I don’t care what my competition does; I just want to mind my business and do what I do best.” Maybe it’s just me and my never-ending unhealthy and untreated need for comparison, but I check what my competition does regularly. How else will I stay at the top of my game and not be left behind? I learn from my competition, I get inspired from them, and I wouldn’t be the professional that I am today without my competition. So kudos to you, little rivals! I owe you so much.

If you’re also looking to get inspired, bookmark these links and visit them religiously. I delivered my best campaigns, getting inspired from these libraries.

Meta Ad Library
TikTok Ads Library
LinkedIn’s Ad Library – brand new, just launched a few months ago
Google Ads Library
Apple Search Ads – really great if you work with an app startup

Get inspired by your competition and deliver your best work to date!

Test, Test, Test

If you’ve been reading my articles, you know I preach and live by testing. It could be that I was slapped in the face early in my ads, creating days with an A/B test result I did not expect and swore to myself to always test. But testing really works and gives results if you have the patience. 

Unpopular opinion, maybe – A/B tests are for fancy accounts with big budgets. And you can test what works through different campaigns, ad sets or groups, or ad creatives. It depends on your assumptions and testing strategy, but it can be done.

Learn, Optimize and Adapt

Now that you’ve tested, measured, and compared to your marketing objectives and goal, what did you learn? How can you scale for even better results? Did you make use of all the tools these platforms put to use? Remember, they want you to succeed and go back to spending even more money, haha. 

Now it’s easy – REPEAT.

And if you’re ever overwhelmed by the never-ending changes of algorithms, organic or paid, you know where to find me. We’re waiting for your DM on Instagram.

Your social fairy and mental health advocate, 

Madalina Muntean.

Madalina jocstudio marketing and branding agency


Social Fairy
Eccentric digital marketer with an artsy heart. Forever dancing to a different tune, here to sprinkle your brand with a touch of fun and a pinch of quirk. Mental health advocate and a bit too obsessed with her pets. Takes her job very seriously, herself… not so much. Find her on LinkedIn.

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