Marketing on the Cheap
There are guerrilla-marketing books all over the shelves of book stores, on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and a host of other locations, but they all have one thing in common. They aren’t in your possession. Maybe your budget is so small you can’t afford to purchase them; maybe you don’t know where to start when putting a marketing plan together; maybe, maybe, maybe.
One thing is for certain, there is no shortage of information out there, but it may be eluding you for some reason. This article is for those with little or no budgets, have a marketing need but don’t know where to start, and are looking for ideas that really work.
A while back I wrote an article that was published here entitled, Thinking Through the Seven Must Do’s for Marketing Planning. In it I wrote about the lucky seven steps to put a plan together, and it can be used by large and small business ventures alike. For those without money, these ideas can help improve your marketing efforts without spending a penny. There are literally hundreds of ideas that cost little or nothing, other than time. They will bear some fruit, but if you work them wisely, you can influence your business growth, eventually being able to dedicate funds toward that end.
Presentations – Why not offer to present at local Chambers of Commerce, Kiwanis, Rotary, your Church or other gatherings of potential customers.
Networking – There are numerous organizations on Linked in that provide an opportunity to attend networking events after work hours, on weekends or during early morning breakfast meetings. You have to eat anyway, so why not use your meal time to advance your business?
Article Writing – This will take some time to gain exposure, but article writing and posting on the internet will eventually gain an audience. WordPress offers free blog space, along with Google, Yahoo and several other locations on the internet. You can even write and post articles on Amazon Kindle at no charge and charge a subscription fee if you want.
Offer Free Training Courses – Your background may be fascinating to others, so why not create a training seminar for others to learn something. You’d be surprised at the results, but offering a free service will grow your database of contacts, so when it comes time to pitch your business product or service, you are not pitching to a cold market; to them you are already a known commodity.
Build a Referral Network – There is no better way to grow a business than through your existing customer base. With a structured referral methodology, your customers will become raving fans of yours, happily referring their friends and associates to you. If you let them know that they are a vital part of your business, and that you expect to recommend them at the conclusion of your transaction, they will be open to doing so. Following up on your existing customer base on a regular basis is key to developing that network.
Head up a Round Table Group – Why not form a luncheon or breakfast group of other business owners? Doing so will not only elevate your professionalism (as long as you handle these appropriately), you will have an instant audience to become familiar with. Don’t misunderstand, this is not an opportunity to push your product or service, it merely provides a means to grow your contact base, open doors that would otherwise be closed to you, and possibly learn from and help others refine their own businesses. What you send out into the universe will ultimately return to you.
YouTube Video – This is another free platform for you to exploit, without spending any money. You can utilize this medium in many different ways, from public relations, new product introduction, amusing commercials touting your business; whatever you can imagine. The sky’s the limit when it comes to this platform, as long as it is not offensive.
Cross Marketing – Working with another business to market your product can be an effective means to grow your market awareness, develop new alliances and reach customers you may not reach otherwise. Ever notice one company with an offer on another product’s packaging? An example might be a regional bread company with an ad for a new line of peanut butter. There might be a discount coupon attached to the loaf of bread to be redeemed at the point of purchase. The peanut butter may have aligned with the bread company by offering a percentage of every product they sell as a result of the bread sale. It may take a clever approach but it happens all the time.
Offer White Papers and Information – If you are fortunate enough to have even the most basic of web sites, offering a free report or white paper on some aspect of your industry can grow your database of potential customers. A simple landing page with a registry will capture the name and email, phone or whatever in exchange for access to a free piece of information. Regardless of the time it takes to write a good report, growing your influence, your contact list and professionalism is great marketing without cost.
There are many other ways to perform free or low cost marketing, but it starts with some objectives. By following some steps laid out in my article The Lucky Seven Must Do’s, you can grow your business one brick at a time for very little money.