How to Do Great Marketing with (Almost) Zero Money


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Can you really market a business without a lot of money?

(We wrote this special post for March Marketing Madness. But we also share it with our readers here.)

Many small companies and startups are afflicted with a serious problem – they have little spare cash. But they are looking to sell their product and services. With limited funds, they cannot do outbound marketing – buy ads on radio, in newspapers or on TV. They cannot buy booths at trade shows. These approaches have been primary means of attracting business sales leads in the past.

Without deep pockets can they really market their businesses and get new sales opportunities? Have times really changed that much? If so, how can they marry those two – a lack of funds and the need to win new business?

The recession impacted businesses hard. But we can also look at today in a ‘glass is half full’ mind-set. In many ways, you’re lucky today. Technology and the advent of high speed connection and social networks means the world has changed dramatically. Brian Halligan, President of the inbound marketing software company, HubSpot (one of the fastest growing companies in the USA) says “It used to be that businesses competed on the width of their wallets. Today, they compete on the width of their brains.”

If we take Brian at his word, that means if you are smart, you can compete with the big boys – even if you lack the millions of dollars some companies spend on marketing. Let’s look at how this is done.

Here are six action items you can do today – for little money:

  1. Know your prospective customers – deeply (Cost: Near zero)
    You want to know everything. What do they care about? Where do they turn for information? What kinds of events trigger a decision? Whom do they trust? Where do they look for answers – friends, social networks, Google, Trade Associations? Spend some time doing the research. Pick up the phone and call a few. Ask questions on LinkedIn. Create a survey (SurveyMonkey) and send it out. The better you know prospective customers, the more effective your marketing, so take your time and do it well. Document your customer map.
  2. Create great content. (Cost: not more than $200)
    Now that you really know what makes buyers tick. one of the best ways to demonstrate knowledge is to start writing a blog. Sign up for a blogging platform like WordPress, Blogger or Typepad. Then write and publish articles. Add images from sources like Flickr and iStockPhoto. (Look for Creative Commons licensing by doing an advanced search.)
  3. Distribute your content on social networks (Cost: Zero)
    Make it really easy for prospective customers to find by posting to social networks like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook as well as Digg, Delicious, StumbleUpon, SlideShare (presentations), YouTube (video). Also, when you post your content, add your search marketing keywords so that search engines can index it.
  4. Create a simple to understand website (Cost: A few hundred dollars)
    You need a good home to post your content. Make sure it is simple and easy to navigate. Add registration forms for them to sign up and download your content. I suggest you give away some with no registration – especially simple tools and documents, while putting more in-depth content behind a gate. (Don’t ask for too much either. Name and email is a good start. People hate long and complex forms.)
  5. Re-imagine your content (Cost: Not more than a couple of hundred dollars)
    This is where the power comes in. Take your existing content and turn it into something different. Maybe a text interview of a thought leader can become a YouTube video. In our case, we turned a popular blog article, 7 Keys to Successful Lead Nurturing into a very slick looking Cheat Sheet. Cost for the graphics work – $100. You can also take an ebook for instance, and create a PowerPoint presentation. Upload it to Slideshare, and add a YouTube video or audio to your presentation. Again, use your keywords when you upload it.
  6. Give to Get (Cost: Zero)
    Become active online. Follow interesting industry people on Twitter. Check out fan pages on Facebook. Read their blogs. Once you’ve become really familiar with them, start posting thoughtful and careful comments. Do a lot of commenting on industry blogs. People really read those.

Once you’ve done those six things, keep it up. It is a marathon – not a sprint. Keep publishing, listening, posting. Over time, you will get more and more traction. Over many months, your traction will grow and grow. You will find more and more people interested in your services.

At Find New Customers, we embraced this approach. In the last few weeks, we’ve had prospective customers sign up and download content and subscribe to our blog. We were invited to co-host a big marketing summit. We’ve been featured in two books, including Social Marketing to the Business Customer. We were featured in a white paper on B2B blogging. We were a guest on HubspotTV recently. And we’re a young and small business with very shallow pockets.

It CAN be done. You can do it.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jeff Ogden
Jeff Ogden ( is President of the Tampa based Find New Customers demand generation agency. .


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