Marketing With No Budget

Marketing for entrepreneurs is always a challenge, especially with no budget for someone else to do it. Here’s a summary of my comments at a recent panel discussion on the topic:

  1. Regularly ask satisfied customers for repeat business – what other problems can you help them deal with?
  2. Ask them for referrals – to other departments or locations within their organization or to professional colleagues. Always thank them for their effort or results and find appropriate ways to do something tangible.
  3. Network with peers and colleagues, asking for suggestions of people or organizations that meet the specific description of your target market. Ask what no-budget methods have worked for them and, obviously, share yours.
  4. Write articles about your areas of content expertise for publications your target market is likely to read. Send prospects and existing customers electronic copies of anything published as a low key differentiating statement. Don’t try to sell your specific product or service – just subtly promote you as a valued expert.
  5. Also post replies to questions that showcase your expertise from LinkedIn groups your prospects might belong to and see.
  6. Deliver presentations – live or webinar – sharing your content expertise for organizations your target market likely belongs to or events they might consider attending. Similarly, don’t try to sell your specific product or service – just subtly promote you.
  7. Volunteer as a mentor, resource, pitch coach or advisor for non-profit incubator or start-up organizations where your prospects might also volunteer or at least see your name and topic area mentioned.
  8. Or, donate your expertise in ways that provide positive mentions, such as redesigning a non-profit’s website in exchange for a credit line.
  9. Create and enhance reciprocal relationships with other entrepreneurs or businesses that serve a similar target market. You promote them to your network and visa versa.
  10. And try turning competitors into allies by collaborating on projects too large for either of you to handle alone.
  11. Whenever you see a positive mention in the business media about your prospects, send them a brief congrats note. Include a hard copy of the item where possible.

So, marketing a small business with little or no budget and communicating consistent, positive and engaging messages in your target market is certainly a challenge, but one that can be overcome with time, effort and lots of creativity. Out-think your competitors instead of trying to out-spend them.