Grow Your Business without a Marketing Budget

December 03, 2010

Articles on small marketing budgets often make the following point: don't slow down marketing activities or cut its budget when things slow down. To do this means falling behind your competitors who keep pumping the marketing machine knowing it takes time to bring on new clients. If you take a break from marketing, that's lost time.

When business or the economy gets better, it'll most likely be too late for your business as you'll be in catch up mode while competitors grow their businesses.

Or you have no or zero marketing budget. The first thing to do before diving into any marketing is to know where you can find your target market. You don't want to dive into social networking if they're not there to greet you.

Most of these activities don't cost much more than your time.

Join professional and industry organizations. Yes, membership costs money, but not always a bundle. Maybe you can negotiate a deal or an exchange. Organizations open doors to leads and sharing ideas. Check out your local Chamber of Commerce, too.

Attend industry events and meetings. You'll find many industry conferences and expos including the oil and gas industry. What about travel costs? It may take time (and if you don't live in some out of the way location), a conference will eventually come close to you. Do a search for local and state organizations. Also, speakers usually get in free. Plus, being a speaker puts your company out there without paying for a booth or ad.

Use social media. Don't go running to your existing social networking account or start one yet. Like any other marketing activity, you need a plan and that includes social media. Social media gives you a forum for customer service and helping others by listening and addressing people's issues.

Social media isn't the place to talk about your products and frequently link to your own content and website. Instead, it's better for building relationships, providing customer service and assisting others. Furthermore, you can use social media to promote events and share information that came out of the events.

Explore blogs. Even though blogs fall under <a href="">social media</a>, we wanted to mention them separately because they can be a great resource people overlook when they get wrapped up on the Facebooks, LinkedIns and Twitters. The most important thing you can do before contacting the people behind a blog -- study the website and blog.

You might notice things such as interviews, reviews, special series and other things. Besides, contacting a blogger on something unrelated only aggravates them and does your brand no good. Focus on how you can help the blogger and the audience not for a sales pitch. You might consider asking if you can be a guest blogger (again -- providing valuable information not a sales pitch).

Partner with another business. Let's say your company constructs oil or gas rigs. Why not team up with a company that sells oil and gas parts? Combine both of your audiences and you can help each other reach new prospects.

No matter which of these you do, make your activities about building relationships and helping others. The hard sales pitch doesn't work well today.

What low cost or free marketing activities have worked for you?