10 Marketing Ideas for Little or No financial outlay

Don’t have any money for marketing? By being a little bit creative in your approach, single minded in your message, and tapping into existing local networks you CAN make an impact regardless of your budget.

Here are our top 10 (yep, TEN) marketing ideas for little or no financial outlay:

  • Partner with complementary businessfor referrals. You may be starting up a new business but you’ll be surrounded by well -established complementary businesses that may be happy to join forces in some way. From mutual referrals to discounts, there are a myriad of ways it could work. Think party planner and Cake decorator; Personal Trainer and Pilates or Physio; gift shop and artist; or a videographer filming a kindy concert in exchange for a spot in the newsletter. By developing a relationship or association with an established business you can build your credentials in the marketplace, leverage their existing customer base and generate better leads.
  • Support local organisationswith a strong base of members, clients or players. This could be in the form of donating vouchers, products or hampers to fundraisers at local schools, sporting clubs or churches (e.g. silent auctions, awards nights, fetes, Christmas raffles). Donations are often acknowledged at fundraising events and often in newsletters and social media as well. You can dial it up further by offering to speak, help organise or hand out awards on the night… organisers are often looking for additional support and it’s a great way to build your network and create goodwill for your business in the community.
  • Pass on trade incentives and seasonal discountswhen you can. A proven way to encourage new people to try your product or service is through a discount or introductory offer. If you can’t afford to offer a discount, you might be surprised how much your clients appreciate a complimentary drink or a colouring-in table to keep their kids happy while they browse. Consider offering a sample, provide tastings or a sneak peak of new products – it’s about giving people a small taste of what you offer so they’ll buy your product/service and then recommend it to friends.
  • Introduce a Loyalty Program.It could be a loyalty card, gift with purchase or offering the third purchase free. Keep it simple and customer-oriented and everyone will win. Loyalty programs have been simplified by technology – no need for a wallet full of loyalty cards when a simple phone number and surname should suffice, just make sure you stay client-focused and keep your offer simple.
  • Run a competition& amplify it on social media, in store & even via flyers. It will help to create awareness of your offering and will make customers feel more involved & invested in your business or brand, regardless of the number of entries. From name our new product to nominate our next flavour, fragrance or theme or vote for your favourite, competitions can be surprisingly engaging amongst your target market. The prize or incentive doesn’t have to be costly, it just has to be appealing or aspirational to your clients.
  • Make your clients or customers feel special.Hosting a friends and family or VIP night, celebrating your launch, business milestone or offering an exclusive range or service can be invaluable. You don’t have to spend a fortune, just go the extra mile… opening your store early, providing free delivery, meeting clients in their home after hours, inviting clients to Christmas Drinks will all go a long way to building customer relationships. Just make sure you ask them to bring a friend!
  • Submit your product or nominate your business for awards.Whether its local small business awards, industry awards, youth or business people awards, the nomination will provide new content for any social media platforms, give you another way to talk to clients “vote for us!” and help to raise your profile amongst other entrants, judges and businesses within the community or your industry.
  • Host an event– invite a local author or relevant ‘expert’ to visit or speak, or you could volunteer to speak yourself at uni/tafe/high school/interest group for free, or to present at a local festival or event. eg: a dentist may visit local schools to talk about dental hygiene, a kids party entertainer may perform at a preschool Christmas party for free, a social media expert may present a talk at TAFE or a Library for small businesses. Contacting an industry guru or putting yourself forward may seem daunting at first but it’s a fantastic (and free!) way to build contacts, connect with potential clients and garner publicity via local news, social media and word of mouth.
  • Encourage word of mouth beyond social media:“a satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all” Michael Le Boeuf. Reward recommendations & reviews and give people something to talk about eg: a florist might give free flowers to local high traffic office (real estate agent, Thai take away etc).
  • Have you ever joined a local club or association and received a list of local businesses that provide members with discounts? Providing an ongoing exclusive offer or discount for members of the local club (RSL, yacht club or sporting club), or providing products for local loyalty programs or as prizes, is a great way to drive awareness of your business or brand and generate sales.

And most important of all? Be brave.  Pick up the phone. Organise a coffee or champagne catch up with another business person, community leader or influencer. The worst someone can do is say “no” and knockbacks will only make you stronger! As entrepreneur Reese Witherspoon said recently: “What would happen if we were all brave enough to be a little bit more ambitious? I think the world would change.”

Author: Sarah Ford
BlueFish Director & Marketing Specialist, Sarah Ford, has over 23 years' experience in brand management – 10 of those at Marketing Manager and Director levels and a further eight years in Retail Management. Passionate about marketing, Sarah understands the complexities of the consumer landscape and is known for her ability to create practical, cost-effective plans, which stand-out with consumers and meet business objectives. Sarah established BlueFish Marketing in 2009 and continues to provide marketing support on a campaign or project basis. Recent clients include JBS Foods, FreeTV Australia, Unilever, Paradigm Foods, MFA, Connecting Finance, Jurlique Int, Moving Mannequins, SCAD Research Inc, Little Chomps, Mummymetime and many more.
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