Zero Budget Marketing Ideas you Should Embrace to Survive in Business
If you are in business, this article is for you. Even if you are not a business person, read it because one day you may venture into business. Most small businesses in Uganda and elsewhere cannot find the money for good robust marketing campaigns. But marketing is the backbone for business survival. Should you surrender just because you don’t have money to market your business? No. The solution is zero budget marketing.
I always appeal to people in business to embrace zero budget marketing ideas. Why? It’s because, as small businesses, they cannot find the money to carry out robust marketing campaigns. And I think the majority of us fall into this same category. Budget setbacks and low cash-flow lead us to less advertising and less promotional activity. Consequently, we make lower sales. What should we do then?
We don’t have to surrender. You can find many marketing ideas that are low in cost but rich in innovation, which you can use to promote your business. Luckily, such marketing ideas are more sustainable for small enterprises. You can undoubtedly achieve your business goals by using unconventional marketing ideas where you spend little or no money at all. These are the ideas I would like to share with you in this article.
What is Zero Budget Marketing?
Before we go further, it’s essential to understand what we mean by zero budget marketing. It’s the achievement of your business goals using marketing methods or ideas instead of money to survive in cash-strapped times. You market using very little money or no money at all.
With zero budget marketing methods, it’s essential to understand that if you want to advertise for free (or for minimal cost), you will have to spend some time and put effort into the process. In one way or another, it is going to cost you something—either cash or time and effort. If you have no money to pay someone else, that leaves us paying the price with time and effort.
Which zero budget marketing ideas can you try in your business?
Zero budget marketing has been my experience in my entire business career. After realising that it was hard to remain in business without proper marketing, I researched for free marketing ideas. Not all the ideas in this article will work for you. But perhaps a few of them will be helpful, and that’s what you should try at any one time in your business. Just pick one or two and focus on them to find out if they are to produce good results. If they do, keep using them. If they don’t, then change how you are doing them or try something else.
You need to know that what works for our business may not work for yours because we are in different situations. Secondly, we don’t have the same skills, knowledge and ability. So it’s vital to pick an idea that is within your capability and expertise. But sometimes, if you don’t have the skill and knowledge, put some effort to get it so that the idea works for you. That’s what I have always done. Never say you cannot, or it’s impossible. It’s possible to learn something useful for your progress.
The following is a list of the zero budget marketing suggestions. Hopefully, one or two can work for you. We may not explain them fully now, but in our subsequent articles, we shall discuss one by one in detail.
#1 – A website does great
In modern times, if you don’t have a presence online for your business, you will find it hard to compete favourably. Having a website does not require a lot of money. It merely requires you to take some time to learn a few things. There are platforms like “WordPress” which you can use to set up a simple website. Just put up a beautiful looking page that has all the necessary information the customer might need, such as business hours, address, phone numbers, email address, types of products and services you offer.
As a small business, building a functional e-commerce website can be costly and time-consuming. But if you have the resources, do it. However, a basic page with your company information is relatively easy and inexpensive to set up because the cost is low. Secondly, it will function as an online brochure for your business. We have a comprehensive guide we wrote on how to become a blogger, which can teach you to create a website by yourself.
#2 – Drive with your business
If you have a vehicle, think to advertise your business by identifying it with your company name and product or service. It’s a straightforward and inexpensive way. However, you should remember to keep it clean and in good condition because the condition of the vehicle speaks for your company. There is nothing worse than advertising your business name on a dirty car or one that’s in disrepair.
#3 – Use word of mouth
Word of mouth marketing is free. You only need to spend time and energy to use this effective zero budget marketing method. Many times, word of mouth marketers also use door-to-door marketing. If you opt to do it that way, it’s necessary to learn how best you can benefit from it. For additional information, please read the article we posted on door-to-door marketing.
#4 – Embrace social media
Facebook and many other social media networks are a great way to get your word out to many people. It has become a modern zero budget marketing method. You can easily set up a business page for your company on Facebook for free. For people with some money, there are apps they can add to their Facebook business page to sell directly to customers.
With or without an app, ask your friends and customers to “Like” your Facebook page and share it with their friends. It’s all free, and if you work it right, you can get the word out to hundreds of people in minutes.
#5 – Market with door hangers
Door hanger marketing is a very effective marketing method. However, it’s not a free advertising method because you have to spend some money on printing the hangers. But if you are lucky and you know graphic designing, you can personally do it on your computer and print them out on a colour printer.
Have a bunch of door hangers printed up with your company name, contact information and a list of all the services or products you offer. After hours, go around to all the offices or commercial buildings in your area and hang one on each door. We’ve used this method a couple of times, and it has always brought in business.
#6 – Send emails
Although people receive hundreds of emails per day, statistics show that nowadays this is one of the most effective forms of advertising—and it’s virtually free. Collect the email addresses of your customers and weekly or monthly send out an email with your specials, discount coupons, etc., included. It’s essential to remind customers of many things. Caution! Please, don’t overdo it!
#7 – Try barter trade advertising
Some potential customers might be interested in your products or services. For instance, radio stations. You can supply them with the products or services for an event they are sponsoring, and in return, they give you several custom radio spots for free.
#8 – Use banner flags
These are vertical banners you can stick in the ground in front of your shop to promote your business street-side. They are not so costly, but they are a great way of promoting your business. You can have them in other places like supermarkets if you establish a partnership or a good working business relationship with them.
#9 – Online selling
Looking for a new market with several million people? Why not try Amazon.com, etsy.com or alibaba.com. You can sell your products for only a small percentage of the price of the product. It takes some time setting up the products, but once you do a few, the process will go quickly. You do not have to be a big company to do this, and if the product doesn’t sell, it costs you nothing.
#10 – Wear your business with a hat
If, for example, you are into wearing hats, get a hat made. Put your company name, contact information and maybe the product you offer on your hat. Like uniforms and badges, a hat can be a great way to get your name in front of potential customers.
#11 – Use wearable marketing
Just like hat marketing mentioned above, if you and your employees dress alike in matching uniforms featuring your company logo, it does not only promote your business but does so in a professional manner. Perception and image are important in any business. Uniforms can be as simple as a shirt.
#12 – Use promotional products
Giving promotional products to potential customers is an effective zero budget marketing idea. Some people will do business with you after receiving a promotional product. Half of the people who receive your promotional product will keep it for a long time. The onus is on you to spend some money to give something people will use. Our engraved key holders are a great promotional product.
#13 – Label every product you produce
Make it a must to send every product you produce with a label bearing the company name and contact. It does not harm the clients because labels sit behind or bottom of the product. These small labels bring in business over time and are a very effective zero budget marketing strategy.
#14 – Try front window advertising
If you have a front window at your shop, take full advantage of it. It’s a great way of getting your word out to the people that pass by.
#15 – Establish niche markets
Getting business with a big company is very good. However, the challenge is that once these big companies connect with someone else, it’s so difficult to persuade them to become your business partners, unless they get unhappy with the service they are receiving.
Luckily, there are thousands of small companies that need someone to offer a service. Because they are small and usually not so much targeted by marketers, not everyone gets to knock at their door. When you put enough of these small companies together, it can mean a bigger payoff than that of one of the major companies. Additionally, if you lose one to the competition, it won’t devastate your business.
When you build your growth around only one or two major clients, and one or both of them close, downsize or switch to another supplier, you may be out of business just like them.
This scenario has happened to many businesses in Uganda that depend mostly on big companies or government because they know someone influential that make them win tenders. I know a significant number of companies in this category. But once the influential person leaves the company or government job, the business collapses. It’s therefore not prudent to rely on one big company.
Building your business on many small companies is much better because you don’t feel it so much if one stops doing business with you. You continue to survive because you already have many others.
There are many other zero budget marketing ideas you can use to promote your business. The ones listed above are just to set you going. You don’t need to do all of them once. Just pick one or two and put some serious effort into them. If they work for you, then pursue them further. But if they don’t, either improve on the way you use them or drop them and move to another.
It’s essential for every marketing strategy you always use to make sure you budget for it. Secondly, develop a marketing plan for how you are going to spend your money and how you are going to go about your marketing. That’s when you will effectively promote your business with any zero budget marketing technique you choose to use.
Hello! My name is Charles Kiyimba, a creative engraver, a professional teacher, a passionate blogger, a confident graphic/web designer and the founder of Goleza Designers Ltd, an engraving business that turns images into real products. Through my hands-on experience, I share with you free helpful information on our products and services, business, marketing and personal development. Always dive in for more!