There is nothing as powerful as the word “FREE” in the world of marketing and sales. As business people, we typically think that to incentivize potential customers we need to give away products at deep discounts or for free. But what if we could turn that paradigm on its head and instead of giving away products and services for free, we could get marketing programs that cost nothing…or at least next to nothing?

In addition to working with many Fortune 500 conglomerates, over the past few years my consulting practice has also taken me to quite a few small to medium sized companies, family businesses and start-ups.

One of the more recent popular questions I get asked often is as follows…”We don’t really have lots of money. Within the context of a marketing plan, what types of programs can we execute that can have a major positive impact on our business, but can be executed for little or no money?

Naturally, there is no single size fits all, and when I write a “Low Cost Marketing Plan”, it will typically include 6 or 7 core marketing strategies and 25 or 30 low cost program ideas, but in this newsletter, I’ll share 5 powerful marketing program ideas that anyone can execute at little or no cost.

Let me add that even a “Low Cost Digital/Marketing Plan” can have tremendous positive impact on revenue and profit growth for a company. For example, we recently did work for young food company who was doing about $15 million per year in annual revenue. The “Low Cost Marketing Plan” we wrote helped grow that company’s business by over +400% to over $60 million in under two years! Shortly thereafter, the company was able to sell themselves for over $200 million dollars!

The lesson is that a smart and efficient low cost marketing plan – planned and executed properly – can often trump a higher costing traditional plan.

5 Marketing Program Ideas That Can be Executed on No Budget or a Low Budget!

And here they are….

Leverage Blogger Networks

Find bloggers who discuss and analyze your industry. Send them samples of your products and tell them all about your unique benefits. If you’re relevant, most will write about you for free or at very low cost. This will not only get free endorsements about your business to the public, but the mentions to their followers will likely increase your presence on search engines.

I worked with a company who found a very well-known celebrity who used their product regularly and who (for free) not only endorsed them on social media, but who came to some of their trade shows to support them. Needless to say, this generated millions of dollars in new business…at virtually no cost.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator

This is a relatively new service from Linked In and a real hidden gem, and especially powerful if you’re selling B2B.

Almost all of us have a profile on LinkedIn and we use it to link up and socialize with business colleagues and associates. But LinkedIn has added Sales Navigator as a major new lead generator and selling mechanism to its platform. For example, you can now very effectively micro target potential leads by geography, job title, seniority, closeness to your inner circle and more. If you’re a B2B looking to drive powerful new sales lead generation avenues for your business, you should certainly look into this platform. Call us if you need help…

Increase "Cross Selling"

This may be one of the most powerful but yet underutilized marketing ideas out there. If you’re already selling the customer the toothpaste, why not also tell them about the terrific toothbrushes you sell as well? Think Amazon here…Next to the item you’re searching, there is a prominent blurb that says “If you like this Item A, you’ll love this B and C also.”  

This approach can be applied not only to consumer products, but to B2B selling as well. So in any event, if you’re selling anything, why not cross sell other related products or services along with it? You can often double the revenue from an online sale in a wink. And the cost of this tactic is virtually zero!

Test Facebook "Boosted Posts"

You can leverage this very powerful new advertising medium to granularly go after your target customer.  

For example, let’s say you’re selling high end cat food products, your products are mainly sold in the Northeast, and industry research says millennials index highest on being willing to pay significantly more to pamper their cats. You can have Facebook target higher income millennial households who own cats in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts. You can provide educational and descriptive content and photos that highlight the benefits of your unique products and possibly a trial coupon as well.

While this is not a true “low cost” approach, it can be tested at very low cost. Why not test various A/B ad variations with different content and coupon values? Once you’ve identified the variation with the highest ROI, you can roll it out further if it makes sense.

Build Your E-Mail Database

Anyone who tells you “e-mail is dead” doesn’t know what they’re talking about. If you capture someone’s opt in e-mail address, you’ve now opened a “conduit” to inform, entertain, and incentivize potential new or existing customers and build a long term relationship with them. Over time, you can tell them about your new products and services, highlight tools and tips, and provide special discount offers as appropriate.  

The cost? A simple subscription to one of the many excellent e-mail platforms can be under $100 per month. And the benefit? I’ve been involved with companies who drive millions of dollars of annual revenue just from basic e-mail relationships. In fact, it is said that e-mail marketing has the highest ROI of any key marketing tool; often as high as 10:1. And I’ve seen 10:1 ROI’s in real life, with clients!

Take It to the Next Level

So there you have it…Why not try a couple of the low/no cost options I outline above? And if you need guidance in doing this, or you’d like to explore the development of a larger scale “Low Cost Digital/Marketing Plan”, feel free to reach out and we can talk.