How do you keep marketing momentum going with a marketing budget of zero? All marketing requires some time investment, so it is not truly free. However, there are several no financial cost tactics that can be effective and can be added to your marketing plan regardless of budget.
Post and share on social media
This one feels like a no brainer these days. However, organic social media (i.e. anything you post but don’t pay for) can be time consuming, so a plan and free integration tools can be extremely helpful. If there is a content plan and posting schedule, everything can be done in advance or as time allows. Some free tools to consider are Canva for graphics and Later for scheduling, but there are several other options available depending on specific needs.
In between original content, sharing (ideally with a comment or takeaway) of other vetted accounts’ posts can fill in an organic plan. It adds credible content and can potentially expand reach.
Consistently engage with followers. When someone shares a post to their story, like / comment. Tagged in a post or tweet? Share. Organic social media should be a circular activity.
Publish interesting content
In addition to sharing on social media, content can be used on other platforms such as a blog or YouTube channel. (Yes, YouTube can be called social media. It can be called a search engine too these days. But regardless of what it’s called, this applies.) There are three reasons why publishing interesting and relevant content is important.
- It can improve SEO, and drive traffic to a website
- It establishes an organization as an expert in a particular area and creates a trustworthy brand
- It becomes a library for future social media microcontent or case studies / examples for potential clients / customers
Speak at events or invite guests to a Facebook or Instagram Live talk
This can get a little sticky. Depending on the industry, the idea of speaking for free is unacceptable. Same goes in the reverse, sometimes a speaking opportunity is part of a larger sponsorship. However, there is a middle ground where speaking opportunities are mutually beneficial without any financial transactions. There are opportunities similar to content creation where a representative of the organization or business is showcasing themselves as an expert or someone willing to help others. In addition, most events have supporting marketing plans where speakers and their companies are featured and promoted.
Something that has become quite popular in the last year of virtual events is small businesses inviting guests to a fireside chat (i.e. 1:1 interview / conversation). These types of talks are effective because both the host and guest can expand their audience with the others’ followers. It is free (other than time) and also keeps a business top of feed and top of mind.
Collaborate or partner with other companies or organizations
In addition to hosting fireside chats, organizations can partner in other ways to reach a broader audience. One example is cross-product creation where one company utilizes another’s product in a unique creation. For instance, MacMart (a Philadelphia restaurant) sells mac and cheese and created a brisket mac and cheese special utilizing brisket from another Philadelphia restaurant, Huda. Another example is when companies with similar but not directly competing offerings partner to offer a more wholistic experience such as a gym partnering with nutrionists.
Other ways to collaborate is to exchange products or services or in-kind trades. These agreements should be documented and negotiated similar to a cash transaction, so there is no ambiguity on what is being exchanged. They can be straightforward such as a graphic designer trading design services with a copywriter for writing services. Or they can be more creative such as a graphic designer designing a gym’s website in exchange for a gym membership. Either way, the goal is to complete a marketing tactic, add to a portfolio of work, or build new connections.
Partnerships can also simply be about supporting a non-profit cause. While the altruistic part of this is most important, it can also bring goodwill to a brand.
Step up your email marketing
All of the previous tactics are ways to increase leads and grow an email database. These prospects can be converted into customers in many ways including through a custom email journey. There are free email services that allow you to design, send, and track email campaigns. Take the time to craft the full journey – what triggers each email and what the messaging is. If the list is large enough, take the time to test and learn, whether it is what day of the week to send, subject lines, or design and copy.
While some of these emails being used for prospects may work for current customers, emails can also be targeted specifically to customers and clients. Email marketing is also an effective tool for community engagement and customer retention and upsell. Subscribers only content and promotions, or simply a “check-in” with customers are some examples of these types of campaigns.
Free can still be effective and efficient
The adage of you get what you paid for is not always necessarily true in terms of marketing. However, you get what you put effort into is more accurate. Free tactics work best with forethought and planning, sprinkled with a little experimentation and creativity.