I have never had a budget for marketing.
I know, it’s weird and I’d love to try out some paid tools, but 7 years of marketing products and companies with zero budget taught me a lot of lessons. Of course, there are some obvious bottlenecks of not using paid ads and tools, however, I see some advantages, too.
How it all started
I had worked in an NGO for four years: first as a head of a marketing department at a local level, then as a PR manager at a national level. That experience drastically changed my mindset and showed me that having a purpose and a growth mindset makes everything possible. When you work in the NGO, most likely you don’t have any budget at all. That means that you need to think outside the box and find resources to achieve your goal.
Now I work as a Head of Organizational Development in an IT company and still apply many zero budget marketing tools and techniques when I work on building business processes or implementing new tools. In this article, I’ll share with you the advantages of using a zero budget concept for both a marketer and a company.
Benefits of zero budget marketing for marketing managers
Let’s explore the benefits of zero budget marketing for marketing managers.
- Creativity. That is the main advantage of having a zero budget. If you have no budget but still need to get the job done, you get creative and come up with some zero budget marketing ideas. You can get inspiration from someone else’s experience or come up with a completely new idea. Start thinking outside the box on a daily basis. This skill will be of help in many life situations.
- Career boost. If you acquired a creativity skill from the previous paragraph, you can start using it at work. Great chances that you’ll find a new free way to achieve your goals and surprise your boss and co-workers with a decreased lead price.
- Marketing budget optimization. As soon as you learned how to distinguish when a free method can be applied and when some budget must be invested, you can plan your marketing strategy in a way to save some budget by using free technics and then invest the surplus to testing a new potentially more effective tool.
Benefits of zero budget marketing for companies
Not only marketers benefit from zero budget marketing, but also companies can gain more profit out of using free marketing tools.
- Competitive advantage. If your marketing department managed to find a way to attract new leads using a free or low budget tool, a company will literally get for free something others pay for.
- Marketing managers’ skills improvement. Having an unlimited or big budget can make your marketing managers too confident and lazy. They know that they will have the budget anyway. On the other hand, having limited resources will keep them on their toes and foster self-educating and self-development.
- Resources reallocation. If you implement the “first try to find a free way to get things done” approach in your company, you will be surprised how much money you can save. And saving some money means it can be invested in business development, corporate culture or any other area that needs extra support at the moment.
A Successful Example of Zero Budget Marketing
That is the example from the times when I was working in an NGO and was also organizing events. Even though now I work in an IT company, we also do educational events in order to strengthen our employer brand. Of course, I use my experience of applying marketing tools for nonprofits and actively implement a zero budget approach to organizing our IT events.
I was the main organizer of an educational event on marketing. We needed a venue, so I negotiated with a local library, and they allowed to hold the event there in exchange for promoting this library among attendees. Then we needed printed promotional materials such as posters, attendees booklets, a press wall, etc. I agreed to collaborate with a printing agency in exchange for placing their logo on our press wall. Also, we needed to feed our attendees and speakers. Can you guess what I did? Of course, I contacted a local bakery and asked them if they can provide cookies and drinks. As for promotion, we used our own social media channels and a newsletter. Also, we got lots of informational partners who published articles and announcements about our events. That’s it.
The whole event with zero expenses from our side. We paid nothing in a situation when other companies invest huge budgets. And we still got many leads. Yes, it would be easier to buy ads on social networks, food for coffee breaks, and rent a fancy business hall. But my point is that is still very feasible to get a lot of things done without spending money. You can negotiate in-kind partnerships, attract sponsors, do something manually, etc. Believe me, this experience will be much richer and much more intense than just the experience you’d get buying all necessary things.
Find the balance between free and paid instruments
Of course, most likely it is not possible to completely switch to zero budget marketing, but try to find your own balance between free and paid tools based on your marketing budget allocation model. Don’t be afraid of investing time and even some budget for initiatives that will work for your company on their own for a long term. For example, create evergreen content, establish partnerships with influencers, set up tracking on forms at your website, start your own newsletter, work out a social networks strategy. All of these initiatives are free and require only the time of your marketing department. After that add a couple of paid tools or ads that will work in synergy with your current strategy. That is how you can amplify your marketing efforts.
Zero budget marketing is an endless ocean of opportunities because its effectiveness depends on a combination of marketer’s creativity and expertise.
If you’re in doubt, don’t rush to allocate your marketing budget to paid tools or to hire a PPC specialist. Contact me first to find out what free or low budget marketing tools to promote your business we can offer.