How to acquire customers without a marketing budget
Marketing is not just about advertising, publicity and promotional activities; it is much more than that. An organization needs marketing to be on the top of customers’ mind recall and be competitive in the market. Marketing is one function of the organization that affects the organization in all respects like cost, sales, goodwill etc. and that makes the budget for marketing very critical for the organization. The Budget must cover areas like pricing, packaging and distribution of the product or service offered by your company.
If writing a marketing budget is an important part of the micro planning, can an organization survive without a marketing budget? Can they acquire new customers without spending on publicity & promotional activities? There are startups that have no funds to do the product marketing and promotion but still there are ways in which they can create customers for their product or service. Acquiring customers by differentiating the product from the crowd is the trick that makes such organization and their product or service a success.
First thing every startup does is to make an easy to understand and a nice looking website not only to reach out to the target group of customers but also to create a reputation in the industry. Creating a website is easy but to attract your target group traffic to the website is highly expensive and a difficult task. And with no budget for marketing this becomes tougher. It is advisable that one should create a chart of features and price of the product offerings on the web, comparing directly with the competition. This will help attract attention and lead to first-time usage of the product. The moment traffic on the website increases it is time to invest in converting the opportunity into a successful business. Publishing industry surveys and results on the website is also a good idea to attract prospects.
Word of Mouth: Non-Monetary Incentive
Also known as the “Referral Program”, it is the most powerful tool to reach out to the target audience. Giving non-monetary incentive to loyal customers will encourage and spread positive word of mouth. Such customers have a high retention rate too. According to the Forbes, 18% people are more likely to stay with a product or company if they have been referred. This technique also helps the company to collect feedback from existing customers and improvise accordingly. It becomes easier to connect with customers, once it is showcased that the company understands the need of the customer, and it helps in generation of referral business. It ensures a long lasting client-company relationship. Monetary benefits out of this technique are seen in the long run. The process of acquiring a new customer through the said program is easier and profitable for a company.
Distributing small incentives to attract customers initially is a most frequently used tool nowadays in the e-commerce and online shopping era. Companies usually drop in a limited period offers, vouchers via email or in physical form. They incur no costs in doing so, however earn profits (although lesser margin) when these vouchers are encashed by the prospective customers. In such cases, as an individual usually ends up spending an amount 4-5 times of the voucher amount. It is a clever zero budget marketing technique.
It is a strategy to focus on a small group to begin with. It helps company narrow down its concentration and alters the campaigns accordingly. The concept came into existence in the 1990s and works as a great phenomenon for the e-Commerce websites.
Partner for promotion or co-marketing is an opportunity for two brands to work together. Both the partners enjoy benefits of such a promotion. They are able to reach to an audience, otherwise not within range or connected with in past. The right choice of partner is the key word here. Companies that complement each other’s products or offerings should be partnered with. For example: like a bank and an e-commerce unit complement each other by making the customer’s transaction smooth and easier.
First-time visitors on the website should be offered to sign up for newsletters, thereby building an email list. A company can stay in touch with their prospective customers through e-mail communication, introducing new products, USPs, its features, pricing etc. It is basically another effective online tool to generate leads. It is one of the cheapest modes of acquiring new customer base.
Review from Influencers
In the era of social media, “Influencers” have a great role to play in advertising a product or service. An influencer acts as a mutual friend and convinces their followers to use the product or service with ease. This helps a company in increasing the exposure to social media and attracts more traffic. Consumers today are immune to commercials and billboards thereby influencers prove to be more effective. An influencer’s audience is loyal, as they do not force themselves on their audience.
SEM: Search Engine Marketing
This involves setting up ad campaigns on popular search engines. When a visitor types matching key words, your company’s ad appears on the top and helps attract traffic. It is important to ensure that this helps pulling initial traffic however; interest of the visitor is held only if the product offering is meaningful.
Social Media Marketing
This form uses banner ads on popular social media sites like Facebook, Twitter etc. to attract the target audience. This is becoming one of the most sought after medium to attract customers.
A target list of prospective customers is prepared and calls are made to introduce a scheme or new product who might have used a similar product in the past or are likely to use in future. In today’s market condition, this seems to be a fading technique though.
After Sale Services
The very first customers are most likely to become the biggest advocates, only if after sale services are beyond expectation and above the competition. For example, thanking a customer from your personal email id, etc. It also helps in promoting, upselling, cross-selling and thereby generating higher revenues. It is an integral part of customer delight.
Extension of Trials
It is a strategy to win back customers who have tried your product initially, however, have not successfully got converted into a customer from the prospect. Why should one do so? Just because a product did not please someone in the first attempt, does not mean that it will never please the user again. An extension of trail period should be offered by sending an email to test the results.
The above-mentioned tools help a business connect with the target audience with zero marketing budgets. Once the customer base is strong, the market position is stable and the company has enough risk appetite to invest big, they should move into second phase where marketing budget can be enhanced leading to greater market share and higher profits.