Free and Cheap Marketing

Lets face it we are in a recession or at least it feels that way.  I get approached by people all the time that they don’t have the money to promote their goods and services.  I would say in times like this it may be the time to ramp up the marketing and cut back on other areas (I know this is easier said then done).

I like free and cheap marketing. I like hearing about. I like talking about. I really like to see it in action.

A month ago a person was handing out lollipops at my kids soccer game which had a coupon for a free slice of pizza wrapped around it for a new local pizza restaurant.  I like pizza. I really like free pizza. This restaurant probably hit 500 people in one morning with this offer.

In the whole scheme of things how much did this promotion really cost them?  Not much compared to traditional advertising.  Guess what?  I drank the koolaid.  We are regular customer and we would have never know about this restaurant had it not been for this promotion.

The other day I received an envelope addressed to “my neighbor.” It was from a neighborhood kid looking for some babysitting work.  What struck me about the package that was enclosed is that it had testimonials, professional looking stationary and a refrigerator magnet with both her home number and cell phone number.  This is from a kid that is 13 years old.  Guess where that magnet is?  Right on my refrigerator.  Guess who we are going to call next time we are in a fix for a babysitter.

Finally, I was reading the Saint Joe’s HawkEye newspaper. (Shout out to them I love reading the Hawk) I read an article about a student that started a cookie making business ala Mrs. Fields. I then notice that this same budding entrepreneur had notices on the bulletin boards placed in the hallways of the classroom building with an ad for her company with a tear-off section for her phone number.  I was hit by two different forms of cheap marketing within 10 minutes.

What do these three examples have in common?  They not only advertised but they left the prospect with something to remember them by.  A lollipop, a refrigerator magnet a tear-off phone number tag.

My gut is all these examples have a very high ROI.

We are not talking rocket scientry. . just good common sense which at times is lacking from even the best organizations when it comes to marketing.

You are also reading a blog that cost me nothing. . nada. . so I want to give a shout out to for helping me market on the cheap!  Other alternatives are the free social networking sites such as Linkedin, Facebook and MySpace.


Another idea is to approach your local schools hand out a flyer to local school children to bring home to their parents this is especially effective for neighbor hood organizations such as sports leagues and social organizations targeting this demographic.

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  1. I’m an advocate of ‘Self-Financing Promotions’. Goes a step beyond “Free and Cheap Marketing”.

    These are initiatives that not only attract more champions for the brand, the initiative makes a profit in the process.

    The principles of ‘self-financing promotions’ apply to home-run businesses as much as they do to large corporations.

    Here’s how it works.

    Example 1. Is Candlelady (a housewife who makes and sells candles to her friends) really selling ‘candles’ or is she selling ‘romance’?

    Once you’ve discovered the brand’s ’emotionale’, it’s really easy to work out a ‘self-financing promotion’.

    If she’s really selling ‘romance’ who would be her competition? Florists, greeting cards, fine dining restaurants….?

    If she now offers to make customised candles each fortnight for a ‘fine dining restaurant’ and offers a free pair to each of the restaurants customers who spends more than $50 a couple, who wins?


    Candlelady gets the fortnightly order for candles at the restaurant. The restaurant gets a promotion that their customers like. The restaurant’s customers get rewarded and in turn get to know about the “Candlelady” brand.

    Example 2: Disney.

    They really started out with cartoon character franchises created through comics.

    To promote the cartoon characters they started making movies. And in the process created more lovable, franchisable characters.

    Then to promote those movies they created Disneyland. Which further strengthened their franchises.

    All of these are really ‘Self Financing Promotions’ for the same master brand : Disney. All based on a fundamental consumer truth that that brand now owns.

    The trick is to discover that consumer truth.

    That’s what I coach people on. How to discover that consumer truth and convert it into a branding idea that the consumer will champion.



  1. […] Dr. Scott’s Business Blog – Free and Cheap Marketing […]

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