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In this post, I wish to step into a space many may consider impossible to try. And that is how to scale your marketing without a marketing budget.
By scale, I mean CRUSH it!
But how can you possibly crush your marketing without…
Read that again!
…without a single marketing budget?
This post is for you if you have a small business or work for a small business and you have the passion to turn your marketing around. In spite of that, you or your employer do not have a big budget to fly with.
Have you ever wondered why some small businesses just seem to dominate their industry? Even though they don't have large budgets for social media, paid advertising, or other marketing channels, they still generate far more leads and sales than their larger competitors.
You ask how? Well, dive in further…
It's true that some huge businesses have started with nothing but a strong vision. But when you look at the top 1% of all businesses, especially in industries that are known to be saturated like travel, logistics, or fitness, it isn't always about bringing a great idea to the table.
They consistently grow and scale, no matter how many competitors enter their space. How do they do it? Many of them have mastered one fundamental principle for success —
Scaling your marketing without a budget.
In this article, I reveal some proven ways any business can grow quickly, even if you don't have the budget for paid advertising or other more established forms of online lead generation.
1. You need to understand why most businesses fail at scaling their marketing strategy – and then do the opposite: Start with Marketing First!
You have to realize that most businesses don't scale their marketing.
It's not that they aren't smart, experienced, or passionate about what they do — it's just that they often get caught up in the day-to-day tasks of running a business. As a result, many small businesses forget to spend enough time on strategic thinking.
They focus more on their products and services and less on how to sell them effectively without a marketing budget. I'm going to give you some advice in this article about where you should put your attention first when either starting from scratch or scaling your business quickly with limited resources.
2. You need ideas for developing an effective marketing strategy for free that won't cost you anything: Your Marketing Plan.
You'll find that this is the most important thing when it comes to scaling your business quickly, as well as securing a solid foundation for long-term growth.
Without a marketing plan, you're just spinning your wheels all day with half-baked ideas and random tactics that don't lead anywhere.
In fact: 80% of small businesses fail within their first year because they fail to implement a marketing strategy effectively. You won't meet the same fate if you use these steps for developing an effective marketing strategy for free:
Step 1 — Get started by asking yourself some tough questions about what type of person you want to attract as a customer (your ideal client) and what problem they're facing. This will help the ideas flow more easily when you're writing your marketing plan.
Step 2 — Use that information to get clear on the type of content you should be creating and where it should be posted. For example, if you want to attract new clients who are facing a problem with their health, you could create content that is relevant to people looking for healthy recipes or workouts.
Then you can post these articles in places like Pinterest or Facebook groups related to health and fitness. Ideally, your target customers will find your content online and feel compelled enough to reach out and buy from you directly.
You can also use free tools like Canva or Wordswag (great for Instagram) to create simple graphics with a few words on them so they're easy to digest.
Step 3 — Follow a process for how you're going to get these new leads into your funnel. Referring back to the example above, it would make sense to create free guidebooks with healthy recipes or workouts that will benefit your target customers as they work on their problems.
Then offer this resource in exchange for an email address and follow up with something like a free teleseminar where you can introduce yourself and introduce them to some of your products.
This type of lead generation strategy is best executed through a marketing automation platform like Infusionsoft (now Keap) that automatically follows up with your prospects who opt-in when you've left an open-loop (e.g., “free ebook will arrive shortly” or “we'll be hosting a free teleseminar on X”).
You may also wish to consider GetResponse or Aweber, both email marketing automation machines.
Step 4 — Start small and track your metrics. For example, you could create one piece of content (e.g., a blog post) about your healthy recipes that you can share in relevant Facebook groups. Run the ad for just $10 to start, then measure which ad brought in the most clicks and leads by using free tools like Google Analytics or Facebook's Ads Manager.
Once you have results, replicate the winning ad with a few variations to test an effective message. Then spend another $20-$50 on it until you've hit your daily budget limit for paid ads.
Rinse and repeat this process across each channel where you want to generate leads from scratch without spending money on traditional forms of marketing (e.g., magazine ads or TV commercials).
NB: Most people believe ads worth $5 are quite good for a start, but with Google Ads, you want to start the journey with $10. This is recommended for a more effective result. However, with Facebook Ads, you may run an ad as low as $2 to $5 for a start, but I recommend scaling up to between $5 – $10 per day.
Note: I do NOT recommend testing this process over a 2-week period, as some people will tell you to do. It takes about 45 days of consistent effort to build momentum — especially when you're doing things for free that don't provide immediate results to your bottom line.
In fact, I recommend setting aside one hour every night after dinner for the first 30 days and then repeating it again on all subsequent Saturdays until you've mastered your marketing plan within 45 days (or less!). This is how much time it's going to take for most entrepreneurs who are starting from scratch without any brand awareness or list of contacts.
Step 5 — Test and refine your winning marketing strategy. Once you've identified which content is resonating best, start testing other variations to see what else works.
This will begin to give you an idea of what differentiates your business from all the rest (e.g., health coach vs nutritionist) and that's how you'll get more new clients to call themselves “your people.”
If it helps, I recommend putting up sticky notes with your latest marketing ideas on a wall near your desk so they're easy to remember each day when planning out future campaigns.
It also helps if you write down these ideas regularly in the free Marketing Plan Workbook, which walks you through the process step-by-step.
Step 6 — Build a new funnel that converts passive prospects into lifetime buyers. Once you've identified your best marketing strategy, build an online course or program that provides more information to the original free content.
Encourage your first-time visitors to sign up for either one of these options by starting with something like a 7-day challenge to help jumpstart their success.
By the way, you can use a tool like GetResponse to collect names and emails for your marketing automation platform (or Keap) with an online lead magnet that helps you build your list. If you're not sure what content to include in your email campaign yet, check out my other blog post on this topic here.
NB: Do NOT worry about coming up with a perfect lead magnet right now — just make it good enough so people are willing to give you their contact information to get in line for something better later. Your goal at this point is just to start gathering more leads, even if they're not fully qualified prospects yet!
Step 7 – Create a new webpage capture form for your sales funnel. Once you have started building up a list of prospects, you need to present them with a sales page that tells them about the opportunity at hand. This is where things can get tricky for new entrepreneurs because most of us don't know how to tell a compelling story — much less write it down!
Fortunately, there are courses like Copy Hackers (my favorite!) and Ultimate Sales Letter 2 that help you craft a winning sales message so people will listen…and maybe even buy!
NB: As I mentioned before, I recommend starting your copywriting journey by using a product lead magnet first to capture email addresses from your audience. You want to test different templates before sending emails that contain any offers or products in the actual
Most people want to start with sales before they've put much effort into developing a strong inbound lead generation system that scales easily over time (great post on this here ).
They're trying to set up a retail store without acquiring any customers first. So they'll create a website, buy ads for local magazine pages, purchase costly TV commercials that air during the day when people are at work, and struggle to fill seats for all of the supposed new traffic they're getting from those ads.
This is not a smart business. You need a lead generation strategy in place first before you start spending money on your sales team or similar initiatives because it just doesn't make sense to spend money on things that don't work in the first place.
This type of lead generation strategy can be done at a very low cost and scale easily over time without outsourcing anything; it's a win-win solution for your business. But it also takes more than simply publishing a blog post or sending out an email newsletter once every few weeks to accomplish your goals, which is why so many marketers give up without making any money.
A great way to get started with an inbound lead generation strategy is investing some time into reading (and re-reading) a few books on the subject of marketing automation and how to scale web traffic. It took me years to learn online marketing tactics from scratch — and even longer to find practical ways for my business model:
Don't make my mistake! Spend more time learning now if you want things to go faster down the road. As I mentioned before, there's no substitute for reading hundreds of marketing articles and blog posts as a shortcut around this process.
Step 8 – Set up Google Analytics and track website conversions. For those who aren't familiar with Google Analytics, it's essentially Google's way of measuring your website traffic by tracking user behavior such as the number of times a visitor clicks on one page vs another, how much time they spend on each page, etc.
On top of that, you can also use the service to set up conversion funnels so you determine which campaigns are driving more traffic to your site and converting better than others. This helps ensure that you get the most out of every dollar spent on advertising or content creation in the future.
Step 9 – Use SumoMe to build an email list from social platforms (or Keap)! If you're not already familiar with it, SumoMe is a powerful software suite built upon WordPress plugins that gives you a ton of easy-to-use tools for increasing website traffic and social media engagement.
These tools help further your inbound marketing efforts so you can grow your email list with people who are actually interested in what you have to say. You can integrate SumoMe into your website using simple widgets, too…which makes it super easy to add popups, sliders, and other interactive elements that grab your readers' attention!
The longer you go without building an email list, the more difficult (and expensive) it becomes to build up trust and rapport with potential customers so they'll consider buying from you when the time comes. This is why I recommend waiting until Step 9 before integrating SumoMe or any other similar software solution into your business.
Step 10 – Build a website and grow your email list with lead magnets! Again, I can't emphasize enough how important this step is for growing your online audience to the point where you can finally start selling to them without being pushy or sales-y. You really need to take your time on this step because it's going to determine whether or not anyone wants to buy from you in the future.
Not only that, but every single visitor who enters your email list should also have an option to receive added value content that gives them even more incentive to do business with you later (giving away free ebooks is a great way of doing this!). And if everyone opts into receiving these types of emails over time, it'll also help you retain more of your subscriber base.
Step 11 – Use Google's Keyword Planner to find profitable traffic sources. Although I wouldn't recommend it for new marketers, it's not a bad idea to spend some time on more advanced topics like keyword research and SEO if you want to take your business to the next level. As these strategies become increasingly important in driving more traffic — and hopefully sales — over time, they're definitely worth looking into with more detail than what's explained in this step-by-step guide:
The reason why I don't recommend using keyword planner right out of the gate is that you won't have much direct control over how your website starts ranking on Google when other people start searching for related