As the saying goes, “You need to spend money to make money” but for a lot of companies, the marketing department usually doesn’t have the money and resources to compete with the more established brands. If your company falls into this category, don't despair. Marketing has changed dramatically in the last few years with social-media campaigns and sponsored content as one of the most popular (and less expensive) avenues to get in front of potential customers. While this is the trend, the space is getting more saturated, and it becomes harder for a company to cut through the noise and differentiate itself. With that said, sometimes the best and most innovative way of doing that is by taking stock of your resources and leveraging your customers.
Here are three ways to create disruptive marketing campaigns on a limited budget.
1. Take a stand and fight for something.
A company can amplify its voice if there is a cause that it can share with its customers: a rallying cry they can get behind and let their customers do the talking for them. Remember great ideas and taking a stand are free. By rallying for a cause you create loyalty through a sense of community and you empower customers to make a real difference.
A great and very popular example is the shoe company, TOMS, and their efforts to aid people around the world with basic needs. For every pair of shoes that is purchased, TOMS provides a child in need with a new pair of shoes. This campaign has been extended to TOMS eyewear, so that with every pair of glasses that is bought, the company will offer eye care services to a needy person.
Your company may not have the means to do a one-to-one match like TOMS, but the whole idea is to find what your company is passionate about and bring that message to your customers to magnify your presence. As an alternative, you can do annual or quarterly matches of your product or services and donate that to a cause that you care about.
2. Bartering and using dead inventory.
The best partnerships (even one-time transactional partnerships) are when both sides receive something they find value in. Most of the time this is financial but when you don’t have a lot of money to throw around, you need to get creative. If people are paying for your products, chances are it’s something desirable to use in trade.
For instance, you can work with conferences to give away your product or service for free or discounted rate to attendees in exchange for badges or a sponsorship.
3. Ask your customers for help.
Whether or not your campaign has a budget, it should always have your customers in mind. Perhaps you need a caterer for an event and have a customer who has a catering business? Hire them. Maybe you have a cool media opportunity fall into your lap? Instead of you as a company taking that on, ask a customer to speak on their experience with your company or your product. By hiring or promoting your customers, you make use of your resources and form a real connection. And with that connection you are empowering your customers to share experiences and in turn become a highly passionate indirect sales force- that’s what disruption is all about!
Overall, these three ways to market on a budget are all based on being closely connected to your customers. By spending time with your customers, you will understand them better, know what they like and want but even more than that, you will try a lot harder not to disappoint them. And when budgets are tight, knowing your customers and employing some clever tactics will go a long way in creating disruptive marketing campaigns that work.
Lastly, keep in mind that each of these suggestions can grow into 100 different ideas. But the one thing that each idea should make people do is scratch their heads. When you have a limited budget you need to create experiences and conversations.