How One Company Spent Zero on Marketing

That one company mentioned? It happens to be mine. Early on, much wasn’t being spent on marketing simply because the funds weren’t available. Some dabbling was done with the usual suspects: the Yellow Pages, online ads, etc. None seemed to do more to build my brand online. So now, five years later, surprisingly nothing is being invested in marketing yet enough was earned to profit and expand. Intrigued? Read on.

zero dollars

Unfair Advantage

I’m a big proponent of social media, blogging and networking. To be honest, my business has an unfair advantage in using these tools since it’s a marketing firm that ultimately provides these services to others. Churning out blog posts or social media updates comes naturally. However, not all small business owners may have the same ease with the keyboard or the time to do it themselves.

Marketing Strategy

There aren’t hundreds of clients coming from Twitter or Facebook. Occasionally someone will pop up and ask about a service. A few people have stumbled across blogs and made contact. So you see, it’s not a clear cut A to B path that gets new business. It’s more about branding and building your presence online.

Projects are bid on through Elance and Guru and some proposals might not stand out more than others. But you see, it’s really about what people find when looking at blog posts and the other 4 million results that appear when Googling your name. Potential clients can read blogs to get a sense of your writing style as well as where you stand. They can find social media posts that share links to great articles. And in my case, they can also find a few answers on Quora and Focus.

In short: Potential clients can get a degree of confidence by looking at what you’ve done online.

So you see, you don’t need to spend a lot of money to get marketing results. Become known for what you do and make sure that when people search for keywords in your industry – your business appears. Social media and blogging work; just ask the hundreds of companies who use it daily to brand themselves.

Take the time to figure out what works for you and your company, regardless of how little it costs – and run with it.

Zero Dollars Photo via Shutterstock


Susan Payton Susan Payton is the Communications Manager for the Small Business Trends Awards programs. She is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an Internet marketing firm specializing in content marketing, social media management and press releases. She is also the Founder of How to Create a Press Release, a free resource for business owners who want to generate their own PR.

10 Reactions
  1. Yes! Customers definitely make assumptions about your business based on your social media activity.

    If your social media presence is sparse to non-existent, customers will assume that you “just don’t get it.”

    Susan, I know you own an internet marketing firm, but I believe your point holds true for other types of businesses as well.

    We own a martial arts school and we’ve seen the impact social media and blogging has on our business in both direct and indirect ways.

    We’ve published blog posts that have led directly to thousands of dollars in revenue for us. And then we’ve also had students tell us that part of the reason they joined was because they really liked our Twitter and Facebook presence.

    As you say, social media and blogging don’t always lead to a clear cut A to B path, but they are still critical to every small business owner’s marketing arsenal.

    • Carmen–
      Thanks for your insight! I think any business can do what I do. I just admit I have an unfair advantage! Sounds like you’re using these tools well!


  2. Great post Susan.

    I too am lucky enough to have launched, built my brand and created a profitable business through the power of social media and reputation and haven’t spent a penny on advertising since my launch eighteen months ago.

    Targeting your market and building a trusted reputation, as well as delivering exactly what you promise kicks the jungle drums into high gear and gets your marketing beast working for you. The unfortunate thing is many mall business owners struggle to get to grips with how to use social media in a way that brings them customers.

    Before Christmas I was asked by a UK national magazine how they could increase traffic to their website, I told them to blog more and start talking to their customers and advertisers on twitter and Facebook. Six weeks later their bounce rate is down 25% and traffic is up 125% with advertising and sales both up respectively. Their spend on dvertising to do that……£0!

    I’ve got clients using iPhones to record video to post online and dictaphones to record blog posts for dictation, every business owner knows their products and their business better than anyone, there is always a way to make it easier. Those hat put obsticals and distraction in the way simply don’t want to do it in my experience.

    • Steve–
      You’re also proof that this works! It’s easier if you already “get” social media so you don’t have to spend time learning it on the job so to speak!


  3. I definitely judge a business by their online presence. SEO has changed the way companies market themselves and I try to heavily market myself and my blog via online channels. It’s definitely the best way to get seen these days and is very cost effective as you mentioned.

  4. Susan: The best advertising is word of mouth marketing and that is “only” a cost of building up a personal brand by being recognized (visibility), liked and trusted (credibility) and then turn it into profit. The long-range name of the game is referral marketing.

  5. agreed, it’s a useful tool but social media is not free – unless you don’t value your own time, which sadly most small business owners don’t – which is why they end up feeling like a slave to it.

    definitely leverage the power of web marketing but factor in the cost of the time involved

    • Jason–
      It’s not free moneywise, but if you’re doing your own marketing, part of your time must be spent doing marketing. It’s still pretty cost effective.