Got An Almost Zero $$$ Marketing Budget?

Did I get your attention with this wonky title for marketing? Cuz, I get this particular something for nothing question a lot.  And I want to answer it in a forthright manner. 

I am not what anyone would ever consider a true-blue marketer. My focus is on your ENTIRE business and I see marketing as but one (important) piece of the whole pie.

Plus, in the interests of full disclosure, I have a great appreciation for the traditional forms of marketing and a more jaundiced view of many of the social forms of marketing. 

The primary reason for my skepticism is I like to go with the areas of maximum return and in my experience, the realms of social marketing have not generated anything close to the double-digit returns that certain traditional marketing techniques can still deliver.

Since the beginning of time, the entire function of marketing has been viewed by too many in black/white, love/hate, feast/famine terms. 

This is unfortunate.  Because marketing is a very indispensable part of doing business.  Whenever one is entering new territory (as a start-up, or with a new product line, or an acquisition, or against a new competitor/challenger for example) marketing is ALWAYS needed. 

Smart Marketing With Strategy Is The Preferred Route

I take a holistic view of business operations so I look at smart marketing with strategy as INVESTMENT spending.  In other words, I bet on the company and its team to execute on the strategy and then make up every single dime expended PLUS WAY MORE. 

And I make it my responsibility to ensure that none of that spending is a sunk cost.

Today, I fear that smart marketing with strategy has taken a back seat to instant gratification tactics.  Tactics like Facebook and Google ads, Snap Chat and Instagram. Shiny objects that appear to be cheap and cheerful.

Recently I saw the following question posed on LinkedIn by a young digital smart-ass.

“You’re a B2B marketer with a $100 budget. How much money do you spend on brand?  How much money do you spend on leads? And why?”

It annoyed me (but then many things seem to annoy me these days) and I mindlessly scanned the answers.  I settled on an answer from one of my own contacts.  A brilliant Canadian who just recently released his own book.  This is what he said,

The True-Blue Marketing Answer

You’re asking people to run before they think, and people are buying it. I refuse because I’m a real marketer with a brain.

1) What is my core strength: product, story, experience or price?

2) What is the competitive situation and intensity level: am I the power player, challenger, disruptor or niche?

3) How close is my relationship with my customers: indifferent, liked, loved, beloved.

4) What is my business situation: momentum, fix it, realign, startup?

5) Tell me the power structure of the category.

6) What type of B2B service, ingredient or through channel to the consumer?

7) What is my P&L: growth rate, margin, capital investment?

8) How is my brand viewed: brand funnel scores, net promoter scores, last five purchases, purchase intention?

9) What marketing tools have worked before?

10) What do we sell, and based on the customer journey, how does my brand make money?

Answer my ten difficult questions and I’ll easily answer your one easy question. Till then I’m comfortable with it in my pocket.


Finally, someone captured everything I know in my bones and he just put it out there. Brilliant! 

(If you are interested in learning more, check out Graham Robertson, a Canadian who has just released a new book called Beloved Brands.)

The ten questions he asks are very, very relevant.  Maybe not for every single company at their exact state or juncture today.  However, he lays out in stunning simplicity what every single business owner, entrepreneur, functional and aspiring leader MUST understand. 

And the Bullet Proof Marketing Answer

Marketing is NOT just about lead generation.  Marketing is NOT just about using the damn internet to find customers.  Marketing is NOT a one-time event.  Marketing is NOT simply a stand-alone activity. 

As you can see from the ten questions above, there is a whole whack of analytical data that needs to be gathered and understood.  There is also a whole whack of emotional nuance and relationship building that needs to be established and then nurtured.

Many of you have listened to Jim & I here at Bullet Proof go on ad nauseum about what successful companies do today in preparation for their stellar tomorrows. They make love to their customers. They have simple processes. They are fine upstanding community citizens. And they know in their heart of hearts that business IS personal. You have heard us preach this stuff forever. And we will continue to do so. Forever.

Back to this marketing topic. There is a whole raft of touch points throughout the entire buying cycle your customer will have.  You must keep ALL those touch points and processes simple.  That is part of the simple process business piece we speak about.

There is a whole raft of people throughout your entire organization that interacts with your customer.  You must educate and enlighten ALL those people in your business.

That is part of the make love to your customers piece of which we proclaim. And I just know you can see that both of these things have a HUGE personal component.

I can wax poetic for years about how ‘personal’ is THE magic ingredient in every single successful business.

In Summary

The question you should NEVER ask is how shall I spend my almost zero dollars in a marketing budget? What you really need to do is look at your marketing budget as the indicator of how successful you want your venture to be.  It does not guarantee your success; it sets you up for success! 

The two vital questions you need to ask are these. How big is my marketing investment and how best will I spend it? Kinda puts a completely different spin on things now, doesn’t it?

Looking for advice and counsel to fit your specific situation? Call us. We are always happy to help.

To your success!

Change Your thinking