A lot of people say that outbound marketing is dead. Brands are turning to inbound marketing—using tailored content to draw potential customers in, instead of sending advertising out. Outbound marketing has a reputation for being costly, ineffective and irritating.
We say—um, only if you’re doing it wrong. Even if you’re thinking, “marketing budget? What marketing budget?” there are definitely effective ways to get your name out there without breaking the bank.
Bust Out the Sidewalk Chalk
No money for printing ads? No problem. Color your way to customers with a box of chalk and some basic art skills. Pick a location your target audience is likely to see, and get drawing. Make sure to include your company name and URL. Maybe throw in some kittens. If you’re starting a physical business, opt for somewhere nearby, and clearly indicate your location (think gigantic arrows). Bonus points if you make it 3D.
Pro Tip: Make your drawing awesome/unexpected/funny to boost shareability on social media. Try including a hashtag—people might actually use it, and then you’ll be able to find them and interact with them.
Ex-Con Tip: Use regular, washable sidewalk chalk. You’re an entrepreneur, not a graff kid.
Harness the Unlimited Power and Potential of the Internet
People spend kind of a lot of time online. You can make those hours = profit. Investing in a few PPC (pay-per-click) ads through Google Adwords can be an easy way to bring in traffic. You set the maximum budget per day, and you can turn the campaign off anytime. Even better: you only pay for the people who actually click on the ad and visit your site, so you’re not wasting money on people who aren’t interested.
If you’re running an ecommerce business, another way to bring in traffic is to sign up as a merchant on an affiliate marketing site. Affiliates you approve will put a link to your site on their site, and if people click on it and buy something, they get a cut of the profits. You get to pick how much.
Wild postings = posters you throw up any old place, à la concerts and warehouse sales. Instead of paying the big bucks for traditional ad space in print publications, run some posters off at your nearest copy shop (or on your own printer). Then paste them up on construction hoarding, telephone poles, coffee shop bulletin boards, etc.
Cost: About $0.50 per page
Pro Tip: Put up a bunch in one location for maximum impact.
Ex-Con Tip: Check your local laws first—you can be fined for posting in some areas (which means your marketing suddenly gets a lot more expensive).
No money for advertising? Go Ancient Mesopotamian and try out the barter system. Find a website or publication that attracts a similar target market to yours, and offer to trade ads. You run their ad, they run yours. Simple.
Pro Tip: If you can’t find anyone who wants to swap ads with you (sad face), buy often-overlooked ad space. Concert or theatre programs for indie shows, local restaurant menus and school radio stations are all great low-cost options.
The key thing to remember about outbound marketing is that it has to break through a lot of clutter. So infuse your brand’s unique personality into your marketing materials—the more creative, the better. You’ll be famous in no time!
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