The 3 FREE marketing activities most people forget about

When I meet with new clients one of the first things they say is, "I HATE marketing!".

Usually this is because they believe:

a) it dilutes the integrity of their brand to be "pushing" something or

b) it's too expensive and doesn't guarantee a return.  

In both cases they're wrong. Marketing is all about longevity. Good marketing pulls people in long-term, rather than pushing a message at them in the short-term.

It's about creating connections that are genuine and that last, building brand loyalty and brand recommendation. Marketing doesn't have to be expensive and, more importantly, it's something that happens to your brand whether you make an effort or not.

In the words of Henry Ford, "Those who stop marketing to save money are like those who stop a clock to save time". 

Most small business owners I meet with don't have a large marketing budget, so we often start by looking at the free, or low-cost, options they may not have fully explored.

These can include:

1. Figurehead Marketing

"NOOOOO!!!" I hear you scream, horrified that you'll have to start posting #selfies all over your social media and attending "networking" events to swap business cards. Exhale my friends, Figurehead Marketing is simply any activity that lifts the profile of the person/people who founded the brand, increasing brand awareness and providing a human element to the brand narrative.

This may be as simple as:

  • updating your LinkedIn profile

  • writing a monthly piece for your brand's blog so people gain insight into what motivates and inspires you

  • chatting to someone over Skype for a podcast relevant to your industry (i.e. homeware) or lifestyle (mums in business)

  • adding a section about the brand founder on your About Us page (often one of the most viewed pages on any site)

2. Retention Marketing

It's 6-7x harder to get a new client or customer than to retain an existing one, yet few marketing plans I come across have detailed tactics for contacting people in the post-purchase period. That is, a month or more after they have bought something from you.

Retention Marketing looks at ways to increase brand loyalty and, in time, repeat purchases. This could be as easy as looking at your best selling product, package or service and setting up an automated email to contact those people again in X months (most email platforms will have a guide to setting up automated emails based on a SKU).

For example, if you sell candles you may wish to contact people 3 months after they have bought, asking if it's time for a new candle, if they have any special birthday gifts coming up or for feedback on their experience in return for X% off their next purchase.

If you're a florist or gift company, you may wish to add a box on your order forms asking people if they would like a reminder email 12 months from now (super handy!).

One of the key ways people buy is through familiarity. By staying in touch you build upon an existing relationship. 

3. Internal Marketing

If you have employees, you have brand ambassadors. The people who work for you will talk about where they work at social events, to family and friends and even post about their jobs on social media.

How much time do you dedicate to marketing your business internally? This may be providing a cute welcome package to new starters (that's snapped and shared #ilovemyjob), preparing a lunch meal to eat together as a team once a week or putting key staff forward to speak on panels at creative events.

One of the best things I did when managing staff was to factor in a training budget, so they could attend conferences, one-off classes or indulge in an online course to increase their skill set and share this knowledge with the rest of the team. The output was minimal, the return on investment was huge.

People are a brand's greatest asset. Ensure you focus on how they perceive and relay your business. 

If you're someone who baulks at the thought of "marketing,” I suggest reframing your ideas around it. How can you best tell your business story and engage with the people who need it? That's all marketing is.  

Fiona Killackey