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Marketing in Tough Times. How to Promote Without Money

This article is relevant to any business, but if you’re starting and running your first business in your 40’s and beyond, you don’t want to waste time or money.

Sometimes running your business, you’re going to find there isn’t enough business coming in the door. Because it is quiet, you decide to stop your marketing. Finding cost-effective ways to market is important if things are tight, but don’t stop marketing.

The #1 challenge for 38% of business owners in our surveys – over 10 000 and counting – is ‘how to get new customers’.

In this article, we’re going to share 7 ways to promote your business with no money. The one thing you must do when it is quiet is promote.


It never ceases to amaze me that in our benchmarks more than 80% of businesses have not communicated with their database of past customers in the last 12 months. Did you know that up to 90% of the future value of your business is locked up in your business right now? And it is in your database. It is six to ten times cheaper to promote to someone who knows you and has bought from you in the past than it is to attract new customers.

The first thing you should do is send some emails to your database.


Many businesses have at any moment in time, prospective customers in the form of quotes or proposals sitting in the ‘yet to be closed’ file. If you are quiet, you need to focus your energies on getting these unclosed pieces of business closed and invoiced and delivered.

Once again, if a prospect is already in the system, and already asking for a quote, they are far cheaper to promote to, then a brand new, as yet unknown suspect.

Chase them down, chase them hard and get them closed.


If you are a product business, it’s likely you have excess stock or seconds stock hanging around in your warehouse. So, go out there, document it all, and then promote a super special to clear out anything that is excess. What you are trying to do here is create flows. When it’s quiet, and the phones aren’t ringing, things can feel stagnant.

So, all you have to do is focus on moving something, anything, anywhere and you’ll find things start to move again.


If you have a following on a personal page, or a business page, it is absolutely free to promote using this channel. So, get the word out that you have some excess stock or come up with a limited time special offer only available to people on Facebook or LinkedIn.

But don’t do this as the desperation act; don’t ever use the words, ‘we’re quiet’. Always make it seem you have some excess capacity which allows you to offer this limited time special offer.


Have you looked around your office recently? No, I mean really looked? Are your windows dirty, the shelves dusty, the stock lying about like there has just been an earthquake?

Get out the vacuum cleaner and all your cleaning cloths and get the office or shop neat and tidy. Make it look like the day you opened. You will be blown away by how it feels in a clean environment and you’ll also be surprised at what happens to your sales.


If you’re quiet, it means you haven’t been promoting enough in the past, and collaborations are just another form of promotion. Find another business that you can help, who has the same type of customer. Ask them if they would consider promoting your product to their database.


Any business that is quiet has in some way disconnected from its market or its customers. If you look back in the recent past to when you were busy, you will be able to spot something that happened. You perhaps didn’t service a few customers as well as you could have?

One of the things you can do to reconnect with your market or your customers is to survey them. Once again, a huge percentage of business owners do not survey their customers as regularly as they should.

You need to know what your customers need and want from you. If you don’t know this, your products and services are going to be built and delivered based on assumptions.

If you’re quiet, why not ring the top 10% of your customers and have a conversation with them. Find out why?

And if they say they are quiet and aren’t busy enough, perhaps you could share this article, and you’ll both win!

Originally published on Smallville.

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