Marketing on a budget

Did you do the ice bucket challenge?

Remember, the viral videos of people soaking themselves…

The campaign created a ripple effect that spread around the world and was taken up by people including Obama, Bill Gates, the Beckhams, MarkZuckerberg, Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber.

The key was social media. Friends would post a fun video of themselves covering their heads in ice cold water and then nominate 3 more friends to do the same. 

A bit of fun right. 

But what you may not remember about the videos is that they had a serious side. They were part of a genius marketing campaign to raise awareness of the disease Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). We think they did pretty well!

The challenge attracted millions around the world and made ALS a household name, spreading awareness and raising funds. 

The ice bucket challenge campaign has come to be known as one of THE MOST successful marketing campaigns in history. It garnered more than $220 million around the world for ALS research, and cost almost nothing to get started. 

The challenge is a perfect example of clever marketing. It is the use of novel or unconventional methods in order to boost sales or attract interest in a brand or business.

Marketing does not have to be expensive, it just has to be FUN, CREATIVE, and COMPELLING.

So, with that in mind, here are 10 affordable marketing strategies that can help you get the word out there about your brand:

1.Lumpy mail

If someone were to send you a package through mail, chances are much higher that you would be curious to open it than if it was a regular flyer or piece of paper, which would be your typical marketing on a budget territory.

I once heard of an incredible lumpy mail, where a brand sent over a flip flop to a potential customer. On it were written the words, “Now that I’ve got my foot in the door, can we have a conversation?”

Cheesy, right?

But at the very least, it would make the receiver smile. And chances are REALLY high that they’ll never forget that the brand exists. They would probably want to find out more about it, and hopefully have a Google.

Just as the name suggests, lumpy mail is something tangible added to a postage to make it more intriguing, and to make sure it gets opened, without costing a fortune. The flip flop example cost about £3 per send.

Statistically, people are up to 20x more likely to engage with a lumpy mail over a standard mailshot. 

2. Lead magnets & Downloadable’s

If we’re being completely honest, everyone likes free things.

And not just free things, valuable free things.

If you want to market on a budget, then I’d highly recommend that you offer your audience some free resources.

It could be a free E-book or simple worksheet that’s going to give valuable information away. 

By potential customers downloading, they help you to build email lists, develop customer relationships, and increase sales. They also showcase your knowledge in your area of expertise, and help build trust in your audience.

At Outside ideas, we have a wealth of free resources in our knowledge bank from business strategy to goal setting to business-life balance.

3. Social media

Social media was one of the greatest gifts given to marketers.

At the touch of a button, you can potentially reach millions of people and get them to buy your product.

The truth of the matter, however, is that just because you use social media doesn’t mean you’re good at social media marketing. 

This leaves you with two options:

  1. Hire an expert to do the work for you.
  2. Invest in (free or paid) online courses that help you learn social media marketing.

Whatever the case, we would strongly recommend that you put your business on social media, but use it consistently, you must show up. Don’t put it down when things get busy, you’ll start from the beginning again. If you need help managing this through busy periods there are loads of social media scheduling tools, some of which are free for a certain amount or for periods of time.  

At Outside ideas, we are power users of LinkedIn and are RAVING FANS of Warren Brown, Harold Floyd and Catherine Warrilow

Free advertising never felt so good.

4. Networking

There are so many wonderful success stories about networking, and for a good reason. Networking gives you a cost effective way of getting yourself noticed by a supportive group of business owners. Super high value, this hits the marketing on a budget brief spot on.

There are many networking groups available, and you can find what suits you best. A good networking group is fun, friendly, collaborative, and informative. 

Networking shouldn’t feel like a chore or another boring meeting on your calendar. It should be something that you look forward to. Because when you look forward to it, you’ll easily benefit from it.

If you’re looking to get into networking or to get better at it, we have a FREE guidebook on ‘How to network like a pro.’ Download it here. If you’d like to try our group Networking in… use the code FRIENDOfOi.

5. Warm calling

When you have your foot in the door, it’s easier for a potential customer to listen to you.

That’s where warm calling comes into play.

Warm calling is contacting a prospect by phone that you’ve got some sort of connection with. That connection may have come through a referral, a customer contact or someone you’ve built some sort of relationship with ahead of the call.

In today’s age, there’s literally no need to cold call anymore. With the advent of social media, it’s never been easier to build relationships and get yourself noticed. . 

Warm calling is typically more efficient and effective than cold calling, where a prospective customer is solicited by a person with whom they have had no previous interaction.

It’s REALLY important that you remember that the purpose of a warm call is to set up an appointment. Selling should take place during your appointment, not in a brief phone call, otherwise that will feel to your potential new client, that you’re being too pushy, and will get the ‘marketing on a budget’ vibe.

There are numerous courses and videos available on how to make a successful warm call. If you’re not well practised with warm calling, we’d suggest researching what to have in your script, so that you can go in confident and assertive. 

6. Handwritten mail

Here’s a fact…

Handwritten messages get a lot more attention than printed notes and letters…

Statistically, handwritten envelopes get open rates of up to 98% while only 42% of recipients either read or scan the printed direct mail that they receive.

Why? Because handwritten notes are different. No one does them anymore, and they’re more personable. 

When you receive a handwritten mail, you’re more likely to think that it was specially crafted for you, which of course makes you more drawn to it.

So take advantage of this in your marketing. It might take more time, but it’s REALLY affordable and can get you the results that you’ve been looking for all along.

7. Webinars & workshops

Like we said, people are REALLY drawn to value.

If you can identify one problem that some of your potential customers face and offer solutions in a webinar or workshop.

There are loads of benefits to conducting webinars or workshops. Not only do they help you demonstrate your skill and ability, they help you to communicate with your target audience, move your leads down the sales funnel, and increase the expertise of customers already using your product.

We regularly run free lunch and learn sessions. They are short sessions and don’t take too much prep. Most recently we held a workshop called Perfect your Pitch where we were talking about how to create an elevator pitch that gets you noticed.

Our Alliance member Victoria Wright of is a pro at this! She’s constantly holding webinars on valuable topics relating to health through science and nature.

8. Strategic partnerships 

“If you want to walk fast, walk alone. If you want to walk far, walk together.”

Partnerships can help you supercharge your business!

And lead to A LOT of success. To identify a great partner, you need to find someone who has the same target audience as you, but who is in a different business from yours. This might be a slow burn strategy, but if you’ve got your partner right, it will pay dividends.

For example, if you’re looking to build your digital marketing portfolio, one viable opportunity is to reach out to a B2B business looking for those services.

As you help them with digital marketing, they can introduce you to businesses that are possibly looking for those services.

A famous example of a strategic partnership is that between Starbucks and Spotify.

Starbucks created a coffee shop experience with the help of music to create an ambience.  

Together they wanted to create a “music ecosystem” allowing artists to easily have access to Starbucks consumers, and vice versa, allowing Starbucks to have access to Spotify’s discography. 

It’s all about symbiotic relationships. A business where you help one another and each of you gains from it. Doing so will help you to increase awareness, increase sales, and build your brand credibility.

9. Develop a referrals strategy

Word of mouth is the oldest form of  marketing and in todays world, completely UNDERRATED!

Referrals are a great way to generate business, and is perfect marketing on a budget stuff. It’s a snowball effect. When one person believes in your business and sends word out there about it, you end up with thousands of loyal customers.

At Dave Plunkett’s talk during Networking in… he had three main pointers to get more referrals:

  1. Ask for the referrals (at the right time).
  2. Make it easy
  3. Say thank you (and in the right way).

Here’s a link to the talk: 

Dave also has an upcoming workshop on referrals, and if you want to REALLY get into it, then you can find out more about it here.

10. PR

PR is another really important facet that you should leverage, which is great for marketing on a budget.


It’s affordable and it can help you spread the word about you and your brand.

Maybe you can partner with a charity and work together. The benefit would be that more people find out about your brand, and at the same time you’re involved in a worthy cause.

This year, for example, Outside ideas partnered with Green Machine Computers in their tech amnesty to donate as many laptops and tablets as we could to the children who needed them in order to carry on their education. We were able to create PR pieces on the back of the partnership which were published in a number of online publications.

Summing up.

From viral challenges, to handwritten notes. There are tons of opportunities to promote your business with a cost effective marketing strategy. We hope you’ve found this post useful, and can start to implement a few of these ideas. 

You don’t have to implement all of them at once. Better to take one or two ideas, test them out and measure the results over the course of a month or two. Once you’ve got some data, ditch the one that’s less successful and try out two more. Over time, you’ll get to a point where you have multiple marketing strategies on the go at once and be  confident in what works for your business. 

So which of our 10 ways to get marketing on a budget will you try first?

  1. Networking
  2. Lumpy mail
  3. Lead magnets and downloadable’s
  4. Social media
  5. Warm calling
  6. Handwritten mail
  7. Webinars and workshops
  8. Strategic partnerships
  9. A referrals strategy
  10. PR

If you’d like some help putting these marketing on a budget tips into practice, we’re only a phone call away.

Get in touch, and let’s get your marketing strategy up and running.


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