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8 Secrets to Free (or Nearly Free) Marketing

In today’s business climate every penny counts, especially the marketing pennies. There are some cheap and even some free marketing ways to reach your perfect customer at a point where they are ready to buy. None of these methods is new, but some have been forgotten for flashier marketing tactics. We humans like things that sparkle and give us instant results. Many of the methods sparkle in their own way and the speed of results can be debated.

The Best Free Marketing – Word of mouth

The oldest form of marketing, and still the most effective. Unfortunately it is also the hardest to get. Word of Mouth Marketing is just people telling who they know about your product or service. It works. It works very well. Think about it someone you know and trust tells you that you must see the latest movie. Are you more likely to go see it? I am sure you are. How do you get Word of Mouth? Usually you find it in quality services or products. Give your customers something excellent, and you will get Word of Mouth Marketing. I promise. (recommended reading: What Clients Love by Harry Beckwith)

Article Marketing

If you have a little time and the urge to write, you may want to do some article marketing. You are the expert, you have information to offer your clients. If you didn’t, you probably wouldn’t have them. Write a short article about your customer’s biggest needs. Don’t write a sales letter or an ad, write something that people will want to read and gives them valuable information. Post it on your website or blog, then submit it to an article submission website. Be sure to place links to your site. It will start bringing traffic pretty quick. There are many moving parts to this but you should be able to offer a point of view that will bring readers to your door.


Different from Word of Mouth Marketing, but not completely different. Referrals are when people recommend your product or service to those they don’t know personally, but professionally. They see the value of your service and want people in their industry to benefit as well. One version of referrals is the testimonial, an endorsement from a customer to all of your potential customers. They are very powerful and should be in your marketing arsenal. Your customer gets great service you get a great testimonial and more customers. Win, Win.

Coupon Exchange

This method can be very effective, but should be used in small numbers and a relatively small geographic area (internet is a good place to use this). Let’s say you own a italian restaurant and in the same shopping center is a dry cleaner. You and the Dry cleaner decide to do a coupon exchange. You will give away a coupon to the dry cleaner every time someone orders your lasagna, and the Dry Cleaner will give away a coupon to your restaurant every time someone gets a suit cleaned. You and the dry cleaner both get a bump in business without a huge cash outlay, but what’s more your customers get a nice surprise just for doing business with you. Both store owners have control of costs and the customer gets the warm fuzzy from both vendors. Win, Win, Win.

Package marketing

A lot like the coupon exchange but different. In an effort to drum up business for your photography business, you arrange a meeting with a local floral shop, a cake decorator, and a wedding planner. Together you create a package deal that highlights all four businesses. All the players give a discount to anyone who buys this package. Each vendor sells the package to their customers as a one-stop alternative. The vendors may use their own mailing list to promote it. You may even work out an incentive for the one who sells it. Your customers get a great all included package at a discount price, all the partners in this quadruple their sales force and get access to other mailing lists all while only paying 25% of the promotion costs. Win to the fifth power.

Leave Behinds

One of my favorite guerilla marketing tactics is the leave behind. You know, you are out doing business and you leave a pen or a business card behind at the bank, restaurant, or coffee shop. I like the randomness of it all. I always make sure my contact information is clear and my message must be present as well. Speak to your perfect customer and their needs. One method I have seen work quite well, go into a restaurant you frequent, ask your favorite server to carry your pen(make sure it’s a click pen). Ask them to use it when they bring the check to the table. When the patron steals the pen make sure the server has more under the counter. Another thing I have done in the past, go to a bookstore. Find the books people would be looking at if they were in the market for your service. Turn to the section that best fits what you do and leave your business card like a bookmark in the book. I have a few clients that found me this way, it was a great cheap introduction.


The best way to send a blast of information to many people is email. If you use services like MailChimp it is free. Of course you have to follow the Anti-Spam laws but email can deliver your articles, newsletters, press releases and announcements. Be careful not to bombard your lists with worthless emails, give them info they want. Help your email recipients want to read your addition to their inbox, give them something worth reading.

Social Media

I know social media can be complicated and seem like a waste of time, but you can’t deny the power of social media in the market place. Sites like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are the electronic joining of most of what we have talked about in this article. Social media combines Word of Mouth, referrals, email, article marketing, and leave behinds into a powerful tool that can make a big difference on those marketing pennies.

We must all remember that marketing is not a destination. It is a journey. You will never say, “I have arrived!” in a marketing sense. I would also warn you to not attempt all of these at once. Pick two or three focus on them. Execute them consistently for four or five months, then you might think about adding to the mix. Feel free to take these ideas and put your spin on them, make them your own. Or if you want to brainstorm more ideas, just email me.

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Mark Combs,
7802 Hwy 97
Sapulpa, OK 74066

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