Zero budget marketing

Posted by kdow on May 10, 2016 4:34:14 PM

In the world of apps, startups & new business, there’s often a lot of time & effort poured into the product. It’s only after that the business needs to think about the sales & marketing funnel(s) to drive growth in that product, which in turn creates opportunities for revenue, product iteration & even funding rounds.

However, when a company is tiny & budgets are tight, sales & marketing are thought of as things that will happen in the future. A good example of such a company would be… well, 8bytes.

8bytes is a small collective building apps & services for companies & individuals on a contract basis. Building stuff for humans. Most of the resources in the business are driven towards building beautiful, useful & meaningful experiences for clients. Not having hordes of sales & marketing people. The budget just isn’t there. Yet.

The normal approach

Typically marketers (or growth hackers, god forbid) look at the conversion funnel to drive leads into the business. This means having top notch content at the top of the funnel, which brings visitors who are searching for answers to questions on Google, social channels & similar. This allows the company to build some form of audience.

Some subset of that audience will convert into a more middle-of-the-funnel area. This could mean anything from signing up to a newsletter to pressing a call me button to request time with a sales rep. Either way, the marketer now has that visitors’ details in their system, ripe for emailing.

At the bottom of the funnel you’re making money. Normally this means the marketer is pushing the now-qualified leads through to a sales rep (or buy now button) to turn that initial visit into cash money.

All of this is fairly logical, but what if there’s no budget for a marketer, software to run these activities, etc.?

The zero budget approach

Having no budget presents a bunch of issues. The main issue being that there’s no money for humans to write content or plan out conversion strategies.

So, in order to drive visitors into money with no budget, you need to re-align the thinking. You still need some content online to explain what you do, how you do it & why you’re better than anyone else at doing it (in 8byte’s case that’d be being better at building software on contract than anyone else, but also better at servicing it afterwards… and 8bytes’ crew are lovely people to deal with throughout that process!), so other people are needed to write that content (even a dev can write things on a blog).

Instead of thinking of a traditional funnel, you re-jig everything. For example, instead of driving visitors to leads, leads to customers and having an organic growth strategy written down, why not just deliver a fucking amazing service & product?

There’s no stronger marketing power than word-of-mouth. With zero budget for marketing or sales, you need to pour your resources into awesome products, features and experiences for clients. So in lieu of marketing assets, just build better experiences for your client base. From there, then, you can grow your client base & revenues because the people who love you will recommend you.

Spending 10 hours per week digging into optimising a funnel to draw a 2–3% revenue increase per lead is great when you’re big. But when you’re small, stepping back and seeing the big picture is the best approach. Flipping the funnel and focusing on your existing customers to drive new ones is the best approach.

The normal approach versus the ‘strapped startup no budget’ approach.

Think about coffee. The best coffee shops have no budget for marketing. No billboards, no fancy websites, no podcast sponsorships. They just make excellent product, and serve it in a way that no other coffee shop can. Word-of-mouth, multiplied by time served will turn the shop into a successful money-making machine. Without a single marketing funnel in sight!

Of course, in time, if there are 10 coffee shops serving thousands of people and investors who want more detail on how, why & where the coffee business is growing, marketing/growth & sales will need to align behind cohesive strategies & deliverables. But for a small business, focusing on your product & how you serve your client base is the same thing as building a solid top of the funnel strategy.

The irony is delightful

The irony in all of this is really simple: sales & marketing are vital to a companies’ viability. But, dedicating humans to sales & marketing just might not be viable at the start of a companies’ journey. Some co-founder should probably do those roles in concert with each other — and the probably 100 other things they have to do.

But the big thing here is that sometimes the product & how you delight a client is the marketing funnel. Delighting people is the sales ROI. Delighting people is the future revenue growth.

And the biggest irony of all? 8bytes are hiring a marketing intern.