How many times have you heard marketing people say that spending money on marketing is and “investment”? I’m going to share something with you that will probably make you smile and nod your head; Money that goes out of my pocket is an expense, it’s not an investment until it starts paying for itself and then some.

Never invest more than you can afford to lose — Dr. Phil

When Dr. Phil said this on the Oprah show years ago, he was talking about investing in relationships. In this case, I’m talking about investing in marketing. I see so many people throwing money at marketing strategies, tactics, tools and coaches and then getting NOTHING back; no customers, no revenue, not even a lesson learned. That is not an investment, that is an expense.

So, in the spirit of only investing in something that you can afford to lose, I’m sharing 20 low cost marketing ideas that you can try for very little risk and potentially a good amount of reward.

1. Online Business Listing

So, get the marketing ball rolling with Google, Bing, Yahoo, Yellow Pages, Yelp and Facebook, and make it easier for your customers to find you.

2. Door-to-Door Advertising

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3. Team Up

For example:

  • Private music instructor + Private academic tutor
  • Landscaping company + Pool maintenance company
  • Mobile vehicle tune-up service + Mobile vehicle detailing service
  • Hair and nails + Massage

Think of these as co-branded partnerships that go together like Jiff Peanut Butter and Smucker’s Jelly. Two brands that belong together. The great thing about this kind of marketing strategy is that it’s virtually FREE and allows you and your parter(s) to leverage each others’ customers. You both sell different things to the same customer. This is a win-win situation. Take a few minutes to think about what businesses sell a complementary product or service to yours. Get on the phone, stop by and have a conversation.

[thrive_text_block color=”orange” headline=”Are You Brave Enough?”]If you want to do something REALLY radical — you can get into a partner relationship with a competitor. Think about the customers you’ve lost to a competitor. Now image that your competitor has lost customers as well. What if you guys swapped?those lost customers? It’s a win for you and your competitor as well as a win for each of your customers who get to explore an alternative that may be a better fit for them. [/thrive_text_block]

4. Raise Your Prices!

Is your product unique, in high demand or better than sliced bread? Your pricing should reflect the value of your product and your target market segment.

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5. Current Events

6. Personal Touch

7. Act Now!

8. Business Cards

The quality of your business card should equally convey the quality of your brand and services. Additionally, whether counter help, maintenance, cooks or drivers, giving all of your employees personalized business cards is both active and passive marketing.

9. Questions? Listen Up!

10. Say, “Thank You!”

11. Branding Gifts

12. Emotional Marketing

13. Make No Assumptions

And, never assume the opposite!

14. Multi-channel Marketing

15. Suggestion Box

16. More Than Expected

Spoiler alert! Instead of 20 marketing ideas, you’re getting 21. A little thoughtfulness goes a long way to being remembered in a positive light. For example,

17. Ear to the Ground

18. Take Stock

19. Know Your Customer

  • Age, race, gender identification?
  • Marital status, children?
  • Occupation, income, rent/own?
  • Local/regional/digital location?
  • Belief system, philosophy, political affiliation?
  • Magazine subscriptions, website interests?
  • A frugal shopper or a compulsive spendthrift?
  • Shop online, brick-and-mortar or both?
  • Vacations where? Time of year?
  • Vehicle make/model/year?
  • On Facebook? Ever heard of Facebook?

20. Become an Expert

21. Be Social!

You don’t have to do all of these low-cost marketing ideas. Start with ONE, implement it, measure the results. If you liked it, tweak it and keep it, if not select another one. My advice is not to choose more than three at any one time.

Happy Marketing!