Thursday, April 28, 2005

How to Market Effectively With Limited Funds

Marketing is the bane of every freelancer’s existence. Why? Because we usually don't know how to go about it and, most importantly, we don't know how/where to allocate funds around it.

I've learned over the years to think small in terms of advertising. This eliminates a lot of the frustration associated with where, when and how to allocate marketing dollars, for the following four reasons:

1) Limits Your Markets: If you only have a certain amount of money, this automatically limits the outlets you can target in which to advertise. So, instead of thinking nationally, you begin to think locally -- as in, the local penny saver, flyers, article writing, link swapping, etc.

Remember the high-flying 90s when companies were burning through tens of millions of venture capital dollars? What if they had been forced to think small on a limited budget? Maybe would still be around, eh?

A 1999 article on reminds us, "It's undeniably fun to ridicule all the defunct online-shopping sites with stupid business plans that, in retrospect, never had a chance of making money. Sites like,, Toysmart, and, which spent tens of millions without making a dime, are only a handful of the 130-odd dot-coms that closed their doors this year."

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2) Think Creatively: My mother in her infinite wisdom used to say, "Learn how to make do with what you have and you will never be unhappy." Boy, is this ever true when it comes to marketing on a freelance budget. Never are you more creative than when you are forced to think outside of the box. Limited funds allow you to be as creative as you want. Why? Because you literally have nothing to lose ... and a LOT to gain.

What you can do today: Brainstorm -- don't discount anything. Write all of your ideas down, leave them for a couple of days and come back to them with a fresh eye. The "good" ones will pop out at you -- and it'll usually be the ones you thought were the craziest of all. In case you didn't know, being broke can be FUN!

3) Focus: Limited funds force you to focus like never before. With each advertising effort you will hone in the message you want to send.

Advertising Tip: Don't try to sell all of your services at once. In your advertising, highlight one or two of your most effective services (ie, the ones MOST clients can use) and invite potential clients to visit your website or ask for a brochure/catalog to see the full range of services you offer.

Remember, we are bombarded with thousands of marketing messages each day. So, focusing on one or two central benefits that are easily remembered will exponentially increase your chance of converting potential clients into actual clients.

4) Repeat, Repeat, Repeat: Finally, marketing with limited funds forces you to choose methods that you can afford to repeat -- or at least it should.

The type of advertising you do is as important as how often you do it. As potential customers have to see your message 7 to 28 times before they will purchase, what good will it do to choose advertising that you can only afford to repeat once every six months? None!

Now, put your thinking cap on and get busy devising cheap ways to reach clients!

Now, what are you going to do TODAY to get where you want to be TOMORROW? Starter Tip: Come up with one marketing idea that you can implement almost immediately. It can be an ad in a penny saver, an email campaign, sending out 100 postcards -- whatever it is, just get busy on it!
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