Red Bull Energy spends an awful lot on marketing. Their wildly successful marketing endeavors (everything from events to stunts to publications like the Red Bulletin), along with simple-but-effective products, have launched them into the stratosphere with other super-successful companies. They’re living proof that intelligent marketing (and a huge budget) can pay off.
But there’s something sad about this: not everybody has a gigantic marketing budget, and some have no marketing budget, let alone extensive knowledge about marketing. How do you market without any sort of budget? It’s not exactly an easy task, but the idea is very simple. Chances are you’re already doing it and don’t even know it. Let’s look at the story of a small company that was successful without ever spending a penny on marketing.
As I may have mentioned, in another life I was a construction worker who worked with my dad’s company. Having been around the company my whole life, I got to watch how a person runs a business. I got to watch how each month at least a few people didn’t pay on time. I watched how occasionally, when work was slow, there was barely enough money to keep the company in the black. Owning a business can be a precarious game, especially when a recession causes the type of downtime you can only survive for so long: total lack of work.
The main thing that got my dad’s company (and subsequently, me) through the recession was the fact that he had an outstanding reputation for quality among not only his peers, but with any client he worked with. He famously said (as famously as a small construction company owner can say things) that for the first ten or so years of business, he never once advertised and the company name never even appeared in the phone book for most of that time. If you didn’t know the company, you wouldn’t find them anywhere, unless someone referred you to them. And that’s exactly what happened. His entire business was built on quality of work, solid relationships, and word of mouth. Because of that, when times got tough, he was one of the few companies who survived simply because he never once did a shoddy job, even when things were busy enough to spread him thin.
Advertising and marketing is great if you’ve got the time and resources to do it. But for a small company like my dad’s, or ostensibly, yours, there might not be time or resources to use on marketing. Instead, your livelihood depends on your reputation and client’s willingness to recommend you to their peers and other people in the industry, which means the quality of your work must speak for itself. From this you can see that the quality of your work actually is a form of marketing. Without advertising or any sort of marketing, you’re not doing any of the speaking on your own, but by taking your time and offering world-class services, you’ll give them something to talk about, and in the always-online world, there’s little that can cut through the noise like a solid testimonial.
In a recent talk for Creative Mornings, web designer Brad Frost summarized the idea perfectly, “Things that are genuinely good will be shared.” If it’s good (a product or a service), people will want to share it. Giving people a good product or service will make them want to share with others, and that means your company will get free marketing from people who dealt with you hands-on. The better you do, the more they share, and the more marketing you get, regardless of the time or budget you have for it.
Want more about marketing? Check out our MSP re-branding guide.