By Andrew Neitlich

Marketing On A Shoestring: Bonus Information

By Andrew Neitlich

Hopefully you’ve had a chance to read the article now on Sitepoint about Marketing On A Shoestring:


While this technique is great for start-ups, I use it all the time as one of the most effective ways to generate new business. However, I make the piece of collateral specific to the prospect with whom I wish to work.


Three quick examples:

1. I wanted to work with a specific, national client. I emailed the President with 3 suggestions about how I could help. These suggestions were specific to their business (e.g. the unintentionally ineffective marketing messages their web site was conveying). The President sent me an email with a marketing piece he was working on and asked me to take a look. Within the hour I edited it, to show him what I can do. This has led to $45,000 in work since.

2. I approached an association of non-profits and offered to speak to their members for free about strategy. I showed the Executive Director my speech/presentation about non-profit strategy (crafted just for that meeting), and she scheduled me. That speech led to 3 assignments.

3. I sent a prospect a white paper I wrote about distributed IT projects, knowing that he was working on a similar project. He invited me in to talk more, and became a client.

The strategy doesn’t work all the time, and you have to be sure you want to work with a particular prospect (and know when to stop giving away free stuff) but it is inexpensive and very effective.

It is based on the philosophy of establishing trust and credibility, and of being willing to demonstrate value before asking for a dime.

  • Sounds like a good suggestion, I recently tried a similar approach with what could be a good client and it is looking like it will pay dividends.

  • I gave some free advice to a local Boys & Girls club employee about managing user authorization on a club website. As it turns out there were even more questions and they have since become a client.

  • Matthew 18:15-17

    I’ve done this before, and been terribly, horribly used. I gave free work to a filmmaker for 3 years. He just kept asking for free advice, research, graphic design, technical support…when I finally put my foot down his response was “I see! You were just trying to use me to get a job!” If you search my other posts here you’ll see another example. How does one impliment this without being used in the process?

  • Matthew; his comment to you was actually the truth (albeit bluntly put!). It would have been wise in this case to put your foot down earlier.

    You need to prove/demonstrate to your clients that your time and expertise are valuable and that you are subject to the same costs of living as they are. This is a difficult point to put across if you give them free work for 3 years!

    I think the idea is to just give them enough to get their attention. Once you have their attention switch to a more “standard” marketing approach. Demonstrate what you can do for them and how it will benefit their business but include costs, ie make it clear that this stuff doesn’t come for free from anyone. If the client can’t appreciate your methods or just doesn’t want to pay then thank them for their time and move on to another client.

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