Low-Budget, Crowdsource Customer Acquisition
What if you have a small, even non-existent marketing budget, (like many start-ups) and must acquire customers at low or no cost? If this is you, then likely you have no proven marketing campaigns. Just a product. And a product that you believe has a lot of potential. Where do you start?
The challenge of low marketing budgets is one most start-ups go through, and actually, it’s even a challenge these days for the established marketer who has a budget.
So what are the low cost (or seemingly no cost) channels for customer acquisition? Let’s look at a few categories:
- Email: Great for selling to existing customers, but not so great for new customer acquisition. Email seems to be virtually no cost until you run the numbers (see Crack the Email Prospecting Code for guidance about running your numbers.) If the numbers make sense, customer acquisition email is worth a test.
- Social Media: The buzz would have you believe that if you have a Facebook or Instagram page, you’re making money. Usually that’s not true. Organic reach on social media is terrible, unless you’re in a narrow niche where someone is actively searching for the type of product or service you offer. To repeat a quote I read recently: “Trying to reach people organically on social media is like trying to get someone’s attention at a crowded party, while they are deep in conversation and the music is on at full-blast.”
- Content Marketing: Possibly works if your content is truly unique and is otherwise hard to find. There are over a billion websites, and billions of pages of easily accessible content. Do it, but don’t count on it to make your numbers.
- SEO: Same as content … it possibly works if you’re the only source for your specific niche market product or service.
- Video: These days, people are usually content watching a video that was recorded on a smartphone. There are millions of videos on YouTube. Videos embedded in Facebook can be effective, assuming you’re paying to play with a sponsored post. A video must stir emotion, entertain and deliver value to be effective.
- Facebook Retargeting: Even though content on Facebook may be more about branding than conversion, I still find that retargeting people who have visited your website, or are on your email list, to be a cost-effective way to get a message out.
As counterintuitive as it may seem, perhaps the best marketing for new customer acquisition is no marketing. We’ve conditioned prospective customers to tune us out.
So what to do?
Crowdsource your customers. Obviously, you need a few customers to get started, so you’ve got to find (or fund) ways to get some customers started with you, even if it’s family and friends. Then you need to quickly move to create your own crowdsourcing (or a friend-get-a-friend program — for tips, see my last column). Then figure out how to incent your customers to bring you additional customers (rather than you paying for the cost of other channels).
Finally, don’t forget to include your customer service people in the discussion about reaching customers, and offers that would appeal to them. Your customer service staff often knows what the hot buttons are to get and retain customers.
(My new book, “Crack the Customer Mind Code” is available at the DirectMarketingIQ bookstore. Or download my free seven-step guide to help you align your messaging with how the primitive mind thinks. It’s titled “When You Need More Customers, This Is What You Do.” )
Reinventing Direct is for the direct marketer seeking guidance in the evolving world of online marketing. Gary Hennerberg is a mind code marketing strategist, based on the template from his new book, "Crack the Customer Mind Code." He is recognized as a leading direct marketing consultant and copywriter. He weaves in how to identify a unique selling proposition to position, or reposition, products and services using online and offline marketing approaches, and copywriting sales techniques. He is sought-after for his integration of direct mail, catalogs, email marketing, websites, content marketing, search marketing, retargeting and more. His identification of USPs and copywriting for clients has resulted in sales increases of 15 percent, 35 percent, and even as high as 60 percent. Today he integrates both online and offline media strategies, and proven copywriting techniques, to get clients results. Email him or follow Gary on LinkedIn. Co-authoring this blog is Perry Alexander of ACM Initiatives. Follow Perry on LinkedIn.