1 Being Aggressive and Confident as You Market for Free
You can be a high-energy marketer, and you can do it for free. Your marketing can propel you to gloriously high profits, and you can do it for free. You can become well known for your nonstop, clearly visible marketing, and you can do it for free.
If you can produce a circular at the cost of a dime, that’s not free and has no place in this book. If you can run a newspaper ad for only five bucks, that’s not free either. So you won’t be reading about it in the upcoming pages.
In fact, the only money you’ll have to spend is money you’ve probably invested already. That means you’ll need a telephone, a computer, a printer, a supply of plain paper, access to the Internet, and business cards. If you have those, you can toss away your checks, file away your credit cards, put your cash into a piggy bank, and still market like a tiger. Or rather, a guerrilla.
You’re a guerrilla. That means you know what marketing can and cannot do. It means you realize the importance of marketing to your bottom line. It means you understand the vital need to maintain visibility and market with all your might. But not with all your money. Not with any of your money.
Guerrilla marketing for free is powerfully effective even though it costs you nary a cent. It can cause the competition to quake in their Nikes, even if they’re spending advertising money as though it’s going to expire. It wins customers, maintains their loyalty, builds a business, and increases— never decreases —your bank account.
Too good to be true, right? But it is true. Even more remarkable is the fact that the vast majority of your competitors haven’t a clue that they can market so formidably without spending money. Even when they become increasingly aware of your marketing and your success, they still won’t have a clue that you’re doing it all for free. Unless you tell them or they discover this book, they’ll remain clueless while you frolic about in clover. Well, not exactly frolic, because you don’t really get good stuff without hard work. But your entire opinion, degree of control, and satisfaction with the process of marketing will be transformed once you discover—then cash in on— the abundance of free marketing options in these pages and in your future.
You’re not going to learn any gimmicks or shady ways to attract customers and prospects. You’re not going to be given a cornucopia of complex tasks. You’re not going to be served up tactics that will make you feel like a pioneer. We all know that pioneers get arrows in the back of the neck, so your selection here of no-cost tactics is limited to those that have proven themselves in battle and can’t hurt anyone except those who would dare to compete with a guerrilla.
Because you can rely on tactics that have consistently earned profits in the past, you can feel optimistic about how they’ll work for you. Ideally, you’ll get into the habit of marketing, making it as much a part of your daily routine as flossing.
Some of the one hundred free tactics you can use are things, such as marketing plans and testimonials. Some are places, such as Internet chat rooms and community bulletin boards. Others are concepts, such as competitive advantages and sales training. Some are attitudes, like aggressiveness and flexibility. Still others are people, such as fusion marketing partners and satisfied customers. Many are hard to categorize, such as viral marketing and speeches for community clubs.
But they all have five things in common: They take your time.
They must be done right.
They require energy—mostly, but not exclusively, mental.
They are deceptively simple.
They earn profits for guerrillas. Always have. Always can.
Instead of making money your prime marketing asset, this book is devoted to using your marketing enlightenment, your intensity, your assertiveness, and your resourcefulness. None of those attributes cost you anything. But they give you marketing firepower that money can’t buy.
You can and should utilize many of these tactics at the same time. But you never should feel as though you’ve got too much going on. Guerrillas are rarely in a hurry and proceed at a pace that keeps them in total control even with a lot going on. Because their marketing efforts all follow a plan and a calendar, guerrilla marketing for free makes order out of chaos and profits out of effort.
Guerrillas strive for conventional goals and attain them through unconventional means. Guerrilla marketing sets profits as the goal and provides a plethora of overlooked yet industrial- strength strategies to attain them. You hold in your capitalistic hands an even more unconventional method of mmarketing —going at it full bore without spending money.
Be assured, this is not your father’s marketing. This is marketing that will enable you to mmmmmake drastic reductions in your budget while developing a fiery aura as a business owner. I sure hope that all my own fire and enthusiasm is making you eager to get started. Getting started is half the battle. Continuing with it is the other half.
But take a deep breath and hang back a bit before you begin. I’ve devoted the entire next chapter to the tactics you must bring to life before you start to market for free. I want you to know where you’re heading and what you want to get for yourself. I want you to aim for both profits and balance in your life. These tactics are not presented solely to fill your vault. They are also designed to free up some of your time for things other than business, other than profits, other than marketing. Life comes first. Business, profits, and marketing are further down the list.
Now that we’re clear on priorities, let’s get back to what you must do before you flex your marketing muscles. As I demonstrate in chapter 2, knowing your destination is a crucial part of your marketing journey. Moving at the right pace is another. You must be clear on key marketing insights to be successful. Before taking one step into the fabled land of free marketing, you must know certain characteristics of your prospects and customers and of your business—beyond what it says on your card. Just as a wagon needs four wheels to move forward, you’re going to need four wheels too. In guerrilla marketing the four wheels are a name, a niche, a theme, and a meme. Armed with the intellectual inventory you need to make before you launch your free foray, you’re poised for action. But wait! There’s more.
Chapter 3 tells you what you must know while you market for free. Besides the knowledge you need to acquire before you begin your marketing assault, you’ve got to conduct that assault knowing your goals, your market, and certainly some fundamental details about your customers.
As people are finding out, sometimes a bit too rudely, the age of the lone-wolf business owner is over—gone with the wind and the innocence. A vast number of potential allies are waiting to combine forces with you. But where in the world will you find them? Look no further than chapter 4, whose pages are loaded for bear with allies who can help you market, who want to help you market, and who will help you market. Enlisting their aid is paramount. Paying them is unnecessary. Think of all your customers and you’ll begin to realize that there are allies all around you.
Once you’re armed to launch your program and know what to do while it’s under way, you must decide where all of this no-cost, high-energy marketing is going to take place. Chapter 5 is where you’ll survey the terrain, get a fix on the geography, and zero in on the bull’s-eyes. It’s reassuring to know there’s more than one. This chapter is chock-full of bull’s-eyes, along with weapons to help you score them—zero-cost ways to market the right way in the right places.
With the basics in place, you’ll be ready to get into the nitty-gritty of marketing for free. Chapter 6 teems with fine points and details on just that topic. It shines a bright light on your community, your target audiences, the Internet, trade shows, and a whole lot more.
Just when you’re thinking it’s time to start engaging in serious guerrilla marketing for free, chapter 7 counsels and encourages you to give things away for free. Pretty astonishing that you can market for free while giving things away. Don’t the things you give away cost money to buy? Nope. This book is called Guerrilla Marketing for Free, so the tactics don’t cost you a penny, not even the tactics that call for you to be as generous as the rich uncle you wish you had. One of the most power-packed and effective tactics is free consultations. How much money does that cost you? None. Better question: How much money can that earn for you?
Chapter 8 is about you—and the personality characteristics I’m hoping you already have that will help your marketing for free pay rich dividends. Truth be told, if you lack these traits, you may need a personality transplant.
Chapter 9 is about actions you must take to capitalize on the time you’ll spend reading this book. If you don’t take them, you probably shouldn’t be reading this.
Okay, let’s stop talking about you and talk instead about the people who will be your customers. This is the twenty-first century, and they are a more demanding lot than their predecessors. But if you’re a guerrilla, you can meet and exceed their demands by understanding what it is they want. One of those things is quality.
There are two crucial lessons to learn about quality right from the get-go. The first is that quality is the number-two reason people patronize a business, ranking just behind confidence in the business and just ahead of service. The second lesson is that quality is not what you put into your product or service, but what your customers get out of it.
You should also be aware that quality is now the price of succeeding at business. Without it, guerrilla marketing will just speed the demise of your operation, because more people will learn of your shabby quality faster and less expensively than ever. I hate to be the first one to tell you this, but marketing is a waste of money if you offer poor-quality goods or services.
These days customers equate every aspect of your business with not only the quality of your product but how well you treat people. So it’s a good idea for you to do the same. Deep down, I’m hoping that you can skip this part because you know it all already, but just in case . . . you’ve got to remember that people assume you have a quality business and then are quick to recognize any lack of it. In addition, your quality will help you compare what you offer to what your competitors offer. It will juice up your word-of-mouth marketing. It will nourish all your other marketing. If you have the best quality in the universe, hardly anybody will know about it unless your marketing informs them of it. If they already suspect it, your marketing will reassure them that buying from you is the way to go.
Guerrilla marketing does sell products and services. But it sells them only once. It’s the high quality you offer that brings in the repeat and referral sales. That same quality makes life easier for those who sell what you offer. The lowest prices on earth won’t rescue you from poor quality. The speediest service and widest selection won’t protect you from the ravages of poor quality.
Along with quality, you’ve got to be armed with a storehouse of knowledge about your customers and prospects. “It is better to know something about your spouse than everything about marriage.” So goes the old adage that has withstood the test of time because it contains such a core truth. Here’s a newer adage: “The least expensive way to make more money and grow faster is to be perceived as a service leader.” A marketing truism is that a small business that heavily emphasizes customer service is more likely to survive and succeed than competitors that emphasize lower price, convenience, speed of delivery, or product performance.
There are billions of people out there who don’t meet that buying criterion. One of your tasks is to direct no marketing at them. If you go about it right, all of your marketing will be directed only at people who meet those lofty standards. Guerrillas focus their energies on establishing relationships that lead to sales over a long period of time. One-time sales are worthless unless you sell multimillion-dollar products and services.
Almost all business owners are aware that 80 percent of their sales come from 20 percent of their customers. Guerrilla business owners seek only customers who will be part of that lucrative 80 percent. Not a simple task, but not impossible either. I promise you that it is worth the effort.
How does price fit into the guerrilla marketing equation? Let’s cut right to the chase. Value is far more crucial than price. And perceived value is far more crucial than actual value. People will pay higher prices for products and services that deliver more quality for the buck. And they’ll pay higher prices still for products and services that they believe to deliver more quality for the buck. If this were not so, Rolls-Royce would be out of business and Ferrari would be long gone.
I have a boatload of business books, many on the topic of marketing. I’m floored at how few discuss the significance of value, especially of perceived value. I think that these books are too wrapped up in the concepts of quality and service, excellence and teamwork, statistics and technology—so wrapped up that they’re taking their eye off the ball. The ball is the value that the customer thinks he or she is getting. It doesn’t have much to do with price. It has a lot to do with perception. Guerrillas are cognizant that perception is reality.
Many experts believe that value is simply the difference between anticipated price and the price asked. In this definition— a good one—there is no difference between value and perceived value. That’s a bright observation because it takes into account that perception reigns supreme.
The secret, then, is to control the anticipated price. You may not have much to say about the actual price—production and materials are somewhat out of your control. But anticipated price? That’s up to you. You can raise the price anticipation with your reputation, the presentation of your offering, even with your marketing copy and graphics. If your offering is carried in expensive stores, people will expect your price to be higher. They’ll also be influenced by your stationery, your address, your office décor, and your attire.
A restaurant with soft candlelight and romantic music charges more for meals than a harshly lit cafeteria with the sound of dishes clacking in the background. The cost of the food ingredients, the cooking, and the refrigeration is the same at both restaurants. But the perception of value is raised by lighting, music, and décor. The world’s best marketing can enhance your reputation and build your credibility, but it can’t do beans for your lighting and décor. If you lack the trappings of obvious quality, your perceived value can still be enhanced by virtue of the copy and visuals of brilliant marketing.
A whopping one hundred tactics that enable you to market for free represent a profusion of opportunities. You should be relatively blown away when you learn how many methods you can use to put your name in the forefront of your prospects’ minds. You may be slightly embarrassed that you haven’t yet employed these tactics. And try as you might to find hidden costs, you’ll come up empty and realize that these no-cost methods truly are effective ways to market.
In some of my past Guerrilla Marketing books, I’ve presented one hundred different marketing weapons, then advised readers to be aware of all one hundred, to try many of them, and to eliminate those that do not prove their efficacy on the front lines.
In Guerrilla Marketing for Free, I’m presenting one hundred different marketing tactics, advising you to be aware of all one hundred, and then urging you to try every single one of them and keep trying them. They’re all going to work for you, and we don’t even have to get into that silly conversation about getting a bang for your buck. This book is about the bang but not about the buck.
Although guerrilla marketing for free is fun if you do it right—and this is the place to learn to do it right—it is not a game. It is a serious way to help your business succeed. What does success look like? Your business is prospering, all the sounds of the earth are like music, and you are not paying the piper. Not with money. Not with stress. You now have my official permission to be eager once again. Be eager to glean the information I’m offering. Be eager to win the race without paying the entry fee. Be eager to guerrilla-market for free.
Copyright © 2003 by Jay Conrad Levinson. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company.