Don’t Have Much Of A Marketing Budget? Try These 9 Tips for Acquiring Customers For Free
Experts say there are many things you can do to promote your business with no marketing budget whatsoever – as long as your products or services provide real value. There’s no question that the trucks or construction equipment your dealership sells have value. The same is true for the parts and accessories you carry and the maintenance, repair and rental services you offer. So acquiring customers for free should be a snap, right?
OK, maybe not a snap. Promoting your dealership takes time. Whatever you do must be well-thought-out if you expect to get results. But while you’ve been busy implementing your planned marketing campaigns, it’s possible you haven’t had time to consider how to go about acquiring customers for free. So read on, and think about how these 9 tips might help augment your marketing budget.
There are two things you should keep in mind:
- Not all of these ideas apply to all of your marketing audience segments. But you don’t have to use them “as is.” Think of them as sparks — how could you adapt them to fit your dealership or a particular marketing objective? You don’t have to use all of them.
- As noted above, these tips are meant to augment your existing marketing plan. Acquiring customers for free sounds great, but you need a realistic marketing budget to keep your dealership competitive and top-of-mind with prospects and current customers.
- Make a list of online communities and other sites where people post questions or comments about topics relevant to your dealership. Then participate. Offering help or advice that solve problems for people identifies your dealership (and your team of experts) as a valuable resource. You’re building name familiarity and trust. Examples might include:
- Facebook groups
- LinkedIn groups
- Other niche forums specific to construction or trucking
- Expand word of mouth marketing by giving your fans and followers a little extra inspiration to share. You could:
- Reward them with a $1 discount for every Facebook or Twitter share
- Offer small giveaways
- Uses trivia quizzes to boost engagement
- Consider affiliate programs. Partnering with a related business is a great way to expand your reach without expanding your marketing budget. When someone buys from you as a response to your affiliate’s promotion, you pay the affiliate a fee. This requires accurate tracking, so you might want to invest in a tool such as Tapfilliate (small monthly cost).
- Reach out to industry bloggers and “YouTubers,” encouraging them to share your content with their audiences. Some businesses give free products as a reward, but that doesn’t work for your dealership. Instead, offer to promote their blog, YouTube videos, etc. to your audience.
- Make better use of guest blogging. Like #5 above, this is another free opportunity to share the wealth when it comes to quality content, and spread your name to new audiences. It goes both ways – offer your own guest blog articles to key relevant sites, and offer to publish their guest posts on your blog.
- Ask your friends and family for help spreading the word about your dealership. You take them for granted, don’t you? You assume they’re intimately familiar with everything you do or sell (are they?), yet you probably think of them as “unrelated” to your business. A few of them may be potential customers, but all of them have their own circle of friends, co-workers and social connections. Third-party referrals can be very profitable.
- Do you have a formal customer referral program? Your loyal customers are happy to sing your praises, so why not reward them, for sending business your way? Coordinate this with your loyalty reward program.
- Don’t neglect networking. Trade shows, local or regional speaking engagements, etc. are opportunities to showcase your “stuff” as well as your expertise.
- Some businesses trade products or services for testimonials, publicity or website backlinks. This may not work for your dealership, although you may be able to offer lower-cost giveaways such as branded merchandise or apparel.