Introduction to Frugal Marketing

Frugal marketing is the idea that you don't have to spend a lot of money to be an effective marketer. In fact, you'll often be a better marketer if you spend less. And by keeping costs down, you'll be profitable sooner!

This article (and the one that follows) is a "living example" of one frugal marketing strategy: that you can write a page whose main goal is to be "found" when people look for certain terms--that you can get publicity on the Internet through a keyword-rich page, and still make it useful for a human reader. If it reads a bit stilted, that's why. This is why specific phrases such as press releases, publicity on the Internet, newspaper and magazine articles, and Internet discussion groups come up over and over again. But making a page that's friendly to robotic spiders is only one small part of the mix.

The frugal marketing approach includes free publicity in the media: Using press releases (news releases), pitch letters, and other strategies to get positive media coverage in newspaper and magazine articles (not to mention online publicity through the thousands of Internet publications) or free airtime on broadcast media.

Frugal marketing uses online publicity strategies such as participation in Internet discussion groups and mailing lists, one-to-one e-mail, seeding articles, and of course, an inexpensive but effective Internet domain and website.

Frugal marketing means being a "guerrilla" at trade shows, walking the floor for contacts instead of exhibiting--and spending little or no money.

And frugal marketing covers a lot more. The more you spend time at this site, the more you'll learn about making your marketing dollar work harder and stretch farther. Low costs. Great results. Doesn't that sound like a sensible approach to marketing?

If some of the notorious Internet dot-bombs had followed the principles of frugal marketing, they might still be around, enjoying a high ROI. If had used frugal marketing techniques more extensively, the company could have been profitable at least three years before it finally had a quarter "in the black," in the 4th quarter of 2001. In 1998, for instance, the company's marketing cost was $133 million; its overall loss was "only" $124.5 million. Just replacing 10% of its wildly inflated marketing budget with frugal methods would have turned that huge loss into a $4 million profit!

Instead of such expensive strategies as banner ads, amazon could have been actively participating in online discussion groups. Amazon did use news releases, but was most successful only in getting coverage on the business page, rather than in newspaper and magazine articles that targeted the general reader--its real customer.

This site offers over 200 resources for frugal marketers--including the complete archive of Shel Horowitz's Monthly Frugal Marketing Tips (which I've written every month since May, 1997), as well as excerpts from the frugal marketing bible: Grassroots Marketing: Getting Noticed in a Noisy World (a Finalist for ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year Award). Like the site (but in much more detail), the book tells you how to get free publicity through media coverage, Internet discussion groups, media you make and distribute yourself, and much more.

I submit that by using such strategies as Internet discussion groups and mailing lists, free publicity in the media, and a guerrilla approach to such traditional marketing activities as advertising, direct mail and trade shows, that many businesses can grow and prosper with a ridiculously low marketing budget. In my book, I actually demonstrate how a business could succeed with a marketing budget as small as ten dollars. Of course, it's easier with more, but it can be done. When the media contact you after you write a great news release and you see that free publicity in newspaper and magazine articles, you can just smile while others wonder how you did it.

Welcome. Stay as long as you like. Enjoy. And learn how to be a marketing success with a minimalist budget.

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