20 Ways to Market Without Advertising

Posted on April 18, 2011

There comes a time when every entrepreneur needs more sales so they automatically turn to advertising. I’m not against advertising, but most businesses approach it like throwing darts while blindfolded. While advertising is a form of marketing, it’s almost the most expensive and least effective.


The following is a list of ideas to market your business inexpensively without advertising.

1. Podcasting

Podcasting is blogging in audio form. Consistency is very important so pick a schedule and stick to it. The average commute time in the US is about 25 minutes one-way and over 90 million people are alone in a car when they do it. Why don’t you give them something entertaining and educational to listen to?



As seen on Forbes, Mashable,

2. Answer the Phone

How is answering the phone considered marketing you ask? Customer interaction. Companies like Zappos have built billion dollar businesses off this model. Make sure everyone in your organization answers the phone quickly and is kind and courteous.

3. Put on a Conference

If you can pull together prospects who may be interested in your product or service, bring them together along with other experts to solve a problem they may have. You’ll be a hero and someone they’ll turn to for more help.

4. Attend a Conference

Talk to those attending and network. The real value of a conference is the connections you make so don’t just go to learn.

5. Respond in Forums

If you’re an expert (or know just a bit more than most people) get in the forums and help. Five people may see the discussion today, but thousands may see it over the coming years. It has a cumulative effect over time and only costs your time at the keyboard.

6. Create Good Stuff on Your Website

I gave away most of what I sold when I launched my business, and still do. Put your valuable stuff out there. It’s impressive and many will want more.

7. Partner with a Charity

I partnered with a charity in Haiti about a year before the big earthquake. They sponsored a webinar series I held over a three week period and received 100% of the proceeds. I taught the classes for free and they helped spread the word because they were invested in the outcome.

8. Use Direct Mail

Instead of blanketing homes with coupons, give away something for free. Perhaps a free download or a sample of your product. This could bring a lot of foot traffic to your business by people who wouldn’t otherwise know you exist.

9. Send Thank You Cards

I did a free day of coaching recently and then sent a thank you to every person I talked to. That’s 16 opportunities I had to connect with people on a deeper level.

10. Send Birthday Cards

Take advantage of any excuse to send a card. Random holidays, wedding anniversaries, or Christmas cards in June. Why do they have to be in the winter? Mail is unexpected now that everyone is online so blow people away with a stamp.

11. Issue a Press Release

Not as powerful as they once were,  but press releases are a great way to inform the press of interesting stories. Try not to make it about you but instead about someone who experienced your product or service and has a radical story as a result.

12. Help the Media

Better than sending press releases to people who don’t know you is getting to know the media and asking how you can help. What kind of story does each journalist prefer to write? Sending ideas makes their job easy.

13. Ask for Referrals

Yes, you need to ask. Most of us don’t spend our days trying to connect our friends with people who can help, though the world would be a better place if we did. Ask for referrals and you’ll find your best future clients.

14. Give Great Customer Service

Each time you touch a customer you have an opportunity for them to fall in love with you. When they do they’ll buy more and tell their friends.

15. Use Surveys

The best way to improve what you offer is to ask your customers what they like, didn’t like, and what they want more of. When you get answers, deliver results. Most people are honored to be asked.

16. Tell Your Story

We don’t do business with large faceless organizations. My about page is one of the top three most visited pages on my site. Tell a story and allow people to to connect with you on a deeper level. I use written words, audio, and video.

17. Be a Connector

John Bergquist is a connector. He’s spent years connecting people without gaining anything but trust. Being helpful facilitates the spread of your ideas. While not charging for it, I’m helping a very influential blogger get his video show converted to a podcast in iTunes. Think that favor could help me down the road?

18. Create a Community and Help Them

Every time you interact with people you’re representing your brand. Are you doing it in a way that people will talk about you to their friends?

19. Partner with Another Business

It’s a great way for both of you to get in front of a new audience. Write about each other in your blogs, interview each other on your podcasts, or teach a class together.

20. Do Something Amazing

Changing the world is tough but a great marketing tactic. You don’t need to attend a world peace summit; even recycling has it’s advantages.

When it comes down to it, you don’t need 20 marketing tactics; you need two or three good ones, and you have to own them. Find strategies that fit you and your business and do them better than anyone has ever done them before.

What are some other effective marketing strategies?

40 Replies to "20 Ways to Market Without Advertising"

  • Kristi Hines
    April 18, 2011 (2:38 pm)

    I would add send email. Creating a great email signature with tools like WiseStamp can go a long way towards getting exposure to your business with just about anyone you connect with.

    • Justin Lukasavige
      April 18, 2011 (2:42 pm)

      Great one, Kristi! I can’t believe how many people have commented on my signature over the years.

    • Jason Tweed
      April 19, 2011 (9:39 pm)

      Absolutely! My e-mail signature has generated tons of business even from casual contact. Reconnecting with old classmates through Facebook is great, but I always e-mail them directly. This lets me dangle my websites in front of them.

  • Dev
    April 18, 2011 (3:18 pm)

    Nice post.

    I would use social blogging communities like Blokube, Blogengage! It is great way to get quality traffic and connect with other bloggers!


    • Justin
      April 18, 2011 (3:23 pm)

      Cool, Dev. I hadn’t heard of either of them but I see you contribute over there. Thanks for pointing them out.

  • Dennis Edell@ Direct Sales Marketing
    April 18, 2011 (8:57 pm)

    Have you seen a real (financial) boost since partnering with the charity and having them spread the word of you?

    • Justin Lukasavige
      April 18, 2011 (8:59 pm)

      I partnered with that charity for a three week period and it was for a one-time event, Dennis. So I wasn’t able to do any split testing on it, but they gave me some fabulous promo to their market. It’s one I wouldn’t have been able to reach without them.

      • Dennis Edell@ Direct Sales Marketing
        April 19, 2011 (10:13 am)

        That’s what i meant. Do you know if any of that promo converted? Subscribers or purchases…

        • Justin
          April 19, 2011 (10:12 pm)

          Absolutely. I had quite a few people in the class I didn’t know. The call to action was to sign up for it.

          • Dennis Edell@ Direct Sales Marketing
            April 20, 2011 (11:48 am)

            That’s the way to do it!

  • David Guzman
    April 19, 2011 (12:29 am)

    Love that one of the 20 ways mentioned is to give great customer service. Often times we underestimate the word-of-mouth and future business value that investing time and effort into creating noteworthy customer experiences can lead to. As a rule of thumb, any project that I take on I strive to exceed quality expectations, deliver early & set forward a moment to make the experience for the client more memorable. This can be anything from offering a free one on one workshop with the software that I have used to produce a video for them or offering a book that I have read that I believe may aide them in their efforts. Taking the time to make the experience memorable is really everything!

    • Justin
      April 19, 2011 (8:54 am)

      That’s the thing, David. It takes time! Most people won’t do it though, so you’re already ahead.

  • June Young
    April 19, 2011 (3:36 am)

    This is really cool Justin. Truly it is advertising minus the expense! I guess there are really lots of ways to put your product out there if we only learn to explore them. Indeed the possibilities are endless and thank you for providing this list. I am sure a lot of people are interested in what you have to say so keep them coming!

    • Justin
      April 19, 2011 (8:58 am)

      Thanks for the encouragement, June. I love getting people to open their minds.

      Here’s how to get your picture here, but the way.


  • Extreme John
    April 19, 2011 (8:49 am)

    Birthday cards and thank you cards are huge. Once we grew to six locations we lost control of that personal touch, something I look forward to getting back as we shift our focus.

    • Justin
      April 19, 2011 (9:00 am)

      I can see how that’d be difficult with so many locations, John. I have no doubt you can scale it, though.

      I know of a car salesman (in the 1960s) who sent thousands of cards every month. That was before technology. 🙂

      • Extreme John
        April 19, 2011 (10:55 am)

        Ahhh life before technology…. brutal.

  • Samuel
    April 19, 2011 (10:22 am)

    Awesome post Justin! I will definitely do something that’s going to be amazing! 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing! You rock 🙂

    • Justin
      April 19, 2011 (10:30 am)

      Report back, Samuel, especially if you come up with more ideas.

  • Kalen
    April 19, 2011 (6:17 pm)

    Advertising is such a tiny part of marketing. Networking events are a great way to promote yourself too. I always try to go to mixers where I can give out business cards. Not only is it free promotion but you get to reach out to other connections from there. The free food makes it even more worthwhile.

    • Justin
      April 19, 2011 (8:41 pm)

      Great tip, Kalen. Advertising is so small that I avoid it altogether.

  • Jason Tweed
    April 19, 2011 (9:44 pm)

    Here’s an afterthought to #4 — Attend a Conference. I attend trade shows where companies I would like to do business with are on display. Their marketing people are focused on gathering contact information, so they are open to have conversations about my work. I’m selling to the salespeople. This doesn’t work in every industry, but it does for many B2B companies.

    • Justin
      April 19, 2011 (10:14 pm)

      I could see that as a great B2B strategy, Jason. Thanks for the addition!

  • Wes Towers@Graphic Design Melbourne
    April 21, 2011 (2:09 am)

    Great stuff as always, Justin. I especially like the sending of cards. I’m a great advocate of that as well and has just finished a book on it. Nothing really beats letting your customers know you appreciate them and care for them by sending personalised greeting cards during special occasions or just to say thank you. This cost-effective effort is possibly one of the best referral systems that can be used in marketing.

    Kudos for this article, mate!

    • Justin Lukasavige
      April 21, 2011 (1:24 pm)

      Thanks, Wes. I love sending cards, too. Takes some time but it’s well worth it.

  • Gia Saulnier
    April 21, 2011 (6:17 am)

    We run two events in MA that are fundraisers for two local charities (one is an Animal Sanctuary and the other is for Hammond Castle) that are Renaisssance Festivals.

    Since our budget is pretty much nothing for the farm, I have had to figure out ways of marketing these events for free with great success (so far), here are my tips:

    I found that finding my “tribe” or niche in that group of people is always helpful, plus to post on family sites as well.
    I also found that there are a lot of Free sites that you can post events on such as Guidezilla, Guidespot, Going.com as well as create Facebook fan pages, Blog pages to post about the performers we have (each week) and the vendors that are coming. I have a twitter page for each one and I also do side writing for other blog and ezines to get the word out.
    The most important thing for us to remember is that we want to strive for these events to be memorable, because we really want to continue doing them and want people to forget about their life for a little while and help great causes at the same time.
    Gia Saulnier
    Marketing Coordinator
    Winslowshire Festival for the Animals
    Abbadia Mare Festival

    • Justin Lukasavige
      April 21, 2011 (1:26 pm)

      Above and beyond. I love these tips, Gia! Sounds like they take some work but you don’t have much wrapped up in them money wise.

  • Kim C
    April 25, 2011 (2:15 am)

    I think all of these are terrific ideas. I’m a small business owner and often times we have so many hats on that we forget the simple stuff.

    Also if anyone here would like to see some info on the best way that I have found to compound on the “give great customer service” as it relates to sending birthday and thank you cards, feel free to contact me and I can set you up with a friend of mine who I believe to be very savvy!

  • Anita Scott
    April 25, 2011 (6:41 pm)

    Thankyou for such a great post.. Most of us know to answer the phone courteously, and you have reinforced my plans to give my valuable products away.. Expensive but is now definetly proving rewarding.. And as for many of the other tips, I have them noted to work on

    Anita Scott

  • Sietse
    May 1, 2011 (3:47 am)

    Great tips Justin! I totally agree with those friendly ways of interacting: promptly picking up the phone, sending cards, great customer service. All very important aspects of running a business!

    Cheers mate

  • Gloson
    May 2, 2011 (3:24 am)

    Hi Justin,

    Amazing post! These are some really great ways to market without advertising. In fact, some of the ways are even better than advertising. 🙂

    I really agree with #20 – do something amazing. If you do that, people will automatically share your stuff to their friends. 🙂


  • best seo blogging
    May 2, 2011 (3:31 am)

    Good to know these ways. I believe the most effective marketing strategy is to market without having the word “advertising”.

    Wow great list.

  • Bryan
    May 3, 2011 (6:55 am)

    Funny today I just saw something about businesses partnering with charity on the TV and I stumbled across this post with charity in it! Never actually thought of that but I suppose giving away things for charity gives you a big status boost apart from making yourself known to others you are also boosting your company brand.

  • evangelical christian
    May 28, 2011 (3:15 am)

    best comment

  • Naomi
    June 24, 2011 (6:44 am)

    As a customer, the thank you cards and birthday cards for some strange reason make a difference for me and definitely not many people are doign that anymore esp. with social media its a touch of personal. I really liked the idea of partnering with local community and partnering with a charity i never thought of that one. Cheers!

  • Nick Smith
    July 6, 2011 (10:04 pm)

    Thanks for this article. I really enjoyed it!

  • Gia Volterra De Saulnier
    August 3, 2011 (12:30 pm)

    I posted on the blog site, but if you like I can repeat what I posted there. Just let me know 😉

  • Gia Volterra De Saulnier
    August 3, 2011 (12:30 pm)

    I posted on the blog site, but if you like I can repeat what I posted there. Just let me know 😉

  • EpicLaunch
    August 3, 2011 (12:30 pm)

    Saw your comment, great job, thanks!

  • EpicLaunch
    August 3, 2011 (12:30 pm)

    Saw your comment, great job, thanks!

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