Canadian Pizza Magazine

Shoestring marketing: Where to save and where not

By George Torok   

Features Business and Operations Marketing

Where to save and where not

Time to save money on your marketing? How can you do that and still get effective results?
First, avoid five big mistakes that many make. Then use the nine techniques waiting for you below.

Time to save money on your marketing? How can you do that and still get effective results?

First, avoid five big mistakes that many make. Then use the nine techniques waiting for you below.

In your attempt to save costs don’t cut in these areas:


Never try to save money by cutting the value of your product to your customer. If you reduce value they will expect a corresponding price reduction at the very least.

Never sacrifice quality to save money. Be clear on what quality means to your customers.

The best definition of quality is “meeting expectations.” Your customers got quality if they got what they expected.

Quality is neither about price nor cost. Saturn, Toyota and Rolls-Royce are all quality cars.

Never try to save money by making your customers wait longer. They will never have more time.

Cheapest deal
Going cheap is not a good way to save money. Cheap looks and feels cheap.

Don’t send your marketing messages that feel cheap. Instead pick your marketing channels and hunt for the best deal – not the cheapest.

There is no point in printing your business cards on the cheapest paper.

Core benefit
Never trim from the core benefit of your product in your attempt to save money. Whatever the main reason they buy your product – don’t you dare reduce that. That is like cutting bone.

You can use these methods to help you save money on your marketing:

The oldest form of commerce – trade food for animal hides.

You can try two approaches to barter. You can trade directly with your supplier or customer. For example, you might trade some of your product with a publisher for ad space in their publication. The drawback to this form of barter is that you both must want and need what the other has.

You might barter the whole amount or have a mixed deal of cash and barter.

Another form of barter is through one of the many barter companies. They form a relationship with many companies. Any one of the barter group can buy your product with their barter dollars. You can then spend those barter dollars with some other member of the barter group to buy what you need.

If you are part of a larger group such as a franchise you can get advertising subsidy from your franchiser to help you promote their name and your business.

Grocery stores and bookstores also use this technique to get money from their suppliers to allocate premium shelf space to those who pay for it. If you sell or distribute for a manufacturer you might be able to arrange co-op support from them.

Ask customers
This is so simple that many overlook it. Ask your customers what they’ve noticed that you could eliminate that has no significant value to them.

For example, I noticed my local bank renovating the branch every few years. That added zero value to me. I wished they would stop it.

Buy when others are not
Buy your marketing services when demand is low. Most printers are very slow in July and August. If you offer to buy at that time you might get a lower price, faster service or even more value.

A company president was planning a national conference in a prime location. He asked a big hotel, “When is your slowest week of the year?” He then offered to book that week for his conference and asked for a deal. He got it and they got the business.

Share a promotion with another company that also markets to your customers. You can split the costs of your promotion.

You can offer to promote their product at your business while they do the same for you. You can offer your product as a prize in their contest promotion. You might trade referrals or give testimonials for each other.

Work with a charity
You could donate time, product or resources to a charity. They might recognize you in their signage, printed material or with a nice letter.

When you work with a charity you benefit from the goodwill you create among your customers and the community. You might also get some free media coverage in the process.

You can get more from your marketing if you just negotiate with your suppliers and customers.

Negotiation is a skill not a talent so it can be learned and honed. Read a few good books and take a course on negotiation to become a superior negotiator. You will learn the different gambits, styles and strategies of negotiating.

Be creative
Look for unusual promotions in other industries and find a way to make them work for you.

Being creative does not mean being original. Borrow ideas from around you. The best way to get creative ideas about your business is to talk to people who know nothing about your business.

Offer something more important than money.

You might save on your marketing by offering your suppliers and customers something that they value more than money.

What could that be? Depending on their situation it could be using your name as a reference, access to information, exposure to new markets, referrals, new technology, time to relax, etc.

Spend carefully and be creative in stretching your shoestring marketing budget.

George Torok is co-author of the national bestseller, “Secrets of Power Marketing”, the first guide to personal marketing for the non-marketer. Buy the book from most bookstores or order at To arrange a training program or inspirational speech from George Torok call 905-335-1997. To receive your free guide, “50 Power Marketing® Ideas”, and subscribe to monthly marketing tips visit

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