Piggyback Marketing With A Zero Budget

March 9, 2008


Piggyback marketing is essential to most new businesses, as they’re usually bootstrapping. So the need to find low cost marketing methods is vital. But how do you get started in piggyback marketing, when your marketing budget low is zero?

In, a recent article I pointed out the benefits of subcontracting to other businesses, so that you’re able to offer a wider range of services to your existing customers and make additional profits for yourself.

But, if your marketing budget is low, you can also do this the opposite way round and piggyback on the marketing efforts of other businesses. You simply approach businesses who have customers with similar needs and persuade them that they can profit and attract more customers by offering your services to their customers.

Even Freelancers Can Benefit From Piggyback Marketing

Christine OKelly has profited by using this approach as a freelancer writer. In this article, she explains how she got $100,000 of work with zero marketing costs by persuading SEO companies to offer her copywriting services to existing customers. If you’re a freelance writer and you’d like to profit by following Christine’s piggyback marketing methods, you should check out her excellent e-book, which shows you how to do it.

Use These Piggyback Marketing Tips For Your Business

When choosing piggyback marketing partners, identify businesses who have a similar customer base to you and would benefit by offering your service to their customers.

Put together a letter or email to send to potential piggyback marketing partners. Explain why they would benefit from offering your services - eg. Attract more customers by offering a more comprehensive profit and ability to mark the work up and make an additional profit of 20-25% on the work you do.

Be persistent - write to potential piggyback marketing partners more than once and consider following up with a phone call.

Remember that you can reduce your charges because you don’t have to spend anything on piggyback marketing. So you’ll still be competitive, even after the other business has added their mark-up to your price.


Your Competitors Can Even Be Piggyback Marketing Partners

When you’re looking for piggyback marketing partners, don’t rule out those businesses that seem to offer the same services as you - particularly the national companies. Many are able to offer nationwide coverage because they farm out work to small business like yours. Partnering with them could give you a head start in your piggyback marketing ventures, so, it’s important to do your research.

For example, a nationwide building company in the UK has a contract to carry out all insurance work for one of the major insurance companies. They don’t have the coverage to carry out this work themselves, so they simply farm it out to smaller businesses.

Many nationwide businesses operate like this, as it’s extremely difficult to cover such a wide area. For example, one of our best competitors wrote to us and asked us to cover this area for them. It was a good piggyback marketing opportunity for us, as it meant quite a bit more work.

And it was beneficial to them, because they could ensure they wouldn’t let their customers down. Also, they were unable to beat our Google Adwords, or organic search results for this area, so piggyback marketing was a smart move.

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13 Responses to “Piggyback Marketing With A Zero Budget”

  1. Ian Denny on March 9th, 2008 8:29 pm

    This is a great tip. I’ve done this before and it works wonders, and it’s a timely reminder to consider it again in the near future.

    One thing to be slightlty careful with is reciprocal business. Often the people you approach may say “yes, I’ll do it, but can you do the same for me?”.

    The problem is, you may not be able to. If you approach say 10 companies from a particular sector, you’re going to end up showing favouritism if you agree to reciprocate, and it could damage your relationship when inevitably they discover you’re referring one of the others, or worse still promoting them on your web-site.

    So you need to think of good reasons why you can’t reciprocate in advance so you are prepared. The last thing you want to do is to say “yes” to the first one who asks and then be compromised when the second says the same.

    Anyone else got a good answer to this challenge?

    I’ll have to go check out the e-book in case it’s in there….

    Ian Denny’s last blog post..Blog Authors - How To Get More Comments Per Visitor

  2. cathlawson on March 9th, 2008 10:49 pm

    Hi Ian - that is a good point and it would make it more difficult.

    What I would do, instead of spreading yourself too thinly is to concentrate on forging relationships with only one or two businesses in each industry. I think anything more and you’re really diluting your efforts.

    Perhaps the only negative aspect of doing business this way, for people living in the UK at least is that those who you subcontract to must remove the tax before paying you, which can be a pain for cashflow purposes.

    cathlawson’s last blog post..Piggyback Marketing With A Zero Budget

  3. John Hoff on March 10th, 2008 1:28 am

    This is common practice on smaller scales as well. For example, I am part owner of a landscape company and much of our business comes from networking with other companies.

    We have networked with a company that only installs synthetic grass here in Las Vegas, nothing else. They found us online, fell in love with our website, and decided we were the ones they wanted to offer landscaping services through.

    We’ve given them a lot of business and visa versa. None of this marketing has cost us anything aside from doing our normal business.

    Of course, like you guys mentioned, though, you have to be careful to not screw up that relationship. This obviously wouldn’t work well if we made this deal with multiple synthetic grass companies.

    John Hoff’s last blog post..The Art of Persuasion (Part 3 of 3): 7 Tips To Sharpening Your Persuasive Skills

  4. Barbara on March 10th, 2008 6:33 am

    Hi Catherine,

    I agree, this is a great idea.

    We do something similar to John, We often get big jobs, or an excavator friend gets one, and we will subcontract parts of it to each other (or sometimes work side by side). If it’s time and materials, it’s easy to calculate and bill out,. However, if it’s a bid , some details do have to be worked out prior to starting the job.

    We’ve had it happen too, where someone gets in a bind and can’t do a job, (for whatever reason), and they will “give us the contract”", either for free or for a small fee. From there on, we are responsible for the complete job (and of course the customer is advised of the change).

    If you can fill a niche for someone else, or vise versa, it’s a win-win for everyone.

    Barbara’s last blog post..Spammers Hit The Jackpot

  5. cathlawson on March 10th, 2008 7:32 am
    Hi John - that is an excellent example of how it works. And as you say, it is far better to concentrate on the one relationship.

    Hi Barbara - it works out well doesn’t it? It’s better because you don’t have to try to do the things you don’t specialise in yourself. And as you say everyone wins because the job gets done well and both parties can profit from it.

    By the way - there was supposed to be a picture with this post and I don’t know what went wrong - I think wordpress ate it. It was a frog piggybacking another frog, which I thought was great, but Stuart pointed out, it wasn’t actually giving it a piggyback!

  6. John Hoff on March 10th, 2008 1:21 pm

    maybe your blog doesn’t like frogs. ;)
    John Hoff’s last blog post..The Art of Persuasion (Part 3 of 3): 7 Tips To Sharpening Your Persuasive Skills

  7. Bob Younce on March 10th, 2008 6:11 pm

    Another excellent and insightful post, Cath!

    In many ways, this goes back to the old value-add marketing discussion. Because a particular business provides something unique, even the competitors don’t feel threatened, and can utilize that business in a partnering-type relationship.

    Here’s one more thought to add to the mix, as well:

    If you have a substantial customer base, finding subcontractors to provide another value-add to your business will increase customer loyalty and add to your bottom line. Making certain that the subs produce a quality product is essential here, though; you’re putting your reputation on the line.

    Bob Younce’s last blog post..Writing Around the Web - March 9, 2008

  8. cathlawson on March 10th, 2008 10:14 pm
    LOL John - maybe it thought they were X rated.

    Hi Bob - thank you. That is also a great idea and the more you can offer you’re customers the more they’re likely to use you, as opposed to other businesses. I blogged about something similar a few days ago. Sorry - I should have provided the link. It’s: http://cathlawson.com/blog/2008/03/06/business-publicity/

  9. Christine O'Kelly on March 12th, 2008 6:58 am

    Wonderful article Catherine! (thanks so much for the link) I can speak from experience in saying that what you suggest here absolutely works. I build my entire freelance business model around this strategy and it has kept me going for more than 2 years. Great advice!

    Christine O’Kelly’s last blog post..How I Sold Millions of Dollars of Intangible Products in a Highly Competitive Market

  10. cathlawson on March 12th, 2008 7:17 am
    Hi Christine - you’re welcome. I’d written an article about subcontracting work to others: http://cathlawson.com/blog/2008/03/09/piggyback-marketing-with-a-zero-budget/
    and Hunter told me about your article, so it inspired me to write this one, about doing it the other way round.

    I think your ebook will save many freelancers from getting stung on Google Adwords. It is a far more complex way to advertise than people realise. I know one woman who visits this blog lost around $7000 on an Adwords campaign that flopped!

  11. Tyffani on April 1st, 2008 10:45 pm

    Great Info. Collaborating with other contractors/vendors is way to work smart at marketing. It is definately a way to keep marketing expenses down. I found a report on marketing ideas that not only keep expenses low, but pay you in the process. Overall I think that we all have to remember to commit to whatever works and have patience..

    Tyfanni - I removed the link as it went to an error page. Catherine

  12. 47 Brilliant Blog Marketing Resources on September 7th, 2008 5:46 am

    [...] Fields explains why insanity might be your best weapon when it comes to marketing your blog. Piggyback Marketing On A Zero Budget: Are you struggling to raise enough cash to market your blog effectively? Don’t worry, you can [...]

  13. 47 Brilliant Blog Marketing Resources | Free Online Business Course on September 10th, 2008 4:01 am

    [...] Fields explains why insanity might be your best weapon when it comes to marketing your blog. Piggyback Marketing On A Zero Budget: Are you struggling to raise enough cash to market your blog effectively? Don’t worry, you can [...]

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