“You don’t need a big one to be happy.” — Mini Cooper Ad


What’s your marketing budget?

It’s probably a closely guarded secret; very likely the actual figure has never been totalled up. Whatever it is, many businesses believe that If only they had more to spend they’d be able to make a bigger impact. For instance, $10,000 might buy you attendance at one conference and net you one customer. Or you could invest that $10,000 in Facebook advertising and gain 10,000 likes – but how many of those will turn into an actual customer?

Or even 100,000 customers?

Crazy Egg, the online heat-mapping company managed to build up their user base to over 100,000 people with a marketing budget of just $10,000. While they had a great product with a free plan, $10,000 doesn’t go far without careful planning.

So how did they make their marketing budget so effective?

Step 1: finding their audience

The first step was smart media buys, coupled with a clear understanding of their idea customer base – web designers. While they had a pre-launch landing page to collect email addresses, low traffic volumes to their site encouraged them to identity where web designers were likely to be visiting in high numbers on a daily basis (web design galleries), where they negotiated better advertising rates. By launch, this netted them 20,000 email addresses. They also showcased their new site on these galleries, capturing another 25,000 visitors.

Step 2: wield some influence

Next, they targeted influencers from major tech news sites and bloggers with a ‘What’s In It For Me’ offer; a free $99 plan to play with, plus (and this is the WIIFM) working with them to trial the service and recommended improvements to their sites. Spending time proving the pudding paid off, with bloggers then happy to write from a personal perspective about their improved site conversion,

Step 3: forming strong partnerships

Finally, they employed a B2B sales tactic and identified tangentially connected companies with existing customer bases to partner with, offering a free account to each of their users.

Simple, low cost, but carefully thought out.

A small marketing budget means low creative impact though, right?

Not necessarily, if you consider this campaign to promote the Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s production of Sunday in the Park with George.  With only $10,000 to spend, they needed to consider carefully where to find and how to engage potential visitors – so they turned to art forgery:

The play attracted a high number of first time guests, and the play’s run was extended due to ticket demand (and a great deal of creativity that charmed theatre-going Chicagoans).

Perhaps you could just make more use of the media you can afford with your marketing budget instead?

Depending on your brand and target market, a billboard in a high traffic area could be a great use of $10,000; but you’re limited to a recommended maximum of 8 or so words – or are you? Ikea recently produced a billboard that turned 9 square metres of billboard into 27 square metres allowing it to display 3 different messages at one time:

Now that’s flat pack!