No Budget Marketing: Everything You Need to Know

No Budget Marketing: Everything You Need to Know

As a small entrepreneur, I am always curious to see how I can be better at marketing and make it cheaper or even free. Therefore, the title No Budget Marketing of Jos Burgers’ (Dutch) book appealed to me. Unfortunately, the book was published in 2006, the year Facebook became available to everyone instead of to universities only and Twitter was founded. I do not need to give a history lesson on the advent of social media and social networks here. We all know about it. Burgers often mentions websites and comparison sites, but social media has now made customers more empowered and independent, and it has decreased the distance between customers and companies. Yet this book has some tips that are still relevant to us today.

No Budget Marketing: Everything You Need to Know

What is no budget marketing?

No budget marketing is about finding and keeping customers by using their unique experiences and those of others instead of advertising. It is important to look for ambassadors who provide brand awareness and new, high-quality customers through word-of-mouth. Nowadays, this makes us think about user-generated content on the company website or a comparison site, like the reviews on, or a Tweet.

It is a spontaneous form of promotion as opposed to an assisted or directed version, such as low budget marketing or budget marketing. The less money one puts into marketing, the more the consumer trusts the message. You trust your own experience and that of a friend more than a message from the company.

Reaching goals with no budget marketing

According to Burgers, the following six marketing and communication goals are to be achieved with no budget marketing:

  1. Brand awareness and a good image
  2. Preference over competitors and the willingness to contact you
  3. Purchase intention and willingness
  4. Customer retention
  5. More sales to the same customers
  6. Withstanding price pressure from customers, or wider margins

These are not necessarily the goals belonging strictly to no budget marketing; rather, they are general goals to be achieved in many marketing campaigns. To reach these goals, you need the five pillars of no budget marketing.

The five pillars of no budget marketing

To have a strategy with no budget marketing succeed, Burgers offers five principles:

  1. Provide distinctive customer value
  2. Exceed customer expectations
  3. Invest in ambassadors
  4. Make the first encounter unforgettable
  5. Let potential customers build up experience with you

Distinctive customer value and customer satisfaction

To provide distinctive customer value, you must meet the five basic requirements for customer value: the requirement of uniqueness, sustainability, profitability, feasibility, and appropriateness.

According to Burgers, your customer is only satisfied if he/she grades you with a 7/10, but he/she will go to another company in case of a better offer. With an 8/10, your customer is very happy and he/she sees no reason to leave. With a 9/10 or 10/10, your customer is extremely happy and he/she spontaneously advertises your company, product or service. The customer thus has to be fully convinced before he/she becomes an ambassador for your product, service or company. After all, the reputation of the customer is at stake: friends, family, acquaintances, and colleagues do not appreciate a bad suggestion.

How do you exceed customer expectations?

To get ambassadors, you will have to exceed the expectations of your customers. How do you do that? Burgers provides an overview of four possibilities.

  1. Truly helping customers, even if it is at the expense of your own results
  2. Focusing on the problems of the customer
  3. Surprising customers with sincere attention
  4. Rewarding and appreciating customers

I feel that especially number 2 and 3 are more or less expected nowadays rather than that it makes the customers feel like their expectations are exceeded. If your product or service is not satisfactory, the customer will let you know. You can only hope the customer will let you know privately rather than publicly on Facebook or Twitter.

Four tips to get more out of no budget marketing

If all goes well, you will notice some positive effects once you have mastered the five pillars of no budget marketing. Customer satisfaction should increase, the number of customers leaving you and price sensitivity should decrease, customers should buy more from you and new customers should arrive. According to Burgers, there are ways to get even more out of no budget marketing:

1. Have a direct conversation with your customers.

Here are some examples of how you could do this. Use research methods such as a customer satisfaction survey. Listen to employees who experience what a customer experiences. If you are a manager, pretend to be a customer at your own company.

2. Seize the opportunities that complaints provide.

Taking away dissatisfaction is the least you can do. You want customers to give word-of-mouth, so make sure the complaint turns into a compliment. Please note though that about 80% of consumers do not complain! According to the Dutch financial paper FD of March 31, 2004, 1 in 5 goes back to the store, half of those complaining consumers remain dissatisfied and only 3 in 1000 take it to a higher authority. The percentages will probably be different now with all the social media, but you see that you will probably not hear it if there is dissatisfaction. Without feedback, you can do little about it, so try to prevent dissatisfaction. In addition, if there is dissatisfaction, make filing a complaint easy to do.

3. Strengthen the effects of word-of-mouth.

You can do so by bringing together ambassadors and customers or by having the ambassadors help non-customers.

4. Select more and less valuable customers.

Find your key target group and mainly invest in these valuable customers.


The book No Budget Marketing is packed with tips that are still valuable regardless of the social media revolution. I recommend reading the book since it extensively discusses the tips mentioned as well as how you can support no budget marketing through traditional means. I have tried to update the tips by mentioning the use of user-generated content and social media.

If you need any help with Dutch or English in your marketing strategy, please contact me at I have helped many SMEs and governmental agencies with affordable translations into Dutch or English, so let me know if I can do the same for you.

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