My grandparents were cheap—they were Scottish so they can blame their heritage (copper wire was invented by a Scottish guy who was trying to stretch a penny) – and they taught me to make do and reuse far before it was trendy to do so. I learned from them at an early age how to bootstrap.
That “be cheap” mentality carried over to my marketing and operation strategies. Paying for advertising just seems wrong. It seems like too much of a risk. And until I’ve tried everything else that I know will work, I just won’t take the chance on marketing that might work.
“Be cheap bootstrapping” also carried over into getting marketing done for my companies. I’ve hired actors, and instead of giving them money for a photo shoot, I gave them a load of junk removal for free. We hired another actor when we were very small and gave him $200 cash for unlimited use of his photo. It ended up being on hundreds of thousands of pieces. Other companies would have paid $5,000 for this kind of work, but we got him to take $200. We just hired a good-looking, young guy who fit our brand. It didn’t hurt that we found someone I’d known since they were 12.
I’ve had TV ads produced, and every actor we used was a friend of the company who did it for no money. And I have clients in Berlin who are now buying TV advertising and paying a percentage of revenues that it generates to the television station. They refused to pay a fixed price and convinced the TV station that if the ads were “really going to work,” then the TV station could share in the risk and the potential gains.
Here is one of the biggest secrets ever: every magazine, newspaper, TV and radio station will barter for their advertising space. Even bloggers will trade space for something they want. The key is for you to find something you have that is of value to them. Give them some of your products or services in exchange for an equal or greater amount of credit, gift certificates, and so on. There are also plenty of websites around like CrowdSpring where you can get creative work done by dozens of people, and yet you only have to pay the person whose work you love best.
Make a game out of it: See how cost conscious you can get without compromising your operation.
And if you’re seeing my Ads all over the internet – don’t assume I’m spending very much money – I just found super cheap ways to attract people so more companies would show my DVDs to their employees too.
pic Business Week