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Growth-Hack Your Business With $0

by Chris Kilbourn  |  
March 21, 2014

Budgets are marketing's biggest myth. The idea is innocent enough: Companies will dedicate a conservative sum of money to user acquisition and customer retention. But here's the thing. If you're running your marketing programs right, your budget shouldn't even matter. It should be uncapped.

Keep in mind that we don't encourage business owners to go out and spend $1 million overnight. That would be insane. What we're saying is that it's possible to scale your marketing budget—i.e., starting with a small spend and building it up incrementally.

That growth-hacking process takes rigorous discipline. Start with a test, measure results, and scale up in areas when you are successful. And it's possible to start this process with $0. You need to focus your time on actions that generate an ROI, even if you're not spending money.

Get started immediately with the following four critical tips.

1. Stop wasting conversions

Traffic acquisition is only half the equation. Once your visitors are on your website, you need to make sure that you're maximizing your conversion opportunities. That means targeting visitors with the right marketing message, at the right time.

For instance, your blog readers may not be ready to spend money. So offer them a free trial or free content instead. At our blog at Fit Marketing, we offer a free e-book that helps move prospects down the sales conversion funnel. The goal is to help prospects see the expertise of our team and build trust with our brand.

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Chris Kilbourn is the VP of strategy at Fit Marketing. In past lives, he was a professional rock star (seriously), and he built and sold two companies from the ground up. He offers free consultations.

Twitter: @ChrisKilbourn

LinkedIn: Chris Kilbourn

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  • by Naomi@Business Start Ups Fri Mar 21, 2014 via web

    Hi Chris,

    I really like what you said here... "2. Quit making customers jump through hoops".

    When on a website if I have the long task of typing, entering security codes and signing up I usually leave. I plan to do it another time (but normally forget!)

    I do so much browsing and reading on my smartphone when I'm on the go. Because of this having to type and enter details means I can't scan information quickly. The more simplified the better and if a business can't keep up, you'll be left behind!

    Thanks for read


  • by Steve Griffiths Fri Mar 21, 2014 via web

    Thanks for the article, Chris. Some great points on maximizing conversions. We thought we’d add a point to your #2 recommendation, “Quit making customers jump through hoops.” At Ifbyphone we agree that filling out a form on your smart phone doesn’t make sense. No one wants to fill out a form with their thumbs, so contact us sections of mobile ads and web pages should be clickable links, and then companies need to track those calls.

  • by John McTigue Fri Mar 21, 2014 via web

    I like your suggestions for increasing conversion rates, but what about filling the funnel with qualified leads? How are you going to do that fast enough to start generating enough revenue to stay afloat on the first several months of business? Blogging? Social media updates? I don't think so. You're still going to need targeted demand generation campaigns to bring buyers in to convert on your frictionless offers. That's not cheap. Neither are the skills and labor needed to create high quality content that doesn't fall victim to Content Shock. Neither is the technology needed to manage digital marketing (although your partnership idea makes sense if you can find it). I think most companies would be reluctant to attach themselves too closely to a marketing technology company, since their needs are likely to change as they grow. Growth Hacking is a nice idea, but it's not a substitute for careful planning and budegting for marketing as well as sales, product development, support etc.

  • by Caro Wags Sat Mar 22, 2014 via web

    Totally agree with your comments on budget for marketing. A small start-up can easily run into trouble when unexpected expenses occur and suck up $s originally set aside. You then need to be highly driven and creative in isolating areas worth spending what's left of your budget but thank goodness for programs like Google Analytics. Research is essential. As for partnering, there is a problem with finding other businesses who are interested especially if you are a newbie (risk) & your product needs to align with what they are selling. You are so right about working backwards from the consumer's needs.

    Booking abandonment is big in the travel industry with about 74% of customers clicking off and not proceeding to the check-out. This has caused the need for a greater focus on sales automation, and just like you mention it's all about designing your website to simplify & speed up the process before they loose interest. I wouldn't mind betting that a greater majority of those "Click -offs" are from people on smart phones when they reach those fiddly forms, although a lot could be sufferers of consumer angst about whether they need to make further comparisons before proceeding to your check-out.

  • by Kimmy Burgess Sun Mar 23, 2014 via web

    Very truthful insight truth about marketing strategies. i really liked the idea of "Quit making customers jump through hoops" & "Contact new prospects one-to-one". As above strategies are important on gaining confidence of customer & also keeping track where the business is moving.

  • by Sammy James Mon Mar 24, 2014 via web

    Chris- As a boot strapped start-up, we have to earn our way forward. The marketing hub seems to have more spokes than ever and all need to be tension balanced on a regular basis to keep your 'wheel' in true. And now that applications exist in the cloud, using API's to enhance the functionality of your application and compliment another is definitely occupies several spokes on the wheel. It reminds me of the BASF tag line: We didn't invent the (APP) we helped make it better.

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