What Is Zero-Dollar Marketing? Strategy, Case Study, and Examples

What Is Zero-Dollar Marketing? Strategy, Case Study, and Examples

Today, it is easier than ever before for brands to market their products and services or themselves in ways that incur zero to little cost. With the internet’s aid, marketers have discovered solutions to effectively market their products without paying a large amount for it. Unlike the times where mainstream marketing mediums were print media, television advertisements, and out-of-home advertisements, today, marketers can target their prospects and market to them without thinking about breaking their marketing budgets.

What is Zero-Dollar Marketing?

Although there is no definition for zero-dollar marketing set in stone, I’m sure the basic gist of this marketing technique is well-understood by all. After all, its name doesn’t leave much for one to wonder about. Zero-dollar marketing has leveled the field for companies, irrespective of their size, and provides smaller companies with the ability to challenged larger corporates with creative marketing.

With their big marketing budgets, corporates spend crores on getting their product marketed; smaller companies now have the chance to utilize the internet and harness social media to trump the competition and gain a sizeable market share. Marketing is reduced to a few key considerations that need to be aced.

  • Marketing Creativity
  • Understanding Customers
  • Innovative Strategies

Earlier, marketers were classified as ‘good’ when they successfully marketed products, with little or no regard for the amount spent to achieve that marketing success. Today, ‘good’ marketers look to successfully market their products while spending the least possible amount of money on it. That is the difference between traditional marketing methods and zero-dollar marketing.

How to Follow a Zero-Dollar Marketing Strategy?

  • Kick Start With the Basics

To start with, every business can opt for the following methods to set the base for their $0 marketing strategy.

  • SEO

Most people think SEO is costly and requires a considerable budget to implement. However, business owners must think of it as a skill rather than a service. People can learn the ropes of this skill within a couple of days and get better at it each time they implement it. This is more of a long-term acquisition and does not provide benefits instantly. It takes time for businesses to optimize their SEO.

  • Content

Developing content that will draw prospects’ attention is a great way to market your brand without spending much on it. And, here, content needs to be meaningful and provide solutions to your audience. It should solve problems that didn’t have an answer before or solve problems better than other ways. Content can be of many formats and is another excellent way to get people to notice your brand and talk about it. Organic chatter around your brand is one of the best achievable marketing goals that every organization looks to achieve. Word-of-mouth marketing works wonders as it is trustworthy.

Social Media via Zero Dollar MarketingSocial Media
Get your brand on social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and TikTok, among many others. Doing so is relatively free for all unless you associate it with the costs required to manage and analyze it. Even then, social media sites such as LinkedIn provide brands with an Analytics button that allows them to understand their page’s functioning and gives a better understanding of their audience.


  • Virality

Make use of engaging and viral content to drive traffic to your website. Developing viral content that gets your audience to invite their friends doesn’t cost much, if at all. Combining this with referral marketing brings in excellent results for brands.

  • Customer Focus

Rather than concentrating all of your focus on your products or services’ features, focus more on what your customers want from your product or service. Create a customer service experience that is so positive; it is unforgettable. Excellent customer service is another way to introduce word-of-mouth into your marketing strategy. 

  • Focus Your Marketing Budget on Inbound

Change your way of marketing from outbound to inbound, as inbound is proven to provide higher ROI. While outbound methods include trade shows, seminars, cold calls, TV ads, door-to-door marketing, and hoardings, among others, inbound strategies include SEO, blogging, CRM, CTAs, Analytics, and social media.

Brands are advised to concentrate 90% of their marketing budgets on inbound methods and the remaining 10% on outbound. This helps brands attract, engage, and delight the right customers by using zero-dollar marketing.

  • Structure Your Database

In today’s digital age, data is the most critical asset of any company. Customer data is the heart of any business, and brands must store and sort this data to create enhanced targeting segments. Build a database that includes prospects and existing customers’ data and preferences from calls, chats, events, previous sales, documentation, and other inquiry forms. Store this data safely in a reliable CRM that serves your business for eternity. Encourage employees to use this data to build meaningful relationships with customers and convert prospects via personalized communication.

  • Story Telling

Come up with an emotional, engaging, and educational story that focuses on the brand and does not seem like an advertisement. Make alterations to this story to utilize it in everything, such as the sales pitch, brand campaigns, and company website. This story helps customers and prospects in connecting with a brand more easily. The story also works in a way that places your brand before any others in your audience’s minds.

  • Blogging

You ever wondered why so many businesses have a blog associated with them? Zero-dollar marketing is the answer you’ve been looking for! Blogs deliver solutions and help their audiences. The interested readers are then categorized as the company’s prospects and are then targeted for sales. Blogs help companies attract a large number of viewers and possible customers to their main website with the help of CTAs (Call to Action) that are present within the blog content.

We understand that we have already spoken about kick-starting zero-dollar marketing with content and that blogs are a part of that content. However, the importance of blogs needs to be stressed upon for this marketing method. Blogs help brands attract audiences, gather useful data, provide prospects, and create a community around themselves. With the brand at the center, these communities are tremendously beneficial and, despite taking time to establish, are a useful weapon in any brand’s marketing arsenal.


The nature of each business is different, and no two marketing strategies would be the same. And if a successful marketing strategy was to be copied and mimicked by another company, it may not guarantee success. That being said, there are no holy grail benchmarks out there, and since every business is different, so are the standards for them.

There are published benchmarks available around the metric that a brand may want to experiment on. However, this shouldn’t be considered as the end goal. Brands must aim to achieve better than their previous performances by improving on them. Brands should also be careful about the saturation point of individual experiments. If a particular amount is reached and there is no room for improvement, it is advised for businesses to move on.

Case Study: Tesla, Inc.

Case Study: Tesla, Inc.While this might come as a surprise to many, tesla Motor has committed to a $0 advertising budget. If you don’t believe this, how about if I told you that it has no advertising team, no CMO, and no advertisement agency? Despite these facts, which may seem to be limitations, Tesla is one of the most trendy and sought-after car brands today.

Logo by Tesla as seen on the Website link

In 2015, Tesla’s advertising expenditure was recorded at $0, while Volkswagen spent nearly $6 billion and Ford, more than $4 billion. In 2016, Tesla produced only 84,000 vehicles, compared to Volkswagen’s 10.5 million, and Ford’s 6.5 million vehicles. In terms of market capitalization between the first quarter of 2015 to the first quarter of 2017, Tesla recorded a percentage change of +40%. In contrast, Volkswagen and Ford recorded a percentage change of over -60% and -20%, respectively. This demonstrates perfectly the effectiveness and sustainability of zero-dollar marketing.


There are tons of great examples for $0 marketing out there, each unique. These examples go to show that there is no set standard way of doing $0 marketing. Two fine examples of zero-dollar marketing are as follows.

  • Alkemi

Video by Drifting Lands

Alkemi, a French studio, came up with a trailer for Drifting Lands, a hybrid, action-RPG genre video game. This well-crafted trailer shows how marketing budgets don’t need to be high to pack a punch and attract audiences. Alkemi utilized content to attract prospects for the video game by creating a video. And, what better than a video for a video game? It makes sense to use video as a marketing channel because it mirrors in-game visuals and events and assures viewers of the game’s authenticity. This video is powerful as it is short, comprises excellent visuals, music, in-game footage, and a CTA (in the form of a website link) at the end.

  • Talk to Jason

Talk to Jason

Image as seen on Product Habits

Jason Knight, CEO of Wesabe, handed out his mobile number to customers to encourage dialogue. Along with his phone number, Jason states that he welcomes comments about the brand’s products, questions regarding products, or just a general chat. This allows brands to understand their customers better than any other way. It also conveys to the customers that they are essential to the business.

A company’s public opinion is built from the conversations customers have with its employees. Reaching out and helping customers and audiences proactively build a lasting positive experience. An experience that isn’t easily forgotten. This separates the brands that people prefer from the ones that go unnoticed.


Zero-dollar marketing involves brands spending a minimal amount on their marketing efforts while reaping big rewards. It is useful for all brands, irrespective of their size and marketing budget. Even for brands with substantial marketing budgets in place, this marketing method provides numerous advantages over other marketing practices. Brands can compete with competitors of any size and still emerge at the very top of the market using this method.