Stunning Marketing Campaigns with Zero Budget?

Did you ever ponder on how you could reduce your marketing budget to Zero? Can the Customer Acquisition Cost ever be negative or is it just an ideal scenario?

Here, we look at two mind blowing campaigns that have been amazingly successful and had a zero marketing budget. In fact, they earned money instead of spending it, through their marketing campaign.

Varun Agarwal, Alma Matter:

Varun, a Bangalore based entrepreneur started his venture in 2009, Alma Matter, an online store providing apparel and memorabilia to alumni students from schools and colleges across India.

The company grew at a time when social media ads were non existent and print ads, very expensive. The only way the entrepreneurs could make money was by hustling, by literally becoming their own salesmen and pitching it to people through a lot of B2B marketing.

The problem with B2B marketing, however, is scalability, which requires a lot of human resource and time. Alma Matter needed something that could push their brand into the minds of the young Indians.

That’s when Varun came up with his best selling novel “How I Braved Annu Aunty and Co Founded a Million Dollar Company,” a novel covering his journey to success as a start up founder. The book, through the story, neatly talks about the brand, Alma Matter. While the story caught the fantasy of the young Indian reader, the brand established it’s connection with their minds.

Alma Matter earned it’s place in everyone’s household through the novel.

Years later, Varun again naively promoted Alma Matter when Ted India uploaded the video of his motivational speech at TedX Kerala. The talk again covered his story from a middle class Indian engineering student to the founder of a million dollar company.

Their marketing was about their story. They sold their story more than their stuff to the people, connected emotionally and garnered their mind share. All this, without spending a penny on anything. In fact, Varun Agarwal made money through his best selling novel as well.

Alma Matter simply created a brand and garnered Indian mind share, at Zero Marketing Budget. 

Uber, Visakhapatnam:

Uber, the technology company that revolutionised the transport industry worldwide, began it’s operations in the city of Visakhapatnam, a city in India, in July 2015. It’s main competitor, Ola had been already gained sufficient market share by then, having been present since over a year by then. Uber needed to quickly intersect the market in the city.

Uber Visakhapatnam, along with team Alloy, understood the important role students played in the city. The city’s life revolved around these young people.

Going the creative way, the team came up with an amazing competition named Mad About Marketing, aimed at the student crowd. The two week long event invited students to participate as teams of two or three, with a nominal registration fee.

The teams had to go through three rounds following which the winner was to be selected who was to then win an amazing “Paid Internship” at Uber, which is of tremendous value to any student.

Over the course of two weeks, the participants excitedly took part in the three rounds. The first round involved a lot of hustling where the teams were required to promote Uber and get in sign ups and downloads to the apps. They could pitch in to their family, friends, relatives, neighbours and literally anyone.

The top fifty teams, depending on the number of sign ups garnered by each team, were then selected to round 2, which involved the participants putting in their creative mind into play by doing a lot of social media promotions, by creating short films, ads, songs, memes or even by putting up statuses or profile pictures.

During this time, #UberVizag was trending on Facebook locally in the city. What’s more is that Uber got in three to four months’ worth of sign ups in just a week!

The third round was an interview, post which a winner was awarded the prized internship at Uber.

The event saw a huge participation of over 700 people. When 700 people go around the city, pitching and talking about the same brand, imagine the rippling effect it could create. How much did it cost Uber to get this done? Nothing. The nominal registration fee charged from the participants ensured the logistical expenses if any.

And that’s how Uber overtook Ola in it’s market share with a Zero Marketing Budget campaign.

The most successful companies spend the least in Marketing with the Best results. 

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