FREE marketing strategy

Our free marketing strategy is aimed primarily at startup businesses with little to no budget for targetted marketing campaigns. Most of the items below cost nothing and ultimately come down to time and admin. We hope you find the information below useful, we would be happy to help with any of the aspects along the way!

 Shoe-string marketing

Be working

For service providers: “The best way to get work is to be working.” If you are struggling with insufficient work or just starting out, offering free (or in-kind) services might help to:

  • Solidify your experience and provide you with a portfolio/ case study.
  • Help you make a few mistakes without it being too big a deal.
  • Get the word-of-mouth wheel turning and provide you with opportunities to network.

Word of mouth and referrals

This is by the far the best form of marketing!

  • Your clients are the ones who reach out to you.
  • Someone has already vouched for your credentials and abilities – you don’t need to do the “hard sell.” Just be professional and on budget and the likelihood of a conversion is high.
  • Treat every customer like gold as they may be your ticket to your next client/job/sale.
  • Share your customer reviews to make your business more trustworthy.
  • Create feedback prompts for your customers to build positive relationships with them.

Increasing word of mouth opportunities

  • Incentivise your current client base with a % discount on repeat business or if they send someone your way.

  • Offer a finders fee for referrals.
  • Make it easy to share your credentials/show off your work with shareable assets.
    • Website
    • Facebook page
    • Business card
    • Email newsletter
    • Forwardable email/PDF of your services

Incentivise new customers with a % discount

This can be done for free through your social media channels or you can provide a set budget for social media or Google ads.

Early bird discounts/ loyalty programmes

Early bird discounts are a great way to create excitement around your brand/ event and offer your loyal customers a bargain. It is also a great way of increasing your short term cash flow. Creating special loyalty programmes for your customers will also ensure their happiness and retention. 

Basic search engine optimisation (SEO)

Most aspects of SEO you can do yourself, it ultimately comes down to time. There is a host of online information on how to create and implement an SEO strategy.

Public relations (PR)

PR is editorial content – i.e. websites and magazines writing about you or your service. Publications are always looking for fresh content, as long as you or your service is current/ newsworthy, they may write an article about you. This is easiest when you are new or have a unique offering (preferably both). Research which publications cover your field, make a list and contact them with a press release.

  • You can engineer the press release to what you think they want to hear.
  • Make a list of relevant publications and contact them.
  • A discounted offer of your services attached to the article will make the proposition more attractive. 

Innovative ways to reach your target market

Understand who your target market is and try to figure out how best to reach them. Contacting customers directly might be difficult but try to figure out who does have contact with your potential customers and reach out to them. For example, if you are a tour guide, connect with Concierge staff at hotels as they could be able to recommend you to their clientele. Make a list of potential partners, create a simple two-sentence pitch (it can be an email) and communicate with them.

Ask for help

Don’t be afraid to ask people to help you – maybe someone would be prepared to display your flyers or business cards on their front desk or send an introduction on your behalf.

Existing customer base

Your existing customer base is a tangible source for new business.

  • Offer your existing clients discounts for repeat business.
  • Consider how you add value to your existing customers by marketing new products and services to them.

Quid pro quo

Favours for favours

  • Find  people would be prepared to display your flyers or business cards on their front desk and offer to do the same.
  • Offer to do social media posts/ shares in return for them doing the same for you.
  • Offer to include them in your newsletter/ media posts in return for them doing the same for you.
  • Offer to link to their website from yours if they do the same.

Email newsletter

Email newsletters are a good way to periodically send relevant information to your supporters, past, and potential clients and most importantly to remind them of your existence. Here you can:

  • Keep yourself at the top of people’s minds.
  • Launch new products and services.
  • Competitions (discount/free service) are a great way to get people to engage.
  • Offer deals and specials to them.

Ways to collect subscribers are:

  • With a sign-up feature on your website.
  • Incentivise submission to your database with a discount.
  • Posting engaging and informative content on your website could naturally entice people to subscribe.


Always be looking for ways to gently tell people you meet about what you do and offer them your business card. Consider the events you can attend where you can network. Remember, be passionate but not too pushy 😉

Social media marketing

Most major social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are free to set up and have the potential to take your business to new levels if implemented effectively by creating relevant and engaging content.
Social media is also a useful tool for creating user-generated content (USG) and sharing the content your clients create/ the electronic word of mouth (eWOM) about your business.

Budget marketing

Search engine optimisation (SEO)

Basic SEO comprises of research, creating a strategy and then implementing that strategy. A basic SEO strategy will include:

  • Determining suitable keywords for your website.
  • Writing text content to support those keywords.
  • Implementing technical SEO elements to your website.
  • Link building.

SEO does require periodic updates and results can take months to show. For the above services, you will need to pay a fee.

Google & Facebook advertising

You can target specific demographics of people in your city and set a budget that you can afford. This type of marketing is useful as you can use analytics to track how effective the spend is and how many inquiries lead to sales.

Associations and business networks

Registering with these types of organisations usually carry a small annual or monthly fee but can be a good source of contacts for future business.

Join a networking group – be proactive and attend networking sessions.

Flyers & posters

This is an inexpensive way of raising awareness about your brand or product offerings and can work perfectly instore or on your premises. The challenging part is distribution if you plan to have your collateral seen by the outside world. Unfortunately, you cannot measure the results. For that reason, we would recommend a digital campaign through Facebook, Instagram and Google.

If you do decide you need to print flyers, please ensure you print on recycled paper using non-toxic vegetable inks. See for a list of ethical printers in South Africa.

Enlist your own sales force

Enlist the help of people you know to help sell your services/ products for you – offer them a referral fee/ commission for each lead that turns into a sale.

Guerilla marketing

This form of marketing can be executed without a large budget and involves creating innovative and unconventional activations to make more consumers aware of your product offering and create viral conversations about your business.

Satisfied clients

The Ethical Agency
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Marc Sherratt
Marc Sherratt
Brett is a highly detailed and reliable professional that helped us achieve a well crafted website for our architectural firm. I strongly recommend him.
Scott Rogers
Scott Rogers
I've worked with Brett and his team for over a year and their customer service is excellent. They deal with queries and changes swiftly and are extremely easy and enjoyable to do business with. Thanks Ethical Branding.
Robert Worthington
Robert Worthington
Brett helped us develop a set of new icons for our software platform. Was great working with him and very happy with the results.
Melanie Esterhuizen
Melanie Esterhuizen
Brett is very reliable and great at what he does - I'd highly recommend him.
Nina Sierra Rubia
Nina Sierra Rubia
Great mission, great prices, great work!
Trenton Birch
Trenton Birch
Great company, always deliver and care about what they do and our planet
Richard Mills
Richard Mills
We have worked with Brett on a number of projects in the last 5 years the most notable our website He is always very responsive, brings great fresh new ideas with a sense of humour. He strives for excellence and professionalism in all that he does. We continue to have a great... working more
Bianca Kaiser
Bianca Kaiser
I have been working with Brett for years on various projects and would 100% recommend him. He is super reliable, always goes the extra mile and works at lightening speed when the pressure is on.
Noel Da Costa
Noel Da Costa
Brett and I have been working together for years. Unfailingly reliable and always willing to go the extra mile with a smile. I'm a big fan of Ethical Branding. 📢
Lee-Roy Davids
Lee-Roy Davids
Their work ethic is like none other! Professional and turn around time is out of this world!
Lungi Mthethwa
Lungi Mthethwa
I have been working with Brett since last year and I must say that I am super impressed with his creativity and services. He is always on the ball, works ahead of time and loves to brainstorm new concepts. Ethical Branding is amazing and I would definitely recommend it to anyone!
Elmari Dell
Elmari Dell
Ethical Branding managed to define exactly what we wanted as the brief was influenced by a number of people. Proposals were presented in no time and we appreciated the clear professional guidance and enthusiasm with which Brett handled us. Our first steps were cautious, but it was easy to let go... and rely on his amazing creativity and experience. We also tested his patience to the more
Mark Patrick Bland
Mark Patrick Bland
These guys turned around my CI (Corporate Identity) and website in no time at all, delivered exactly on brief, went above and beyond and just understood what I was wanting from the get go. Love what you guys did for our TASTE Walking Tours - thank you!
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