How to Build a Brand without an Advertising Budget


At Inman Connect, we learned that Zilllow waited seven years to spend money on advertising.  They built their brand on their product and through what Amy Bohutinksky, Chief Marketing Officer, calls: “the first content marketing strategy I’d seen in any company,” according to Venture Beat.  The success of Zillow wasn’t attributed to large media budgets or advertising campaigns.  It was built around a consistent message, strong brand, and earned publicity like word of mouth, PR, and social media. So, how can your company do the same?

1) Start with the product

What do you want to be known for?  What is your area of expertise?  We’ve all heard the idea that you don’t want to be “everything to everyone.”  It’s better to keep it simple, know your sweet spot and deliver on that consistently.  This has nothing to do with marketing or branding per se, but it will do more for overall revenue than any ad buy ever will.

2) If you have a worthy product, the public will do your advertising for you.  All you have to do is give them a little nudge.

Zillow is a big believer in social media.  They promote heavily, monitor consistency, and reinvest where they see return.  Unlike traditional advertising that pushes a message out, a social media strategy pulls a targeted consumer in one at a time.  While you may not get the reach, you’ll get more out of that single consumer by building a relationship they feel an active part of.  In other words, don’t just shout your message – evoke a conversation and you’ll find consumers respond in a more positive, proactive way.

3) Content is (still) king

Yes, it’s time-consuming, but producing content that supports your core brand and reinforces your product is a very effective marketing strategy.  Not only do you build trust, reinforce your brand, become an expert in your given field, and create the opportunity for a dialogue with prospects – by publishing content on different media outlets, content helps drive traffic to you organically as well.

Creating compelling content isn’t as splashy as running a television commercial, but it can often be just as effective in driving leads and conversions.

You don’t need a big advertising budget to build a brand and become profitable.  You just need to be focused, driven, and methodical in your content marketing.  It seems to be working out well for Zillow, and it can work for you too.

Onboard offers content solutions that help drive traffic to your site and awareness to your brand utilizing our wealth of local information.  If you’re interested in learning more, talk to us today.

Photo Credit: Pictures of Money on