How to get sales without paid advertising

This is Digital Ties Marketing’s free beginner’s guide to how to get your first online sales without any advertising spend or investment.

First off it’s important to know that 2020 brought about one of the biggest changes ever to business and advertising. The disruption of the pandemic didn’t bring anything new about, instead, it sped up the virtualization of most business operations, both internally and externally.

In 2021, entrepreneurs have the unprecedented opportunity to cut through dull corporate advertisements and soulless brands create a customer base that is loyal to them.


The very first thing you have to do is make sure you have a truly unique brand and product.  

The more niche and unique you can be, the better chance of success you’ll have.

Every entrepreneur needs to audit their personal hobbies, experiences, and skills before starting their business. Aligning a product offering to the founder’s values is the first step to differentiating their offerings.\

Research your competitors and figure out how your values, experience, expertise, and skills could differentiate your company and its offerings from the rest of your competitors.

A good question to ask yourself is: “Why?” Why do you do what you do? People are more willing to trust you if you have a good answer as to why you want to help them.


Next, you need to understand e-commerce. In 2021 e-commerce doesn’t mean investing thousands of dollars into a brand new website, instead, it means using the most cost-efficient online marketplace to process payments and sales.

You can sell anything online, so it’s very important you’re not a follower, but a disruptor. As a bootstrap startup it’s important for you take advantage of all the free e-commerce infrastructures out there that are waiting for you to generate sales with the sole investment of time. 

Check out our blog post comparing the ecommerce options.


Once you have your store up and your products/services listed, you can begin to prospect for your first sales without any advertisement spend. You can do this by using social networks to reach out and engage with people about your product.

Make sure you don’t reach out to people just to immediately ask for sales, but to instead present yourself and your idea/products/services and simply ask for their input. You’ll quickly gather valuable data and actionable advice. This also will increase the trust between you and your prospects by making them feel listened to when you act on their input.

You should reach out to hundreds of people by posting on social media groups. Once you have had a back-and-forth going with interested prospects, simply offer a sample product or a big discount so they can try your products or services out

Remember that just engaging with one hundred people is not enough if you want to invest $0 dollars in your ad spend, instead you need to invest your time connecting with individuals as possible customers.

What Is Digital Marketing

Today I wanted to answer the overarching question of “What is digital marketing?” without using jargon or over-used industry terms.

A lot of people think that digital marketing is a new website or posting on social media. People forget that digital marketing is just traditional marketing through digital channels. These new digital channels, which you already know as social media platforms, search engines, perhaps niche websites like a forum or directories, are advertising channels. These channels offer captive audiences that we can use to prequalify a large audience into possible customers and returning satisfied customers. The main benefit of running digital advertising versus traditional comes down to the cost and ROI.

Any time we run traditional marketing, we lose the opportunity to garnish data and we’re really in the dark as far as how much revenue came in from a particular coupon or flyer. In comparison, when we run digital marketing we will know exactly who did and didn’t like this message, and with a little bit of analysis, we’ll understand why. This is super important because we get to run a subsequent ad with full input, which will guarantee a better and better outcome every time we run it.

In 2021 you shouldn’t run traditional marketing without a QR code or a call to action back to your website. Any business that forgets this is missing an opportunity to garnish data and track return on investment. Now, I came up with the idea to create digital ties marketing because I saw an industry filled with web designers who call themselves marketers but have no idea about branding strategy, positioning, or business models. These marketers tend to piece out each service and charge blindly for it, which reduces the impact marketing has on your bottom line. I wanted to create a better service that could give businesses the boost they needed during COVID restrictions.

The average web design-centered agency can only deliver visually appealing websites and social media profiles that have little to no impact on sales. This is like creating a huge mall or a beautiful restaurant and dining room with no sign outside to tell people to come in. 

It’s one of the first and most common mistakes that I’ve seen both entrepreneurs and more experienced business owners do. 

What businesses need to achieve their goals is a digital strategy that aligns perfectly with their budget and revenue goals. This mix of unexpected strategies and tools can become very expensive at other one-size-fit-all digital marketing agencies where you’re likely to find cryptic very technical language that means little to you when thinking about your specific business.

Titles like SEO PPC SMS marketing and UX are too technical and vague in terms of your specific business model. So even after you pay a huge bill, you’re still left wondering if you are doing enough for your business. And the vicious cycle of only performing digital marketing activities a few months out of the year continues. 

So at digital ties marketing our mission is to simplify small business digital marketing by relying on the power of targeted paid advertising to fuel traffic and steady sales. Along with expert content, we maximize the impact of our advertising and generate brand loyalty.

I like using a car analogy because even if you’re not a car person you understand that when you don’t want to deal with what’s under the hood you rely on a professional.

We compare a digital brand to a vehicle that drives revenue and growth. This vehicle needs to be maintained and repaired. Moreover, if we wish to outperform our competitors we must invest in the right set-up and maintenance.

At Digital Ties Marketing we offer revenue growth through digital advertising. Plain and simple.

We simplify shopping for marketing services by letting you focus on what really  matters: the impact to the bottom line. 

Most digital agencies are web designers who coerce you into paying for marketing services separately when we know that what every business needs is a mix of tactics aligned to short-term revenue goals.

Small Business Marketing in the Digital Age

5 Steps to Success in 2021

Step 1: Analyse the Competition

We need to be aware of the competing brand’s style, their product line, and their marketing efforts. If we understand this then we’ll be able to identify incoming threats to our sales and opportunities to differentiate from our competitors.

Step 2: Audit the Brand

No matter the background, every business owner needs to be able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the business and brand. A SWOT analysis it’s a great exercise that will provide us with real insight and define what makes us different from our competitors.

Step 3: Define Marketing Objectives

We must first ask ourselves two questions: “What are my short-term sales goals?” and “What is the long term positioning goal for the brand?”

In other words, how much do we want to sell this quarter and how do we want to be known as a brand five years from now?

Every brand goes through the same growth curve. It begins at brand awareness and product launch and it culminates on customer retention and brand advocacy.

Depending on where the brand is currently positioned the short-term sales goals are going to be one of the following:

  • New Customers: the most complex and expensive marketing objective.
  • Repeat Sales: The sweet-spot when aligning business objectives to marketing goals. It allows brands to take advantage of the low cost of digital advertising and generate brand loyalty.
  • Upselling To Regular Customers: The most cost effective way to market and boost revenue, however it requires we already have a customer base.

Step 4: Define your Marketing Budget

Marketing budgets come in all shapes and sizes. Some business models have only relied on word of mouth for years, while others rely heavily on expensive traditional advertising or a paid sales force.

No matter where your marketing budget is, we must take advantage of all the digital tools and cost-effective advertising available to us in 2021.

I want to give you specifics; we must be ready to invest about 7% to 15% of forecasted sales into a marketing budget.

If cash flow is an issue but we have a more established brand in the community, we can stick to the lower end of that range and replace advertising spend with creativity and a deepening customer relationships. 

It takes money to make money: a minimum of 15% of forecasted sales revenue is a solid place to start. However  a new brand with the hopes to pass more established competitors will need to reinvest more into marketing at the beginning to build brand awareness while also boosting sales, something more like 20% of the forecasted revenue.

Step 5: Plan a Strategy

Brands must focus on the business’ strengths and opportunities when deciding which mix of digital channels to use. Expert help will also guarantee your are maximizing the impact of the marketing budget.

Digital Ties Marketing is the only agency that guarantees the maximum return on every advertising dollar spent. How? 

The digital marketing agency industry is made-up of 99% of developers and web designers who understand expensive web design and SEO as the only marketing tactics

In 2021 digital marketing doesn’t mean a website, instead, every small business needs a sustainable marketing program that clearly yields revenue growth and customer loyalty.

Traditional Advertising in 2021

How to maximize the return of old-school paper and traditional ads.

Small businesses in 2021 must transition from advertising through flyers and local papers to digital marketing tactics. Traditional marketing on local publications is slowly becoming obsolete, huge national brands like SaveOn and Valpak close down markets every month due to the dwindling demand for their services….

So are coupons and flyers dead? Is traditional marketing dead? Not quite.

Most consumers now spend several hours on their phone and computer daily, giving digital advertising the opportunity to influence potential customers multiple times a day in different ways at a much lower price than traditional and paper advertising. 

If you do choose to run traditional advertising in 2021, there are a few rules you should follow in order to maximize effectiveness:

  1. You always need to have a call to action. It’s not enough to have a big discount or a coupon on the ad, you must tell the customer what you’d like them to do and when. 
  2. It is also a good idea to add social media handles and ask people to join the communities by following you. This ensures that you have a captive targeted audience you can retarget at a fraction of the price of regular advertising. 
  3. Adding a QR code connected directly to an Order Now or Book Now page is the best of both worlds and should be deployed if you choose to advertise through expensive traditional channels.

If you were to invest the same amount from direct mail into a social media or Google advertising campaign you’re guaranteed to get better results since with digital advertising we get live consumer data for every single person that sees our publicity and we make sure we’re not paying to advertise to the wrong individuals.

Make sure to download our free Drive Revenue With Social Media Guide to stop overpaying for marketing and losing ideal customers to wasted ad spend!