How to get customers with a minimal marketing budget

  • Rule #1: You only need a big marketing budget when you don't know who your customers are or why they want to buy from you
  • Rule #2: Your #1 marketing tool is YOU - you are the reason why customers will buy and why they will keep coming back
  • Rule #3: The sooner you act like a Rockstar and start telling your own story, the faster you will attract the kind of customers you want

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Graham D Brown - author of the guide

What are you going to learn in this section?

Now you have product, you need to get out there and get customers. But how?

You can’t spend millions of advertising, so you need to be creative. You have a lot of assets that big companies don’t have like personal relationships and the human touch. Rather than compete with the big guys, you need to focus on marketing your business around you as the central “brand” and building personal relationships that can help you get your name out there.

In this book, I want to teach you about how to hustle like a pro.



You're reading one chapter from my new Guide:
How to Become a Lifestyle Entrepreneur


Rule #1 – Assume no one gives a shit…

“In a crowded marketplace, fitting in is a failure. In a busy marketplace, not standing out is the same as being invisible.” – Seth Godin

OK, are you sitting down?

Because now I’m going to hit you with another challenge that may leave you feeling sore.

Yes, you have a great product. Somebody liked it enough to pay money for it. Now you want to tell the world.

So you start sharing it on social media. People “like” your posts, then what happens?


Maybe a couple of sales pass from your immediate network of friends, but then it dries up. Where did all that interest go?

What I’m going to say to you next may ruffle your feathers. If it does, I want you to take a deep breath and just let it sink it rather than react, because this home truth will save you in the long run.

“People don’t give a shit about you or your business”

Yep, I said it… how does that feel now?

Now, before you think about your answer, let the idea stand for a minute. Here’s why I said it…

The average American grows up seeing 170,000 marketing messages by aged 17. Anyone who has to deal with that amount of information learns fast to focus on what’s important and forget about the rest. People selectively attend to things that they see as meaningful to them.

This means two things for you:

  1. It doesn’t matter how amazing you or your product is. You could be developing the next Virtual Reality version of Facebook with Artificial Intelligence but people won’t give a shit.
  2. People may have cared yesterday but today is a new day meaning you have to start all over again because they don’t give a shit…

If you start with the assumption nobody gives a shit about you or your product, you’ll do well.

The problem is that many entrepreneurs don’t. It’s a kind of ignorance of selfishness born from believing that we are somehow important in the lives of others. We’re not. We’re just noise.

Marketers compensate for this by splurging large amounts of money on advertising. The idea is that if you throw enough shit at the customer, some of it will stick. This can lead us to believe that to get customers you need to do likewise and have a big marketing budget, which defeats the challenge set by the title…”with a minimum marketing budget.”

You need to be different. You need to find your voice. You need to something to somebody rather than everything to everybody.

You need to go beyond capturing their attention, you need to build a dialog with them.


Rather than HUSTLE for sales, you should be hustling for email addresses.

I don’t mean buying lists of names, swapping with friends or downloading your contacts from Linkedin. None of these work. You should build a newsletter list with names of people who opted into that list.


Because people don’t give a shit, remember?

What we want to do is change that dynamic to work in our favor.

The moment at which Karen lands on our site and starts clicking around your content is a small window of opportunity that you will never get again. If she visited our site yesterday there is a 99% chance she will never come back. Why? Because she forgot or she doesn’t give a shit or both.

So, our goal is to consolidate that interest right there and then. And the best way to do this is to get Karen to join our newsletter.

Newsletters seem old-fashioned in this era of social media and virtual reality but they are still the most effective way of selling and will continue to be so to 2020 and beyond.

Sales rarely happen the first time somebody lands on your site. Customers will usually flirt around your site for several visits before they finally decide to buy. It takes, on average, 4-5 interactions, or as marketers say “touch points”, before a visitor decides to buy.

You know this yourself. Think of the last time you bought a smartphone. You went into the store on the way home, you picked up some of the models then walked out. You then looked online at the reviews. You repeated this process until the day the need was so high, you broke through your inertia.

If there is a 99% of chance of your website visitor coming back, that chance of buying is extremely small.

Some website owners account for that by trying to generate massive traffic.

Imagine you’re trying to fill a bucket of water but the bucket has holes all over it. To fill it up, you’d need a firehose at full blast. Most businesses end up like this, at the mercy of the firehose.

But, what if you fixed the bucket. You wouldn’t need a firehose now would you? Even a small tap would fill the bucket in time.

Your marketing goal is to fill the bucket. The best way of doing this isn’t to increase the volume of water going into the bucket, but to retain as much of that water as possible.

So, the goal of every interaction should be to get people onto your newsletter.

Website visitors might not return but with a newsletter you have the trust and attention of a website visitors who you can now interact with multiple times. Maybe they won’t buy now. Maybe they’re not ready. Much of those decisions are beyond your control. But, if the system is automated, you can still be on their radar 18 months from now when they finally decide it’s time.


You need to give away something of value in return for their email address.

Yes, that means giving away something of value for free. Well, it’s not free in marketing terms, they have paid with their trust and attention.

One way of getting their email addresses is what’s called a “Lead Magnet.”

A Lead Magnet could be an Ebook, an Excel worksheet, an exclusive video, access to a free course, a piece of software or even a content-locked article. If the value is high enough, people will give you their email address for it.

One of the most effective ways to use a Lead Magnet is to drive traffic to what’s called a Landing Page. A Landing Page is a web page designed to move the website visitor from casual interest to action. That’s why it’s structured in a specific way – from identifying the pain of the visitor at the top to a clear “Call to Action” at the bottom with little in the way of distraction (e.g. menu links etc) to take them away.

Here’s a good example of how to make a killer landing page (note you can also use a Landing Page to sell your product which you should consider at a later stage).

The goal of your Lead Magnet is to get their email address. Once you have their email address you can start building a dialog with them through regular email announcements and/or an autoresponder.

I want you to think about marketing as a conversation.

Marketing can put people off. They think about marketing departments, marketing qualifications, billion dollar brand campaigns and all those spreadsheets.

That is not the kind of marketing we’re talking about. If someone talks about what you do to someone they know, that’s marketing. In fact, that’s the most powerful form of marketing out there.

So, your goal is to get them on the list and have a conversation with them. Rather than jack-hammer them with sales offers and promotions (that’s a surefire way to lose their trust and attention), work on creating a connection between you.

You can do this through telling a story in your emails, or sharing a “behind-the-scenes” in your business and life. People like that because people ultimately buy from people, not brands or products.


If you tell people about your product and they “don’t get it”, move on.

Don’t waste time trying to convert people. Converting people from a “no” to a “yes” can take a lot of energy and time. You don’t have enough of that to go round.

Find your “fans”.

I’m talking about the people who are already a “yes” but don’t know it yet.

A fan isn’t someone who “likes” your Facebook Fan page. Being liked is not enough here. People like all sorts of pages without thinking. A fan is someone who “loves” what you do.

Once you have a relationship with your fans, your goal is not to seek new ones but to go deeper.

Rather than constantly chasing new customers, work with the ones you already have. Get customers then do everything you can to build relationships with and delight those customers.

The reason why this strategy works better than constantly searching for new customers is the data: existing customers are 7 times more likely to buy than new ones.

An existing customers trusts you. They are far more likely to upgrade from buying a $10 product to a $500 one than a new customer would from $0 to $10.

Once you have their trust and attention, you have a valuable resource. Invest your time in it.

Wider Deeper
New customers Existing customers
New sales Upselling
Advertising Building dialog and relationships

I suggest you start looking at building a community for your fans. Consider it their “home”. This is the subject of a whole new guide altogether, so I can’t cover the “how” right here.
Recently I’ve started experimenting with a private Slack Community for my projects, thanks to this recommended resource on community building.


“Darling, my attitude is ‘fuck it’; I’m doing everything with everyone.”
– Freddie Mercury

Now you are growing your list, you need to unleash your inner Rockstar.

Let’s contrast these two ways of marketing your business by describing them as marketing like a Rockstar and marketing like a Politician. Sure, not all Politicians are jerks and not all Rockstars are cool. But most are… so, allow me to use a little creative license here.

Everyone wants to be a Rockstar, but most people end up as Politicians.


Because Politicians don’t live life on their own terms. They are not in control of what they do or say. They live in fear, and ultimately they make little difference in people’s lives.

How many Politicians had dreams of “Change” or to “Drain the Swamp” only to end up like the rest of them?

There’s a reason for this. They weren’t born like that. It’s the rules of the game.

Politicians live to please other people. They need 51% of the vote to win. You can’t win an election with just 10% of the population loving you and the other 90% indifferent to (or hating) what you do.

One mistake, one wrong word could sink your career. Media analyzes every detail. A Politician’s life is driven by this fear of making mistakes. That’s why everything they say, everything they do is sanitized not to offend. A team of PR experts carefully check and edit every word. Politicians don’t even write their own speeches.

Politics becomes self-selecting, so those who speak their mind don’t last long. The ones who survive are the ones who learn to master of not answering the question, saying nothing and saying it often.

They set out to please but what do they achieve? When Politicians stand in front of crowds, they stand behind bulletproof screens and protected by a security detail. And when a Politician dies, who cries? Who throws flowers on their grave? No one. Nobody misses them.

Rockstars, however, don’t care what the many think.

Theirs is a different game in which they don’t need to please 51% of the people around them to win. A Rockstar only needs to get 10% to love what they do. Screw the rest, their opinions don’t count. Rockstars don’t stand fear the crowd, they crowd surf.

Rockstars create art. They create what they feel. If a Rockstar doesn’t write her own music, she gets relegated to the league of lesser “Pop Stars”. Their work is the work of the heart: love, happiness, fear, dreams, pain, regret and relationships. They go beyond the bullshit. They speak the truth and sometimes that hurts.

Look at the top 7 selling musicians of all time:

  • Elvis Presley
  • The Beatles
  • Madonna
  • The Rolling Stones
  • Elton John
  • Pink Floyd
  • Led Zeppelin

Sexuality, drugs or social issues. Every single one of them has courted controversy in a way that no politician’s career could endure.

  • If a Politician is caught in bed with a stripper or smoking a joint, all hell is let loose. They are forced to publicly apologise and then are unceremoniously booted out of office.
  • If a rockstar does the same, album sales go up.

Think about it for a minute.

Politicians wear dull suits and ties. Is their anything more cringeworthy than watching candid video of Politician dancing after-hours at the party congress? Rockstars cross dress, wear makeup, leather, chains and tattoos.

Who’s having the most fun in their lives?

Getting elected is a seriously expensive business. Leave that to the Cokes and the Microsofts of this world, they have that kind of budget. Plus, it’s rather dull. You, however, can think differently.

Let’s look at how Rockstars and Politicians differ in their marketing:

Rockstar Politician
Goal is to be love by the passionate few Goal is to be liked by the indifferent many
What you see is what you get Says “we” a lot to refer to himself
Chooses to be more human, more vulnerable Chooses to hide behind corporate BS, behind the website, behind his job title
Crowd surfs. Talks to you personally when you contact the site, sends you a follow-up message when you buy product, responds to your emails Outsources all of that to a VA in the Philippines
Says what she feels because she knows exactly who she’s saying it for Worries about alienating customers, so waters down the message not to offend
Does the graveyard shift on Youtube, puts in the content, gets out there to the frontline Turns up at your door or in your inbox when he wants something, then disappears for 4 years
Hits Publish, makes mistakes, fuck it…it’s rock’n’roll, she’ll face the music later Hits Edit because … mistakes


You’re a human being not a robot so you have strengths and weaknesses. These strengths and weaknesses play out in your business too.

Once you have control over your diary, you need to focus on your strengths.

Let’s say you’re a photographer and you take amazing photos. But turn the camera back on yourself and you run a mile. What do you do? This is a problem because you need to sell your product for people to get interested in it, but how do you do that when you don’t like being in the limelight?

Instead of turning the camera back on yourself, maybe you could turn it on your early customers? Instead of selling your story on the website, why not focus on them and their experiences from your photography services?

Maybe you’re a good public speaker and you love the buzz of being up there on stage.

Maybe you’re much better at crafting effective emails or writing sales copy for your site.

If you’re right-handed, you don’t worry that you can’t write with your left hand, do you? You learn at a young age to focus on making your right hand the best it can be whether it’s writing or holding a knife or opening doors. The same is true of left-handers although they face a few more logistical challenges being in the minority.

So, when it comes to your marketing, you should think the same way. Find the marketing channel that really works for you and double down your time and resources on it.

You might be getting lost wondering why you’re struggling on Twitter or people aren’t watching your Youtube videos. Well, I’ll guess that it’s because you’re trying to write with your wrong hand.

“But I’m not good at selling”

I hear this a lot. The problem is that we associate selling with that guy in the mobile phone store or the used car dealer.

But, we all live by selling. Maybe you haven’t discovered how you sell yet.

Look at this list of ways of selling:

  • Writing a blog post
  • Recording a video
  • Presenting on stage
  • Mentoring a group
  • Hosting a podcast
  • Portrait photographs
  • Writing an ebook
  • Telemarketing
  • Networking at a conference

They are all very different, and some people are good one one and not at the others. And, it’s the same with you. There is a way you get out there and shine, that thing you do that nobody else does as well as you. Rather than being just “that thing you do” start thinking about it as a marketing channel.

Doubling down doesn’t mean doing more.

It means doing less of what doesn’t work.

By doing less of the low value stuff, you’ll naturally free up space and time to do what produces results.


The WANTREPRENEUR is not dead yet.

He is back to “protect you” once again with his comforting bullshit.

This time, his voice is going to protect you from the scary business of stepping outside your comfort zone and chasing customers worthy of your business. Instead, he’s going to make it easy for you with a comforting distraction.

Field mice…

Field mice are easy to catch. They are small and don’t put up much resistance.

If you were a lion, you could catch and eat a lot of field mice in a day. I don’t know the calorific value of a field mouse, but I’m guessing it’s pretty small, less than a bite of a leg of chicken. For a lion, that’s not nearly enough. Plus, you’ll be running round all day catching them.

Antelope are hard work. Antelope are big animals that run fast and require a lot of effort. But, if you catch an antelope you can feed a whole pride of lions for several days.

Hunting field mice gives you an immediate sense of satisfaction – you can get results within minutes. But, if you keep hunting them you’ll eventually starve and die.

A field mouse is someone who isn’t your target customer but regularly interacts with you around your marketing.

Field mice can be comforting but they will also kill you.

A field mouse is someone who loves what you do and keeps giving you feedback but doesn’t want to spend $5 on your product. They appear to be fans but they will never buy from you.

This person takes up mind space and  you feel guilty ignoring because you feel they are giving you a lot of useful feedback. They aren’t they are clouding your vision. Their feedback only shapes your business to attract more field mice.

Field Mice will seek free access to your most valuable resource – your time, and you should guard it wisely.

Sure, they have a role to “like” your social media and share it in their networks but keep them at a distance.

Antelopes are less obvious targets. They don’t flirt around your social media like Field Mice do. That doesn’t mean they’re not interested, they just place value on their own (and other people’s) time.

Focus on the customers who are going to help you grow your business, not the ones who are easy to catch.



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