How to Engage Customers on a Shoestring Budget

The best ideas that become products build communities around them to keep the budget as low as possible and chum the waters for the market frenzy to come. Without the successful development of a community around an idea, product businesses never realize their full potential, and eventually are sold for peanuts, or close within a year of their launch. While building interest in a great product is something you can invest in to get as many eyes as possible on the product, sustainable businesses build communities to drive growth.

Marketing Campaign vs. Community Building

When considering the difference between Marketing and Community Building, it’s important to understand the difference between both. Marketing encompasses advertising and showing the world what it is that you and your product have to offer. Marketing is a game of views that generates awareness of your product’s brand. Using clever relatable messaging strategies will capture the attention of a passerby, and hopefully earn you a click. The greatest aspiration of effective marketing is to provide an observer motivation to remember that your product exists, and maybe, just maybe, they would be excited enough to tell their friends about what they saw.

Community Building works in reverse. Where Marketing engages potential customers as they go through their everyday, when you pursue a Community Building strategy, you start by engaging the customers because of who they are first, and then show them what your product has to offer them. The majority of the legwork in Community Building is in establishing your business within a community of a shared interest and building credibility by providing transparency about who you are, what your business is about, and lastly what products may suit their specific needs. 

Where to Start

Building a community around your product starts by putting yourself, as a creator, out there with the community that you will impact the most. Attending local events, trade shows, and traditional networking is the first step to establishing a community. This approach leads to supporters of you and your business first, and potential customers second. 

How to Cultivate and Grow

Advertisements get put in front of all of us every day, and it’s a numbers game. The more money you put into ads, the more ads you get out in front of potential customers, and if you get it in front of enough people, then statistically, you will convert a percentage of that population into customers. When you choose to build a community around your product, you are essentially recruiting advocates for your business who may not have the same reach as advertisements do, but there will be a much higher percentage of conversion per touchpoint that a potential customer has with your product’s brand and business.


As a business owner, it’s important to optimize the resources that you have at your disposal. Both Marketing and Community Building are effective ways to engage consumers and convert them into customers. If you have set aside a marketing budget to grow, use it, optimize it, and refine as you expand your campaign. If financial resources are limited, then the best asset to help grow your business will always come down to you and sharing your passion for your product with the people who will benefit from it most.

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