This is Marketing On the Cheap

My Thank You Marketing Campaign by Sue-Ann Bubacz

I started my company on a shoestring and by instituting the simplest, cheapest and most effective marketing campaign in the world.

My “Thank You Marketing Campaign” as I have since named it, faithfully served—and still serves me—in the most abundant way.

I’ll tell the tale but, know this: Marketing boils down to value.

You value your customer, and they value you. Period.

Venturing into the digital channel and exploring online marketing only echoes what I’ve known all along. Marketing and business are synonymous. They work best as one.

Your business is cloaked within your marketing efforts, encompassing every single aspect, and what reflects back to the company/brand. It’s as small as a business card font, as interactive as a salesperson’s handshake, and as visual as a recognized corporate color/logo.

Then there’s your web presence. Go ahead and call it Digital Marketing, Content Marketing, and E-commerce all you want, I call it marketing, plain and simple.

Market from the Heart and Get the Word Out for FREE!

Marketing with everything I had—so pretty much nothing but a grateful heart—led me to be an appreciative business owner. I learned to thank my customers, and often, and out loud, and in writing, and in unexpected ways, very early on.

Look, the fact is, I started my business by accident, but marketing it, even with no budget at first, and somewhat by instinct, had a purpose. Essentially it is the same purpose as you have right this minute for your business. Online or off.

While I don’t recommend the accidental approach to becoming a business owner, tumbling in like Alice to Wonderland forced me to shake it off and think on my feet. Like quick.

Oh, if my young self only knew what I now know about marketing and business, or is it the other way around? Shocking surprises, fascinations, and lessons awaited both Alice and me in our accidental journeys.

Except, I had no choice but to make it happen. So I suppose you can say I was determined.

Failing was not in my vocabulary or thinking, even though, at the same time, I was scared to death. I needed customers. I needed to find them, have them, and keep them.

Customers = Sales = Business

It’s just that simple.

Unless you accidentally become a business owner, (hey, it happens, at least to me) in which case you may face some additional challenges, specifically:

No time

No plan

No money

No marketing department

Heck…No one.

Just me. Luckily I was young, hardworking, and perfectly business naïve enough to just go for it!

In the beginning, the heart leads the way. Desire, maybe it is, in part.

At any rate, enthusiasm for your business, and for what you do, and adopting a positive outlook towards what I warn you will be an uphill climb, drives both marketing and business success.

People often tell me I have a lot of “enthusiasm”, and sometimes I find it funny. Because it seems like it’s a dirty word or something, or maybe they don’t expect it (I’ve been at it more than 25 years and all! Ha), or sadly, maybe they aren’t used to enthusiasm in business dealings.

Whatever the case, the truth is, I am enthusiastic about my business, and I think you should be, too. Enthusiasm goes well with and grows from, businesses that work from the heart. Like me.

It never grows old, even as milestones and anniversaries and years in business continue.

True Tales from My “Thank You Marketing Campaign.”

Now I invite you to read my honest and true journey into marketing and business because the lessons I learned along the way translate to important insights into marketing that may help you.

And, (good news!) are applicable both online and off.

Sooo, here goes my tale. Please let me know what you think by commenting.

thank you marketing campaign by Sue-Ann Bubacz @ kikolani

One little customer. One little thank you. One big insight.

Humble beginnings may be an understatement in my case.

The point is, I had little to work with besides my young and mega hardworking, agile and enthusiastic twenties self when I found myself knee deep—suddenly, a business owner.

I was so scared shitless (is it okay to write that?), I NEVER told anyone for a number of years, in fact, I even owned a business.

But I realized early on, there is one thing I truly felt (besides panic)— an appreciation for my customers. Each and every one, no matter how much they spent.

One young kid came in a lot when I first opened and spent very little. I appreciated his small regular sale and always thanked him, chatting him up a little.

But he was so shy, all he ever said was “I need a (fill in the blank item)” so, he became known to everyone as “Anita” as a little side giggle because he never said anything else, just gave his order.

He smiled a lot while I yapped at him, maybe.

Then one day he came in (maybe after a year or more of coming by) and said to me, “Aren’t you ever, not ever, in a bad mood?” Wow, wee. Anita spoke. Life altering.

I was dancing on clouds that day. I was making my shy young customer happy with my happy chat along with his purchase and he thought I was always happy and in a good mood. Perfect. That’s exactly what I want to hear.

Of course I had bad moods, sick days, sad days, and panic days of all sorts, all along the year or years he was a customer, BUT HE NEVER KNEW IT. Which means I was doing a great job.

Your customers don’t need more aggravation, bad attitudes or negativity to add to their hectic day and troubles. They want a positive, fun, nice, easy experience when they deal with you. Especially when they support you by buying from you.

This is marketing. On the cheap.

Start with a simple “thank you” because it goes a long way.

The Studmuffin Technique.  

I saved up for over a year to afford a business sign, so for a very long time, only people who already knew about the place, knew a business was in the (sign-less) building.

I operated like this for a while because there’s a lot to do to get in any kind of decent order for operating an unexpected business. But…

Soon enough, I realized I needed customers. NOT trying to get any, while I was busy anyway, wasn’t going to work for long.

One of my customers was a guy I affectionately called “Studmuffin” and so came my bright idea to attract new customers.

Instead of the usual “Under New Management” banner to draw new local business, my banner stated in VERY BIG FAT wording that “Studmuffin” was a customer.

Yes, I was trying to stand out, maybe create some buzz, and let people know my business existed in the nameless building but, what came of it was so much more than that.

Not only did my funny, unusual sign pull in new customers, but it became a “thing.”

My regular customers and now new customers too were not only turning up and buying, but they were doing so more often, looking for clues, and joining the discussion because everyone, all over town, wanted to know who “Studmuffin” was.

People were talking about my banner all over town! Curiosity had gripped the public and my banner with a twist had a much bigger impact than expected.

I planned a great sales banner, but I created a publicity campaign by accident.

And the P.R. (public relations) was excellent for both sales and business and long lasting, too. Being talked about in the community is a good thing.

I never told anyone who “Studmuffin” is. He asked me not to.

Sales are marketing; marketing is sales. All mixed up.

This is marketing. On the cheap.

Creating awareness is an important function of marketing and the key to the first door to sales, but the lesson I learned here, and you can use too, is that awareness is a whole lot richer when it’s interactive and brings your ideal customers beyond awareness and into arousing interest in your company. (You know, like wanting to sign up for your list, and not just pop in.)

Geez, the first two parts of my initial “Thank You Marketing Campaign” went pretty darn well.

Marketing is Marketing, Digitally or Not. Here’s Why.

When you value your customer (and you better because you need him/her) everything you do in marketing circles back to that key concept.

Your marketing strategy builds on an understanding of that one thing, that one person, of utmost importance in creating a successful business. A customer is everything.

Your customer.

Because without a customer, you ultimately have nothing. Right?

Realizing your customer is the central core of your marketing and in business, in general, is a critical first step to success. For some reason, I understood this from the get-go.

And my Thank You Marketing Campaign continues to work for me because it comes from a simple theory: value your customer.

What’s easy, free, simple, and goes a long way? Answer: a Thank you. Yep. @SueAnnBubacz

Let me know if you’d like to read the next two parts of my real-life story, marketing on the cheap:

  • The Tell Me, Who I Am Campaign (creating customer buy-in), and,
  • How I Turned Shocking Pink and Started a Flamingo Parade (establishing and building brand)

If so, and with Kristi’s permission, I’ll do a Part 2 post.  Thank you:)

By Sue-Ann Bubacz

I'm a Content Creator for Businesses and I love reading, writing, and learning. I'm also obsessed with producing quality content. In fact, I'll write for your business as if it were my own! Connect with me: on my website or on Twitter

120 replies on “This is Marketing On the Cheap”

¡Muchas gracias! Kikolani es un gran sitio y nos encantaría tenerte de vuelta, a menudo. Gracias por leer y comentar. Cuidar. Sue-Ann
Sue-Ann Bubacz acaba de publicar Esto es la comercialización en el barato

As I was reading this post I had to smile and say, “My goodness, her enthusiasm and authenticity is pouring out all over the place! No wonder her business is successful and ‘Anita’ spoke.” 🙂

Looking forward to reading part 2.

Thank you for the heartfelt comment, Felicia, and the vote for Part 2, too! I better get on it:) Take care and thank you very much for the lovely comment and for reading this post! Sue-Ann. P.s. I wonder where “Anita” is now? Lol

Hey, doing something from ones heart should be part and partial of your marketing. You know what? I saw so many people who were so passionate about what they did and they didn’t even think of marketing by greatly succeeded. Great article, keep on writing!

Ann: I love what you are saying here. And it’s true. Marketing and the heart may very well be the perfect combination for business success! Thank you so much for taking time to comment and for your insight. Thanks, Sue-Ann

Love this, Sue-Ann. Success is not in the number of followers, connections or the latest “get rich quick” strategy. It is really about the art of building relationships. And it appears that comes naturally to you. When we think of customers as individuals and not just another tick mark in the number of followers or sales, we discover success in marketing.

This speaks right to me Sue! Really!

It’s not about the number unengaged people you know or have heard about, it’s about who values your opinion and who would recommend you above all others. Really really strong writing!

You have a new fan!

Hey Sue,

I’ve been in business all my life, this is a simple idea towards business and a good one too. However, I’d like to mention something to ponder, intelligence (IQ) etc, is nothing without the understanding, passion and drive to engage and guide that intelligence towards the goals set, it has to be used properly.


Great point. We can ponder further and add emotional intelligence (EQ) and other leadership traits and know-how that factor in, for operating successful businesses, as well.

But you tie it all up, I think, with a couple key elements: understanding and passion. Thanks so much for stopping and adding to the discussion. Sue-Ann

Hi Jane:

Thanks for the nice comment and please do resource us. We aim to be “fantastic” and appreciate you reading, commenting and linking:) Take care and enjoy the holiday season. Sue-Ann

Dear SUE-ANN BUBACZ, Thank you for your excellent article on “This is Marketing On the Cheap”. By the way, I wish you could add some information in this article but the article is awesome. I want to know more about Studmuffin Technique. can you assist me on this topic? Keep the great writing skill up. Thanks again for giving me a good resource. Waiting for your reply!

Thanks for commenting. I think the point is to take a simple process, like your marketing, with a simple goal, like awareness or new sales and expand your planning and promotions to encompass a larger scope that brings a more public relations feel to it so, like the example in this piece, it reaches wider and has longer staying power, too. Attracting interest, ending in loyalty in your business, is always the bigger objective in marketing. Sometimes the tipping point is that little extra something. In this example, it may have been “creative flair” that, coupled with curiosity, ignited the campaign. Thanks again. Sue-Ann

I really like when businesses realize providing great customer service is marketing. So many big companies spend millions on ads showing how happy and welcoming they are and then see providing customer service as only a cost to be cut. That is so sad, and so annoying as a customer (when I don’t have an option to avoid them – airlines, ISPs, etc.).

But smart businesses realize that good service is the best marketing as you mention above.


You make the perfect point. What you do in business operations IS marketing and it doesn’t take long to figure out that with some companies, especially the big boys or those with a “captive” audience (read monopolies), dollars and other objectives do come before customers! Sadly. Thanks for taking time to check this one out and comment. Sue-Ann


I was a little taken aback with your comment and wanted to think about it a minute before replying because, truly, what you said is every writer’s dream! Thank you so much:)

Now I want to tell you a little secret about this post.

I was so nervous about telling my own little tale and offering readers no useful links, etc. as per the “usual” style post, that I offered to let Kikolani NOT publish it at all. After I sent the draft in for review and approval to publish, I actually followed-up by sending Kristi an email, offering to let her drop the piece.

So you see, your comment and many of the others on this work has been so inspiring for me and I feel so grateful and pleased that my words and story are resonating with folks. Well, thank you again, for reading and commenting and have a great day! Sue-Ann

Hello Sue-Ann,

This was my very first visit to your blog – the post title of “Marketing Love from the Heart” really fascinated me.

My wife and I run 2 small online businessses from our remote Thai village – one is handmade Thai silk and the other internet marketing for beginners. Both businesses use blogs and all our profits are shared to help educate the village children….and the motto of our silk business is “Woven for You Straight From the Heart”

Now you see my interest in your blog post title!

Your enthusiasm for life and your business still shines through and it is so very contagious. No wonder you are very successful. People are magneticaly drawn to people like you Sue-Ann.

Like you we started our online businesses full of enthusiasm with very little marketing budget and even less business savvy. However, we based everything on “our why” – helping to educate the children of our remote and very poor village.

The amazing thing was people bought into our why just as much as what we were offering and so many wanted to help us with our mission. In fact we gave up offering discounts to our loyal newsletter subscribers because none of them ever wanted to use the discount codes as they felt like it was taking money away from the village! My god no wonder we love and are so grateful to every one of our customers!

We build both of our businesses one customer at a time and we were extremely grateful to each and every one of them. We always provided a personalised service and thank you experience that was (and still is) handwritten.

You point about awareness is so critical to anyone’s success online (and offline) and for this we accidentally created a base of advocates.

These were folks who may have been customers of one of our businesses but not necessarily so.

The key point for us was that we never tried to push anyone to buy anything but we helped you out even if you didn’t purchase something. For example so many times we referred prospects onto other bigger silk suppliers as their orders were too big for us to handle as we are just a small handmade silk operation.

BUT we always foillowed up with them to make sure they were being looked after and this simple step created so much goodwill (and many referred customers).

We also shared the experiences from each business and were amazed at just how much. you can share across completely different business formats – all based on “marketing from the heart” – with a good dose of reality and truth!

Apologies for the length – got carried away as this topic is near and dear to us. Marketing from the heart is NOT marketing on the cheap. It takes a lot of efort and commitment but to us its the only way to do business

Best wishes from a vey hot Thai village



What amazing work from the heart you have accomplished and I think your business model speaks louder and stronger than any million dollar marketing campaign. Kudos:)

Thank you so very much for reading this post and taking precious time to write. I appreciate it so very much, like your customers appreciate you! And I think your story is fantastic and one that many can learn something from, so thank you again for sharing it here.

Stay tuned for part two! Lol

Wishing you all the best, Sue-Ann

I really like the insight of the line “Marketing is Marketing, Digitally or Not. Here’s Why” from this article. It’s an important quote inspiring the online marketers. The measured steps always depend on the mind and your brain you implement. The tactics is vital.

I’m trying to dream up my business sign, and nothing in my head is quite as creative as your studmuffin sign. That sounds absolutely hilarious. Also, great that it drove in business! It definitely would have pulled me inside to check it out.


Thanks for the note! Humor can go a long way and, in this case, ignites a little extra curious interest that definitely doesn’t hurt.
Also, being fun or funny is upbeat, and as you know, positive messages are almost always more effective. My advice is to brainstorm a million things to get that one great creative idea. Best wishes. Sue-Ann

Hi Sue,
An impressive and informative information about Marketing on the cheap, after reading this article getting bunches of knowledge and its more admirable, thanks for shared and really enjoyed to reading this article.

i agree with you, if we offer a product to consumer all in us is describe what product we will offer. so we should make good from what we wear until our word.

btw good article, thanks for sharing.. 😀

Hi Sue

Appreciating article!!

Its all about your enthusiasm & hard work. You did a great job. This is a really helpful to each and everyone.
Thanks for sharing this amazing article.

I started a local food delivery business and used the wrong marketing techniques in the beginning which I wasted money on and eventually ran out of the allocated funds before I had a single customer even though most of my potential clients where online looking for the food joints I had no presence here which was a no brainer but I was ill adviced and had to learn the hard way. I have been using the same method of thanking customers making sure they can reach me on my private line and have access to me using chat apps it has increased my word of mouth advertising and I love it for being cheaper than my first strategy.

Thank you for sharing your story. I think many people make a similar mistake (I know I did especially at the beginning) and certain expenses are wasteful until you’ve learned enough, and made enough, to ease in as you go. P.S. I also did very well with minimal expense, via trades and barter and deals, with customers/friends/local businesses. This is a useful little tool when you are getting things going. Sometimes BIG things happen from those tiny collaborations:) Best wishes in your journey to grow your business. Sue-Ann

Reading your story reminded my first time tackling marketing and link building somewhere around 15 years ago. I was new to the market, with not a lot of resources to learn from, and sometimes it was a cold shower.

In time however, with some experience and learning, you can make good marketing for your client if you care about him and his products.

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