Low-Cost Marketing: 5 Creative Ways to Get Business With a Tiny Budget

Publicity

Marketing is essential for any business, but what if you don’t have a marketing budget? Never fear, you can do great things with tiny budget.

Let’s look at five creative ways.

1. Leverage Google with Google+ Local

Everyone searches with Google. If you haven’t yet joined Google+, do that now. The people who are searching for you and your products are in your local area, so your Google+ Local entry will get you business. Cost: zero, just the time it takes to create your entry.

Creating a Google+ Local page is easy. Google explains:

Local Google+ pages are unique from other categories of pages because they have features that allow customers to easily connect with that business’s physical location. For example, local pages include a map of the business’s location and feature its address, phone number, and hours of operation. Local pages also share the functionality of other Google+ pages – you can create and manage circles, start and join hangouts, and share content like posts and photos.

2. Network creatively

No, I’m not suggesting that you go to your local Chamber of Commerce meetings, although that couldn’t hurt.

Think about reciprocal marketing: you promote others, and they promote you.

Let’s say you own a pet shop. You can’t afford the rent in the high traffic streets in your town, so your business is on a side street. Reciprocal marketing would help you to get known.

Call on other local businesses, and introduce yourself. Watch for reciprocal opportunities. For example, you could promote your local veterinarians, and they could keep a stack of your business cards and flyers for their customers.

3. Get them talking – encourage word-of-mouth referrals

Think about ways you could encourage business referrals. If you’re in a service business, and have a client roster, give your clients a little something extra whenever they refer someone to you.

4. Go retro with paper: use personal letters and postcards

Think in terms of personal letters, rather than mass mailings. Everyone loves to receive letters. Yes, letters take time to write. However they do make an impact.

Recently one of my clients, a management consultant, landed a $25,000 contract which stemmed from a letter he wrote. The letter took him 30 minutes to write; time well spent.

5. Get publicity: PR always works

Many years ago when I was still a romance writer, I was working at a company which spent enormous sums on display ads in Sunday newspapers.

One day I wrote a press release and send it out to local media. That single press release had huge effect. Not only did the business get mentions in newspapers and magazines, a national magazine wrote a complete spread with photographs. Our boss did radio interviews as well as TV appearances.

That single press release had a bigger effect than pricey advertising ever did. It got the business known, and the business traded off that storm of publicity for years.

What’s newsworthy about your business? Publicity is much more valuable than advertising. If you can get press coverage, you’re golden.

These five low-cost marketing methods work for any business, and they work even if you have a tiny budget. Try them.

, and on Twitter: @angee

photo credit: Mr. T in DC via photopin cc

Online Press Releases: Simple and Effective Marketing

Online Press Releases
For one month, I wrote a press release a day for a client. He was starting a new business. His advertising budget was minimal.

He decided to invest his complete advertising budget into online press releases. He wasn’t trying to attract media attention (just as well, because he didn’t get it), he was aiming to build an online presence fast.

Here’s the thing: he got a trickle of traffic, sure. But for over a year later, he made SALES to customers who told him they’d first heard of his company online.

Publicity isn’t what it used to be. Instead of getting a story in the media, it’s all about getting found.

Getting found starts when you choose your keywords for your releases carefully. This article, 4 Simple Ways to Get More Mileage Out of Your Press Release, offers good advice:

“Once you have your list of keywords, use them in the headline and subhead of your release, as well as throughout the body of the announcement -– just make sure that the release still sounds natural and makes sense. Avoid over-repetition by using secondary and tertiary keywords, too.

When including hyperlinks in your release, Mark Scott, Global Public Relations Manager for NCR, also recommends you link to what your product does or your keywords, not your product name.”

To repeat, you’re writing for your target audience, not “the press”.

Here’s why you should consider an online press release campaign:

* It’s cheaper than advertising;

* It’s gives you results as long as your releases stay online;

* You can build an online presence quickly;

* You can educate your customers so that they’re intrigued — they become warm leads. Your press releases can include media like PDFs, images, and video;

* Social media can spread your press releases, giving you a wider distribution.

A tip: remember that your online press releases aren’t advertising, and shouldn’t be written as advertising. Look on them as being factually-based, and educational, rather than persuasive.

Pitching? Make It Easy to Take Action

When you’re pitching someone, make it easy for them to help you.

For example, the blog The One Thing Killing Your Blogger Outreach suggests:

“PR has been in the content business for a very long time and now it’s even more important, because content fuels everything we do online. Along with the stats and bullet points for the research within the email pitch, an infographic or a link to a summary of the research plus suggested social shares would have provided something to take action on.”

I’ve got lots of blogs, so I receive pitches every day. Most pitches are junk; they’re blatant spam.

A few however, are great. The pitches are relevant to my audience. Sadly, the flacks sending out the pitches never seem to think about how they could make things easier for those they’re pitching.

We’re all pressed for time, so if you ask me to do something for you that takes longer than a minute or two, I’ll delete the message.

Example: if you ask me to interview an author about a new book, I’ll pass. I’d love to do it, but the interview and then writing up an article will take several hours. That’s a big chunk out of my day, even if I love the author and the book.

On the other hand, if you send me a link to a Web page with an author interview, or a PDF of the author talking about his book, if I like the author and book, I’ll post it on Twitter.

When you make it easy for people to help you, it makes them want to help you.

I’m grateful when someone asks me to do something which will benefit my audience, and only takes a minute. Everyone is.

So, go ahead. Pitch me. If it’s relevant, and you make it easy, I’m happy to help.

The Brand Called You: Develop a Personal Branding Statement and Tagline

You're a Star
You’re a Star

Got a brand? Whether you know it or not, you do. Unfortunately, it may not be the brand you want. Your personal and professional contacts think of you as “the guy who…”

Think about how others see you for a moment.

Is this image flattering, or not so much?

There’s a reason professionals employ image consultants. :-)

Tom Peters wrote The Brand Called You way back in 1997. Peters wrote:

Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.

It’s that simple – and that hard. And that inescapable.

Knowing How to Present Yourself Is Hard

You’re in charge of your own image. You teach others how to look at you. Most of us get an image by default.

Professionals craft their image. Politicians know how important it is to stay “on message”, and movie stars employ PR people to carefully build their image.

You can craft your own image too, so that you present yourself memorably to your audiences. Remember: you teach others how to look at you. To do that, you need to see yourself clearly first.

When I develop a brand statement, my first step is to get to know the client. I want to know his history, we can choose his defining moments, and use them to frame his story.

From that, we develop his personal branding statement, and tagline.

I like to create several versions of a branding statement, short and long, so that the client can use them in his marketing materials, and of course with his resume and other materials if he’s job hunting.

Think of the tagline as a slogan. It encapsulates who you think you are. You need to be comfortable with your tagline.

For example, my tagline for my copywriting brand is “putting it into words.” For my work with writers, it’s “when writing isn’t just a career, it’s a life.”

My taglines are ME, your tagline (or taglines, if you have several audiences), needs to be YOU.

Take your time when you’re crafting your own branding statement and tagline. There’s no rush.

You’ll know when it’s right: it will feel good – it will be you.

Tip: when you’re crafting your personal branding statement, avoid the kind of “say nothing, mean nothing” jargon-filled gobbledegook you find in company mission statements. Be REAL. This is your brand, no one else’s. You’re an original. Allow your branding statement to reflect that. When it comes from who you really are, developing an image is much easier.

Once you’ve created your personal branding statement, you’ll have taken the first steps in building and managing your image, so that you can build the career and life you want.

What to do now

  • Write your life in 200 words. Hit the high points. This is your mini-autobiography;
  • Tell the stories of your defining moments (choose two or three);
  • Craft a tagline;
  • Create a personal branding statement.

, and on Twitter: @angee