Friday, December 22, 2006
If you don't have a website that allows you to change your own content, it can be very expensive to keep content up-to-date. Most web designers charge $80+ an hour - and very little takes less than a few hours to do.
Thus, it's not just recommended, it's essential that you have this capability if you're on a zero budget.
Today, rather than take my word for it, read this article which sums up the WHY of a content management system very nicely. (Evolt, where it's published, is an online community for web developers, so it's written from that perspective, but is still very easy to read and quite comprehensive).
In Oz, I've used a few inexpensive content management systems that I recommend to clients: www.webalive.biz (about $400 a year), www.sauceopen.com.au (around $2k set up plus $150 a month) and www.eknowhow.com.au (about $800 a year). There are literally hundreds more, these are just the Australian based ones that I've used and have been happy with, especially as the latter two include email marketing systems.
PS. Let me know if you've come across any other goodies!
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Most trade mags survive on unpaid contributors. So if you can string a sentence together, have something decent to say and are willing to share your insights, I'd say: what are you waiting for?!
How to actually make it happen? Work out what mags are getting into the hands of your prospective customers - and look at their content. Come up with an idea that would suit their readers and then make a brief pitch to the editor. They'll let you know if they're interested in the story - then all you need to do is write it.
Depending on what and where you're submitting, the same (or slightly modified) story may work across multiple sources. For example, a web based article listing will likely have a different audience than a print mag - so neither will be too concerned if you're article appears on both.
If you decide to go this route, I'd suggest having 4-5 article ideas up your sleeve - as once you've been published once, you should aim to repeat the act every 2-3 months. It costs you nothing but your time and energy - but does wonders for your reputation and awareness.
Monday, November 27, 2006
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
You may be surprised what insight, ideas or inspiration they can provide - all for the cost of a glass of wine.
AskBronny is a great little fashion advice site that has kicked off by relying on friends to provide everything from design, to articles to bloggers (like mine on dressing "Buxom Babes" like myself!). This will eventually morph into a viable web advertising businesses model, and will be able to pay some contributors - but it already looks amazing and professional all because "Bronny" has tapped into her friend's passion for fashion.
So next time you're lamenting over lack of budget, start cruising your personal address book!
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Sending an email newsletter to your own opt-in database is an essential sales and relationship tool for ANY business. But what should this newsletter look like?
To cut your design costs, you should check out what other people are doing for some inspiration and best practice. I came across this great blog on email newsletter design at Campaign Monitor. It links to tonnes of great examples - and takes the time to explain why they link them.
Excellent for some "visual" inspiration. As for content, that's a whole other post!
I was reading an article about the extremely cute and clever Australian business Babybuds (those flowers are actually little singlets and jumpsuits!). As with all new businesses, they had little money to spend on marketing in the beginning, so they focussed on zero budget marketing ideas. One of these was looking for online communities or information websites where they could get a free listing.
Whilst there's a plethora of baby and kid information sites, there's also more than 100 million sites on the web. So start looking for ones that might provide a free listing for your business!
Saturday, November 11, 2006
It takes an excellent product or service, passionate customers - and time.
The St Jerome's Laneway Festival is a beautiful case-study in word of mouth and buzz. Originally started as a one off party for a bar (St Jeromes) the owner - Jerome of course - knew that all he had to do was create something great...and be prepared to wait. Three years later, you've got a national festival, sponsors knocking at your door and still an event that people rave about.
Moral of today's story - it won't happen overnight, but be committed to both doing it well and letting it grow - and it WILL happen.
I love a clever little 3-dimesional marketing piece. This one got me because it would be really cheap to do, esp if you've only got a small quantity of people to mail.
The concept has a long breadstick which when you pull it out, is "stamped" with a message proclaiming "Our new oven makes this look like a dinner roll". Clever, huh?
So what's your cost on this. Rubber stamp, paper, bread, your time to deliver. Say a couple of days and a few hundred dollars. Not bad for a big impact.
Of course, the tricky bit is the idea! So get cracking...
And I had to think - gee, that's actually expensive. You mail the 6,000 people on my dbase for example and it would cost you $8,400 - and that's BEFORE you design anything.
Compare this to the cost of a personalised html email. To email 6,000 people it costs me $60. $8,400 versus $60. Sorry, Aussie Post, just no contest. Even if I did have the dosh, I'd rather spend it on email. I could use telemarketing to build a list AND send it for the same budget...and then keep sending...
So the moral of the story is: get working on building your opt-in email database!
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Righto, so you can't afford a website? Why not get a MySpace page happening!
Now I'm not on MySpace - but I keep hearing about it so much, I thought I should give it a cruise. And I find it's a great mish-mash of a personal website, personal blog, music sharing, social networking, advertising, interaction, etc. And pretty customisable, peopled by tres cool people. I even found two people's sites I knew within a few clicks...now I find that very impressive, especially since I'm not that cool!
So if you're a groovy young brand, or hip freelancer, that wants to interact, be a touch edgy, then make your first foray into MySpace. It's TOTALLY zero budget and you're bound to earn some cool points...
Vouchers - one of my favourite, yet underutilised, retail marketing tools - are even better that I thought.
You see, I was running a "Zero Budget Marketing" seminar for Wella. And I said that the crew at Loyalty Magic had confirmed for me what I'd always suspected - that when you get given a gift voucher, you spend on average 5-8 times the value of the voucher.
And this is where the hairdresser of my story says - try 10-20 times. You seen, his chain is SuperCuts. They hand out $10 "cheques" that people can bring in to cash in on a haircut/colour/style/etc.
He said people regularly brought these in and spent close to $200 - and this was a COMMON occurence.
So for all those who doubt the value of giving away a little something for nothing, I offer this story. $10 to get $200 - and a guaranteed sale, not $10 that MIGHT bring you $200.
Retailers - go give away more gift vouchers!
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
This little email ad from Red Balloon Days was a case in point. It's not a clothing label, nor is it even a consumer brand. It's a (mostly corporate) experiences and gift brand. So my first instinct would be to say don't use a retail marketing tool like discounting. Yet it got me to click...and I hardly think I'm the only one that will.
So perhaps taking a marketing hint from a completely different industry and trialling it isn't such a bad idea. Except for your reduced margin, using a cheap tool like email and limiting the time of the offer (eg. 24 hours) is a pretty cheap way to test an inexpensive little marketing tool.
Saturday, June 17, 2006
And don't just take my word for it.
Roy Morgan presented a paper in Prague at the 12th Worldwide Readership Research Symposium (try saying that quickly and three times in a row!).
At any rate, they showed the difference in Return on Investment on the two ads below.
The first headline says: When they change the way they make people, we'll change the way we make bread.
The second headline says: We've put fibre in Roman Meal for 75 years because people need fibre from day one.
Which do you think worked best?
In terms of persuasion performance, if the second ad returns $100,000, the ad on the
right returns $258,000. The second ad basically kicks butt over the first (and it helps that the headline actually matches the pic)
You know, if you have a compelling enough marketing message and offer, it doesn't take much to have a big impact. So back on a bit of a recurring theme, but perhaps it's time to take a bit of a risk and put something out in the marketing that makes it hard for people not to want more.
I decided to check out futurist Faith Popcorn's site when doing some research and I think her extremely simple site - breaking many rules as it has no real information - starts with a hugely compelling message: if you could know everything about tomorrow, what would you do differently today?
Get's you thinking, doesn't it. It then just goes to a screen that says "Let's Talk" and provides her contact details. And if you were in the target market that could afford her services, I'm sure you would pick up the phone.
One simple question but you know immediately why you should call. I was impressed. How can you make your message this compelling?
Thursday, June 15, 2006
The Australian Information Industry Association has put together an SME marketing guide. Whilst it's a tech association, the vast majority of the info in the guide applies to all sorts of small business.
It also has a bunch of great case studies in it. Best of all, it's free. So download it today and build your marketing knowledge for nicks!
(And by the way - what a great way to build a database - giving away valuable free information - and idea for another post!)
And it truly scares me how few businesses have one.
Outlook & excel really aren't enough, access can be clunky and decent CRM (customer relationship management) systems usually start at well over the $1,000 a seat.
When looking for a local email marketing provider for a client, I came across Vision6. They provide email and sms services. But they will also host your database. And you can add all the fields you want in this database, give people access to update their own details if you want, search it and access it from anywhere AND build lists to market to based on criteria. It even has some handy auto email functions.
So it occured to me, this is also a great zero budget database solution. For under 1000 records it's $30 a month - you can't get much cheaper than that!
I'm sure there's other providers out there offering something similar. So why not use this as an inexpensive, centrally accessible database tool - with the bonus that you can then use it on a fee per use option if you decide to use for email marketing.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
TRUE customer loyalty to a brand or business is often built when a company gets something wrong - then admits it and bends over backwards to fix it.
You see, we've come to expect good service and for things to work. So when they do work, no-one notices (just think about your average IT guy or girl). Yet when something goes wrong, you ALWAYS notice. And there's a real moment of truth for a company in how it deals with that.
Many companies fail dismally. Just check out Not Good Enough to hear some stories that will curl your toes. Yet think about the last time someone went out of their way to fix up a mistake made...and how many people you told. We often only notice GOOD service when it's correcting (or contrasting) to BAD service.
In the 1990's I worked for a major telco that made a major bungle. We accidentally "churned" a bunch of people to our service without their written permission. A whole bunch of them. Panic stations ensued when the tech guys told us what had happened...and that to churn them BACK without their consent would be mistake number 2.
So we made a tough call - we decided to send a letter to these people and admit our error and ask what they wanted us to do. Of the thousands of letters we sent out, have a guess how many people opted to churn back? All? Half? A quarter?
Actually, about a hundred. Well under 5%. And we had a bunch of calls from people gushing about how nice it was to see some honesty in business and that as a result of admitting that mistake, they'd decided we were the company for them.
So for a zero budget idea to build massive brand loyalty, make sure you deal with customer issues, complaints and problems in a timely manner - and go out of your way to fix them if you can. You'll then start to achieve marketing nirvana - customers as advocates.
Imagine the board meeting, years and years ago, when someone pitches this positioning line to Avis management:"Avis is only no.2 in rent-a-cars".
I mean, now we know it's a great marketing success story. But imagine the bravery of taking a negative, admitting it...and then turning it into a positive.
Imagine an accountant that says: The bill might hurt...but your business will feel so much better
Or a food that says: We might taste terrible, but we're ridiculously good for you (spirulina anyone?)
Or a bank that admits: Yes we have fees...but we have the service to match
I'm not a copywriter, but you get the idea. You see, brands like Joy (the most expensive perfume in the world) and Listerine (a taste you hate twice a day) took a negative, were honest and then spun a positive. Yes, these are big brands that had the advertising might to make sure we knew about them, but even for a small budget business, this type of positioning statement gets massive cut through.
But are you big enough to admit a negative?
You see, as much as we'd all like to take the high road, the reality is the low road is crowded with the easily titilated and amused.
A year or so ago we had some movie tickets to give away (to The Secretary, famous for it's "spanking" scene) in return for people completing a online survey. Instead of using an email subject line of "Complete our online survey for free double pass" I went with "Fancy a little sadomasochism and romance?". We had DOUBLE the usual email open rate to this database - almost 60%!
Forget being sleazy or sexist - but take a risk and appeal to people's naughty side. We all have one...why else do you think something like Sexpo keeps selling out year after year...
By sexing it up I'm not only talking about sex - but making something more sexy. There is so much utter drudge produced in marketing materials that something with a bit of sparkle and shimmer will catch your prospects eye so much better. Name an event "Selling Cool" instead of "Youth marketing". Send a chocolate telephone instead of leaving another unanswered message. Use some funky graphics instead of staid corporate stock shots. Have some bloody fun with your marketing!
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
I subscribe to several great newsletters and updates and I get great ideas from these all the time. So don't get too insular about you're day-to-day job. Make sure you allocate half an hour each day to checking out what other's are up to.
My real faves at the moment:
For some DM hints:
For some copywriting ideas:
Let me know if you have any that should be added to the list!
It's also great to get some more fun mails to see what clever and groovy people are doing. Check out:
Image courtesty of: http://floppycheese.free.fr/timsroom/style-5/style-5.htm
I was reminded of this great idea reading one of Geoffrey McDonald Bowll's "Guerilla Guide" articles in Marketing.
So what am I talking about? Repeating what you've done that has worked in the past. Sometimes we feel like we always need to come up with new ideas. But something that's worked previously has some real benefits: It's already tested and you'll already know what to expect.
After seven years of running events for marketers, I KNOW certain topics will work well. So as much as I might not need to see the presentation again, a new generation of marketers and attendees will.
Similarly, you can look for inspiration in PAST places you've worked. Cast your mind back? What worked there that you can apply to your current business?
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
I've recently become the proud (and weary) owner of a puppy - and I came across this great little Aussie invention: The Pet Loo. And the company name of the producer - Pup-Pee Solutions.
I love it - you know what they do without them having to say a word more!
So if you have one of those generic names - you know XYZ consulting - considering changing your business name to something more meaningful. If that's out of the quesion, can you add a descriptive word to the name - XYZ tax consulting. Businesses often resist this as they are concerned it will make prospects consider them too narrowly - but I'd argue it's better to be known for something, than not known at all!
Monday, May 22, 2006
In this case, UTS have used the tried and true method that is still VASTLY underutilised by most marketers. They've GIVEN AWAY their product. You sign up and get a $5 credit to trial it. So it probably COSTS them as little as a $1 - and they've got all your details, they've got you to learn how to use the product.
$1 per cost of acquisition - for a service that's about $60 a year when you convert. So one conversion covers the cost of your next 59 customers....You can't get more zero budget than that!
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Email marketing is the friend of zero budget marketers. It's fast, effective - and extremely inexpensive once you've built up your opt in list.
But you need to keep working on it, even more so now that anti-spam filters are getting more prevalent. It's just too frustrating to have your email blocked by someone who's actually requested it.
So make the effort to run your email through a SPAM checking service, like ezinecheck.com. It will let you know the "spam score" of your email and a few quick changes can be the difference between your mail getting through or it hitting the virtual bin!
Friday, May 12, 2006
Australian business, Entertainment House, is one of the top sellers of DVDs and CDs on ebay. It only costs them a few dollars per sale - yet once people have bought from them, they become an Entertainment House customer and not just an ebay customer. Entertainment House can then legitimately market to those customer's who've opted in to hear more for them.
So they've made a sale, added a customer to their database - all for a few dollars, which they make back in profit from the sale. A perfect zero budget marketing technique.
Could you sell anything on ebay? Even if you're a service, you'd be surprised what you can do. Take the guy selling half price "paintball" sessions. Once people get there, they usually play more, they make additional margin and they've overcome the biggest hurdle most businesses face - getting them to buy the first time. Go on, get a bit creative...
So at the request of one of the directors, they ran a short term promotion where they waived this initial $50 fee - and got FOUR times their normal membership conversion. So the barrier to purchase was removed and they had a big jump in their members, who are far more likely to rent the cars.
So what is a new, eager to buy customer worth to you. What might you "forgoe" in order to gain a long term benefit?
Getting others to cover your promotional costs is something I always tell people to do - and they always look at me like I'm a little crazy. But I've found a great example of this done by a Sydney promotions agency, DKM.
They've produced this little 16 page magazine, with several articles that offer real value but still tout the "promotional products" message. They've then arranged to have it distributed with Marketing and B&T - and sold off advertising space over about 9 pages to help fund the entire thing.
Very clever, great reach - and according to Niche Media who did the production and design - it's got the attention of other marketers, who've been calling Niche to ask how the whole thing came together.
Who could you be working with to help offset (or totally fund) the cost of your promotions?
Monday, March 13, 2006
When thinking about how to successfully market a business, don't always assume you'll need to do something new and expensive. Do a check of existing resources you have - for example, your database, your office or storefront, your staff.
How might you utilise these resources to build your business?
I just love this window of a burger shop (BBNT) in Melbourne's King St - it's engaging, it "positions" the business and it makes you smile. Good to know if I ever become a "guru", "mistress" or "courier" I can get my lunch here!
What is being "underutilised" in your business that a wee bit of ingenuity, humour - and maybe sign writing - can get some mileage out of?