Friday, December 22, 2006

Manage your own website content

Zero Budget Marketers need to be online. But your online content needs to be dynamic, updating regularly so that your news/stories/case studies/products are always up to date.

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: (about $400 a year), (around $2k set up plus $150 a month) and (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

Why hasn't someone thought of this before?

You know the cheapest and easiest way to market a product or service? Come up with one that people think is so clever, but so simple to understand, that people say to you: Why hasn't someone thought of this before?

Too often businesses come up with something they know how to do, rather than something the market wants and needs. As a marketing consultant, when this happens, you know you've got a long, tough road ahead. Sometimes you can still make it fly - but the job is a LOT harder.

I was reminded of the beauty of a simple idea when I met the co-founder of Club Deck. You most probably haven't heard of them, but they have thousands of customers - little and big. They produce sports cards for everyone - clubs, teams and players. You no longer than to be a world series baseball player or AFL footy legend to have your own card.

The two founders came up with the idea at a barbeque, fleshed out the concept, went out to see if they could sell it - and two meetings later ( you don't get more "Zero budget" than attending a couple of meetings) they found they could quit their corporate jobs and head out on their own full time. Why? Because the first two big sports centres they visited said....Why hasn't someone thought of this before?

So next time you're cooking up a new business idea, product or service, looks for the simple and clever opportunities that could be staring you in the face. Marketing and selling is then the EASY part.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

If a picture tells a thousand words, you can't afford not to use them!

Human beings are visual creatures. We love a photo (especially of ourselves, but let's move on!) and images in your promotional items can really add to the professionalism and appeal of your materials.

These days it doesn't even need to hurt your budget to use lots of pics in your web, email and print comms due to a fab site called If you have yet to visit this wonder, they have over a million royalty free images, which you can buy in low res for US$1 - I don't really need to say much else, as it doesn't get much more zero budget than that!

Tap into your inner writer

Instead of hoping for some PR coverage, why not go out and create your own media stories.

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.

Use the festive season to reconnect and do a little good

Ok, we all know Christmas is about too much of everything - eating, drinking, spending and marketing.

So throw your hands up and give into it. I'm talking about the using the humble christmas card for a little bit of good will...and a little bit of marketing.

Step 1: Order some christmas cards from your preferred charity. This year ours came from The Prostate Cancer Foundation or check out the Combined Charities Christmas Shop.

Step 2: Set aside half a day to actually write a personal message on them - just a signature isn't enough.

Step 3: Buy some stamps and actually send them BEFORE xmas.

Do not go the electronic card route - yes, yes, less trees involved and all that jazz, but we all know you're doing it cause it's cheaper and faster.

Staying in business is about tending relationships. This little exercise will cost you all of about $50 and may give your contacts that nice little feeling everyone gets when they feel remembered and valued.

Go on, start writing today!

ps. And if you want to go all out, why dont you donate a reasonable sum of money "on behalf of your clients" to a charity too. Big ticks to our friends at Storyboard Multimedia who did this.

Ethics for profit

I heard an interested speech last night at the Monash University Student Marketing Awards. It was from Clive Hamilton, Australia Institute Director, on the need for young marketers to remember their ethics as they went out into the workforce.

He had a go at several public marketers about their ethics - and had a dig at Brandchild author Martin Lindstrom, who was quoted as saying that in marketing to "tweens", good ethics is good business. Dr Hamilton suggested that Lindstrom had the wrong end of the stick and had lost the ethical plot - but let's face it, if you're in business, profitability and longevity are key goals. So I'm all for ethics in business, but the fact it's also good for business these days can't be a bad thing.

You see, being ethical, focusing on the "triple bottom line", having a focus on sustainability - these are all attractive to the market. So you can do the RIGHT thing, but also benefit from it.

In marketing your business, is there something you can change - or start talking about - that improves your corporate citizenship performance and thus improves the market's perception of you? Doing the right thing could be that point of difference you've been looking for! Just ask The Body Shop.