Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Don't forget the simple things

Successful marketing is rarely about a single silver bullet. Instead, it's about many, many little things that joined together, deliver results for a business.

So this post is about a little thing. Your email signature. If your business is anything like mine, you can send and receive around 100 emails a day. Even if you only send 10 emails a day, each one is an opportunity to share a little information about yourself and your business (AND as a bonus it makes it a lot easier for the recipient to get in touch with you in the future).

Now if you're tempted to think that no-one reads an email signature, I'm able to recount from very recent experience that this is definitely not the case. I added a sentence to the bottom of my (already relatively long) email signature about the launch of my new book. And I immediately got back a tonne of questions and congratulations about it. I really didn't think anyone would pay that much attention. But about a third of the people I emailed that week commented on it - which means more probably read it.

So if you've got something new or exciting happening, pop it onto the bottom of your daily emails. It's totally zero budget - and I know you'll be surprised at the response.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Providing experience to get free to cheap design and copy

Great design and copy writing can make a small brand look BIG and PROFESSIONAL -which we all know are key factors in attracting customers. I'm constantly amazed by how many shabby websites I come across and my instant thought is " this business isn't to be taken seriously".

But great design & copy has to cost a lot - doesn't it? Well, no.

If you have the world's tightest budget, why not consider getting a promising student designer or writer to work for you? You can contact Universities like RMIT (who run advertising and design courses) for a referral. Or independent outfits like The Australian School of Copywriting, who need 'real life' projects to give their students the experience they need. I recently referred a friend starting out a new venture (Little Fry) to The Australian School of Copywriting. Just going in to brief the budding writers gave the Little Fry team a good chance to articulate (and even form) their marketing vision. They then received several different writing perspectives for their brand, which has not only given them material to use immediately, but some fresh ideas for the future.

So if you have the time to dedicate, and are prepared to give as well as get, you can get some top notch design and copy for little or no cost. And as your business grows, and your student's talent grows, it could be the beginning of a long a mutually profitable relationship for both of you!

Design consistency is not only good for your brand it's good for your budget

Marketers love consistency - that's why all the big brands have thick design manuals covering the rules of how their brand can be used, in what colours and related colour palettes and even how much white space should be around a logo.
Just because you're a smaller brand doesn't mean you should be lax about ensuring all elements of your look and feel aren't consistent. Apart from making you look like a professional outfit, it also has the added benefit of being cost-effective in the long term. Why? Well, when you have a clear idea and guidelines on what font, colours and style to use, it will take a designer less time to create new work for you. And that translates to lower cost.
Also, some strong design elements have the advantage of being useful for multiple purposes, which I've been reminded of recently. I partnered with a talented designer and illustrator on Dont Drink and Dial...and other secrets of female friendship (my first book, being published by Penguin and on sale this week) and we've been able to use variations on the illustrations she's created for everything from a stationery line to icons on our website.

So get committed to consistency for all the right reasons: professionalism, aesthetics and cost control.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Ok, if you're really, really poor here's an idea for you

So I've been coming across a website a lot lately when hunting for stuff online. It's called Gumtree and it's essentially a free community noticeboard, where you can place free ads for just about anything. Their SEO (that's "search engine optimisation" which is how high up you appear in something like google) must be top notch, as it seems like every other search I conduct online for just about anything gives me one of these listings in the top ten!

So check out Melbourne Gumtree (and their 60 other cities) if you're looking for a totally, utterly, truly zero budget marketing tool to drive sales and possibly traffic to your own website. If it costs you nothing, is there any harm in trying it out?!

What they have to say about their service:
"Gumtree.com was started in March 2000 as a local London classified ads and community site, designed to connect people who were either planning to move, or had just arrived in the city, and needed help getting started with accommodation, employment and meeting new people.
We've grown a lot since then through word of mouth and we're proud to say that Gumtree is loved by its rapidly growing community. We now cover 60 cities across 6 countries - the UK, Ireland, Poland, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. "

Viral isn't dead if the offer is good enough

"Viral" marketing was a bit of a buzz word over the past few years that seems to have gone out of fashion in 07 - but the concept of viral is exciting because it's the ultimate zero budget concept. That is, you send out something (a promotion, an offer, news of a sale, a movie/joke/story) to a set group and then people pass it on for you. And it continues to spread...like a virus. So your original message to 100 people could end up reaching 10,000 people.
A good viral campaign isnt easy to come up with. The original (and future) recipients have to think it's exicting enough to pass on, such that their friends or colleagues wont be annoyed to receive it. So a really compelling offer - or a very funny message - is what's needed.
I just received a great offer passed on by a friend - and it was so good I wondered if it was real. So after a long investigation (well, actually, after clicking on a couple of links) I confirmed that Krispy Kreme WERE in fact giving away a half dozen donuts on the day after the election.
They've even tied in database building element, some topical marketing by linking it to the federal election, a cause related element by asking for a gold coin donation to the Salvos and some amusing creative. This little promo really ticks all my boxes! (They've also got some safety nets built in - see the preferred store and the "up to 6 donuts" to help them cover their tushies).
So Krispy Kreme have done it again - for the cost of some clever creative and I'm assuming several thousand donuts - they'll be gaining both a customer database and store traffic, at what I'm sure will be a very low cost per unit.
If I had a zero budget gold star, I'd slap it on them right now!