Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Super cheap design

I love the Internet - it just keeps on giving when it comes to zero budget ideas.

I have come across a great site that I think many small business people, especially those starting out, should give a try.
It's a site where you can buy existing design templates, already laid out, for under US$100. As getting custom design done is one of the most expensive things for new business people, this can be a great option if you're on a zero budget - or under time constraints.
Yes, you'll still need to do some of the work yourself - but that's the zero budget challenge isn't it - if you're not spending $$, you're often spending hours.
But another reason I like this is that buying design, if you dont do it regularly, can be tough. You don't really know what you want and it can be hard to visualise what you want. Buying something like this that's ready made means your costs are "capped" as you wont rack up designer hours trying to get it perfect.
So whilst a great designer is always a great investment, if you're cash strapped, inkd is a great option!

From Inkd:

Inkd is the world's first marketplace for buying and selling world-class print designs. Designers from all over the world sell on Inkd and offer print creative that can be customized any way you want. Use the designs as they are or just use them as a starting point to get you going on your own unique project.

At Inkd you'll get print-ready pages with colors accurately defined, bleeds allowed and folds set up. Designers are able to contribute any print friendly design using the application of their choice. Most print files are either designed using the most popular Desktop Publishing Software Page Layout Software to include Adobe Illustrator or Adobe InDesign documents.

Check out:

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Free tool for you - Have you tried Gumtree?

Now it's been a little while since I've had a total and utter zero budget idea for you. But this is a goodie, I promise! Have you discovered Gumtree yet?

Gumtree is a fab (not so) little community noticeboard - which has listings by Aussie city. It's like Craig's List, but for those of us downunder (although being eBay they're totally global, you just wouldn't know it).

So why do I care about a community noticeboard, I hear you ask?

Well, did I mention it's free?! And it's also got excellent SEO (search engine optimisation) which means a listing on Gumtree is often what you find on Google when you're hunting for just about anything.

So have you got something you can fit into one of their categories? You have to think laterally. I tried it out for my client, Flexicar. I wanted to get some people to try the service for free, so I put an advert on Gumtree to see if I'd get any nibbles. I spent a whopping $7 or so to make it a "top listing" (so it wouldn't get pushed down the page) and I not only got over 100 website visitors in a month, I got around 9 actual prospect inquiries.

Now, don't get me wrong, that's not going to set the world on fire - but it's nothing to sneeze at when other times I can spend hundreds and hundreds to get that many leads.

From Gumtree:

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 72 cities across 11 countries - the UK, Ireland, Poland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Singapore and Hong Kong - and are the UK's biggest website for local community classifieds including flat share, flat rentals and jobs. More than 25,000 new rooms are advertised a month, which means at least 10,000 rooms are rented a month through Gumtree. We now have more than one million visitors every month.

Our aim at Gumtree is to give you a simple and easy-to-use tool that lets you quickly find you might be looking for. You can find everything you need to live your life with the help of your local Gumtree community; from a job or a flat, date, a nanny for your kids or a bargain to a language teacher and a tennis partner.

GFC producing some steller zero budget marketing inspiration

Yes, it's all doom and gloom at the moment, but for us zero budget marketers - those that know how to create a lot from very little - it's business as usual.

But as the playing field has been rather dramatically levelled, there's some excellent inspiration out there to enjoy.

A recent gem has been the story of how to get an outdoor advertising space, worth tens of thousands, for small change.

In the US, it seems advertisers are using vacant storefronts as, you guessed it, billboards.

From the NY Times:

Taking advantage of all the abandoned retail spaces in urban areas, marketers are leasing them at cut-rate prices and filling them with their ads.

At first, advertisers saw storefront advertising as a poor man’s billboard — that is, a bad thing. Now, they see it as a poor man’s billboard — that is, brilliantly frugal.

I particularly like the second paragraph of this excerpt - don't you?!

Here's a couple of samples, one more flash and one more budget (the first being donated space for a charity campaign). Apparently some landlords are renting out the window space for as little as $500 a month, happy to have something other than dust and depression on show. Ah, I love to see a cliche come to life...necessity really is the mother of invention!

Giving away flights - great PR and trial strategy

An online article caught by eye today, despite being a wine drinker - Flights cheaper than a carton of beer.

When reading the article, I discovered it was about some very cheap flights Tiger Airways was promoting.

Why is this zero budget? Well, if you've ever had to stump up for newpaper advertising, you'll know that it's very bloody expensive.
By offering up a very newsworthy story, Tiger has got an entire article run, that pretty much reads like a press release and a promotion description, complete with terms and conditions!
Now I'm sure Tiger is also an advertiser, but it is a great way to demonstrate the power of PR when you have a great story to tell.

This quote in the article is also telling:
Tiger Airways says the fares include all fees and taxes, so in essence, it is giving away the seat on the plane.

This is a promotion dear to my "zero-budget heart, in that it's giving away something for free.
This is SUCH a great option for a new/developing business looking to get fast traction. It gets people talking about you, it gets people using your service for little risk - and in the case of Tiger, it gets you a return airfare.

It's a much smarter "marketing" investment that an ad.
So congrats to Tiger, you get this week's smart marketing zero budget hero award!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

I'm a sucker for a fantastic idea

I got sent this video and I loved it so much I had to share it. It's definately not zero budget but it is a truly original way to tell a story. Plus, it may very well have been less expensive to make that had this been produced using actors and travelling around the globe.

So what is this? A potentially "boring" corporate video has been turned into something magical, off the strength of a beautifully simple idea.

So what can we learn from this?

If you're facing a marketing challenge, ask yourself what you can do differently to everyone else out there? Don't look to copy ideas from your competitors - look for inspiration from outside your industry.

This is a great example of how a fantastic idea, well executed, can totally bat above it's weight.

Origami In the Pursuit of Perfection from MABONA ORIGAMI on Vimeo.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What if you wanted to double your customer base tomorrow?

It's a tough question. How to double your customers or prospects overnight?

Wouldn't it just take every customer to recruit ONE more person.

In a perfect world, that is really all it would take. But even though we're not in a perfect world, it doesn't mean the idea isn't worth pursuing.

I've yet to work with a business that doesn't get some - and often MOST - of it's business from referral. (And as you can see, the smart marketers at World Vision are trying to tap into that with the recent email I've pictured).

And that referral is great because it's MASSIVELY cost effective and carries the far greater persuasive power than anything a business could ever say.

So this is just a reminder not to ignore the most powerful new business tool at your fingertips - your existing customers. Get out there and motivate them to refer a new customer to you.