Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Never start any marketing without asking this ONE question

Bad marketing happens for one reason, and one reason only.

Someone forgot to start with what the target market actually wanted or needed.

What did they start with?

They started with what THEY wanted to sell. Yes, as marketers we're in the business of demand generation. But it's much easier to stimulate demand when we consider the wants or needs of those who want to buy...and not your OWN desires.

It happens for an obvious reason.

Being brutally honest: We're MUCH more interested in ourselves than others.

Don't believe me? When you get sent a photo (of Facebook photo album) who do you look for in the photos?

So....improve any marketing activity. Stop and remember it's NOT about you. It's about your customer.

So ALWAYS ask yourself what the customer wants, what's important from the customer's perspective, what's in it for THEM.

This is a "zero budget" means of improving ANY campaign activity or copy you'll ever write.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Not quite zero budget - but VERY cheap way to launch a business

"Advertising is failure...If you have a great product or service, customers sell it for you. If you have a great relationship with those customers, you don't need to advertise." Jeff Jarvis.

Don't you just love an interesting - and provocative - quote? I think Jeff is spot on - but the challenge is to create - and maintain - a product or service customers can't help talking about.

I noticed a great example of a company attempting to harness this today - a not quite "zero budget marketing" example... but a very bloody cheap one! The example comes from Freelancer.com, who are apparently planning to launch and Australian site. Their way to launch it? Run a competition, encouraging their existing 1.8 million members to promote the site FOR them.

The entire prize pool is tiny for a business of that size - $25,000. If they were to spend that on an online advertising campaign that would get them VERY little. But get 1.8 million eager freelancers around the world on the job, and I'd argue their $25k investment could net them 5, 10 or even 50 times the value.

It's hard to get engagement - they're actually asking for quite a bit of creativity and effort. But if only ONE HUNDRED people (which gives me such a small % of 1.8million that it's not worth mentioning!) put in a decent effort, it will be money very well spent and provide a massive RETURN ON INVESTMENT.

So, not quite zero budget, but a good idea here to mirror if you have an existing community of engaged customers or members.

Monday, November 22, 2010

How to build a business website using wordpress (part 2)

Step 4. Once you've found your design & installed into onto your host, you now need to think CONTENT. This SHOULD be the easiest part of the process - but is often the hardest. (I'm a marketer and I am much better at writing engaging copy for my client's businesses than I am for my own!) You need to break it down into areas of interest that are relevant to your prospects - whilst still showcasing what you can do. Different themes may also have different places to include copy so that it appears in the right way in your layout. You'll need to take the time to learn this first. Most themes do come with instructions - plus a little bit of trial and error goes a long way.

TIP:You also need to remember to make your copy Google friendly. This is a whole other post (actually, hundreds of posts!) but some of the basics include considering what keywords you think people might search for your kind of business on - and then includes these through out your site, as often as possible and in everything from body copy to headers to links.

Step 5. Think about what else you can include on your site. So not just pictures and words, but perhaps one of the thousands of wordpress plug-ins that can be installed to increase the functionality of your site. This could be anything from a twitter feed to an email subscription box to polls to....anything that will add value (or traffic) to your site!

TIP: Some plug-ins don't "agree with" certain themes, so not all plug-ins will work with all wordpress sites.

NOW...I still have to work out how to MOVE my new website from the temporary URL to my brazen.com.au URL. Once I have this nailed, I can post about how to do it (assuming it works of course!)

Friday, October 22, 2010

How to build a business website using wordpress

I always prefer advice from someone who's DONE what they're suggesting others do. Someone who has been their OWN guinea pig.

So when it came time to pay my annual renewal for my Brazen.com.au website, I looked at the bill and thought "I can probably do something better and cheaper". For one thing, I couldn't change much on the site as it was a very early version CMS (Content Management System). For another, it had such issues as having meaningless URLs, not great for google loving.

So I decided to give it a shot.

I took my love of the simple wordpress tool and did some investigation on wordpress.org. That is, a version you can install with a web host to give you a lot more control over functionality and look and feel.

In summary, it wasn't super fast or super easy. But it wasn't super hard either, considering I'm not a techie at all. In fact, the tricky bits for me where learning how to FTP a file, something a techie person would probably laugh at.

How to build a business website using wordpress

Well, Wordpress.org have a little "it's as easy as 1,2,3" on their homepage.

And whilst it is pretty easy, I feel someone needs to spell out the steps in a little more detail.

So here goes.
  • Step 1. You will need a web host. This is not expensive. I decided to go with JustHost and it's a whopping $6 a month. Or $72 a year. And this included multiple websites, unlimited data and lots and lots of email addresses. To put this in perspective, my last "cheap" host was around $450 a year! Now, if you expect a tonne of traffic and need 100% uptime, this sort of cheap host won't be the right solution, but it's fine for your average SME website.
  • TIP: Most webhosts have a 1 click install option for Wordpress. So you DONT need to download and install the wordpress software. For example, with Just Host, there was an instructional page with a few steps to follow and in a few minutes, I was ready to start adding content to the site.

  • Step 2. You also need to buy a URL of course. I had one already but I wanted to build my new site without taking down the existing one. So I bought another URL for $12 from JustHost and built it on that. When I canceled my other hosting I didn't want to just re-direct the URL to my new URL. Now this might sound a bit tricky, but I just pointed my URL to a holding page that I also set up in JustHost for no extra cost and pointed to the "new" site. My plan is to MOVE the pages over, just working out how to do that now!
  • TIP: If you're building a site, it's much easier to START fresh rather than move pages.

  • Step 3: You need a design! There are about a thousand that are included with Wordpress BUT they are pretty much all set up to be blogs. Now, you can think a little creatively and make this work. For example, your "home page" that has the blog posts could just be headed up "latest news". But it isn't the ideal solution.
  • TIP: I purchased a design from Elegant Themes (the Minimal Theme). It was $39 to subscribe, MUCH cheaper than having someone build me a custom theme. I then had to install it via FTP. I had to install an FTP program - Filezilla - and this was what I was least comfortable with. It didn't work the first time so I posted a query on Elegant Theme's support blog, which was answered within 24 hours. And then all worked well!
I'll continue this " How to build a business website using wordpress" in my next post.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Did you know...?

I was visiting Signwave in South Yarra a few days ago and this sign on the wall caught my eye.

I feel that (a) the fact I noticed it and (b) the fact I photographed it to share shows that it has some merit!

So, according to this sign:
- A second colour on a sign vastly improves information retention
- You can read signs with a border much faster

So next time you're making a sign, apply some "zero budget marketing" knowledge in making it work just that bit harder for you!

Monday, August 30, 2010

And whilst I'm on PR...

...have come across another Australian zero budget marketing gem.

Handle your own PR allow you to purchase your own targeted media list, so that you can contact journo's in your space with exciting/relevant information about your product and service. You can build these lists yourself, but it's incredibly time consuming (I've tried) and it's cheaper than subscribing to a service like Margaret Gees Media Guide (worthwhile if you're an agency, too expensive if you've got one product or service to promote.

Handle Your Own PR don't have lists for every sector yet, but if you're in the lifestyle, business or kids/parenting area, this could be an ideal and effective zero budget marketing tool!

Little bit of Aussie ingenuity helping match marketers & media

Getting media exposure for your business is immensely valuable. You get a trusted authority, such as a newspaper or television program, talking about your brand. Yes, you can buy advertising space, but (a) it's not very zero budget and (b) it's YOU saying how good you are, not someone else.

But it's a hit and miss operation, with PRs flogging their client's products to the media on their own schedule rather than on the media's. And if you want to do your own PR, you're likely to have a lot less of the relationships these PRs have, so it can be even harder.

That's why a SourceBottle (free) email subscription should be on every business owner or marketer's should be in your inbox. It's a great little online service that connects journalists, writers and bloggers with 'sources'. They do this by emailing 'call outs' for sources from journalists, writers and bloggers to subscribers to the service. They help journalists, writers and bloggers connect with an extensive network of quality sources; and they help subscribers to the service get publicity (or famous, whichever comes first).

So you get to respond to requests when journo's WANT to hear from you. I can't imagine I'm the only person who's excited by this prospect. So far I've come across several great leads for clients AND friends, for everything from promoting a shopping site on another online service to getting a product reviewed for a magazine article.

SourceBottle's revenue model seems to be in some advertising and premium subscriptions, which still seem extremely cheap. So I hope they'll stay around for a long time, it's zero budget marketing gold.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Budget expo idea

So you've managed to negotiate yourself some cheap expo space at about a 10th of the price of other exhibitors...now what do you do with your stand??

This was the question a friend was facing, who is also a marketing consultant. The other exhibitors were big companies with big budgets. So their stands would look rather flash.

So I suggested going back to marketing basics ...make the stand about your visitors, not about you. I suggested we brainstorm 100 or so quick "marketing ideas" that we could "paper" the walls of her stand with. That way, people would hopefully stop and read - then engage with her - rather than just wander past.

So, how did it look and how did it work? I've included a picture in this post. It actually looked pretty good, and cost around $10 in production. And how did it work? She got 23 leads in 2 days - and she only needs 3-4 to turn into business to make it a worthwhile exercise.

Yet again proving - a little bit of tenacity and creative thinking beats a big budget every time.

So next time you're doing an expo, rather than fill your stand with posters and logos about you - why not make the space about EDUCATING your market. Cheaper AND more effective.

Ever wondered what to put in a staff profile so you don't send people to sleep?

Getting lost on the web, looking for tomato relish of all things, I stumbled upon this little bit of copywriting gold on this gourmet food distributor's site.

I have absolutely no need to read this, but I read every one of these profiles.

Says something, doesn't it?

Now I feel like I know them. If only I had a store to stock their product in, I'd be calling them tomorrow. It would be a little like making the effort to make friends with some this great new person you've come across. Now are you seeing yet why there's marketing gold in this?

Get rid of anonymous, no personality copy on your website! This one page should prove to you the difference - and it won't cost you anything more to write like you're not a robot!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Do you understand human nature enough to make it work for you?

I love it when I get "tricked" in a good way.

A friend is due to start a new job with a design agency , so I thought I'd google them.

I got to Sage Creative's site and was a annoyed to have to "skip" a flash intro page (why do people keep doing these?!). Anyway, they were redeemed with their brilliant understanding of human nature in their simple menu. The last item on the menu was...

..."Don't go here".

So guess what I immediately clicked on?

Love it.

What a spectacularly cheap (zero budget) way to funnel your web traffic where you want it to go.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

PR stunt on a zero budget

Bit of a lazy post but I wanted to direct you to read a recent story on Australian Anthill.

It is a clever promotional idea that used the "beg, borrow & steal" approach to putting together a neat little PR stunt for Channel 31. Big ticks to Keep Left PR for the idea - and in managing to source "free snow".

Check it out at: http://anthillonline.com/could-this-be-the-cheapest-promotional-stunt-ever/

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Puppy love get big licks & ticks

We all know that social media is a great zero budget tool. Twitter & Facebook are the centre of the universe for (possibly way too) many people. And they're free to use for marketers and punters alike.

But that said, it's HARD to get the use of these tools right. It's all very well to post some bland info about your brand, what's hard is coming up with something clever, engaging and basically worth all your time and effort. There's little worse than not being friended or followed!

I came across one of the smartest little social media campaigns I'd seen today - and I've watched it go crazy in literally HALF a day.

I am a PJs addict and a love Peter Alexander pajamas. I am hard pressed to open one of their catalogues and OT buy. So I do scan their online newsletter. And they had a great little story. They are wanting some "posh dogs" for their next mag shoot. All you had to do to get your dog in the running was post a pic of it on Peter's facebook page. Now, as I love dogs more than PJs, I immediately checked it out. Over 300 people had ALREADY posted a picture within an hour of the email going out. I've just checked again this evening and it's now over 600. That's not people visiting the page - I'd suspect this would be 10 times this. That 600 women who've chosen to interact with the brand today alone.

How smart is this campaign? Even if they didn't have the photo shoot angle, they took something people love - their pet - and made it about showing off their loved one. And the cost of this fabulous little brand interaction.

Ah, did I mention, ZERO.

Big ticks (and licks!) for the PA marketing team. They've done us all proud today!

And take a leaf from their book.

How can you tap into what people are ALREADY passionate about and tie it to your brand using social media? The key is in what's important to your market, not what's important to you.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Simple (+ cheap) ideas can be incredibly powerful

Had to share this with you - part of a seatbelt advocacy campaign from the UK.

Apart from the fabulous viral component of this advertising - apparently having been seen by over 1 million people now - what I love is that this adv would have been VERY cheap to make, compared to the standard TAC type ads we're all so used to.

Yet arguably, its impact is much, much greater. It's not only quite beautiful to watch, it gets across it's (multiple) messages without so much as a work spoken, a spot of gore or a score of smashed up cars.

So a very big pat on the back to the creative team that put this little beauty together - you've proven to us all that IMPACT has a lot less to do with the size of a marketing budget than you might imagine.

More about the campaign at: http://www.sussexsaferroads.gov.uk/

Just in case you can't see the embedded video, use this link:

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I finally get it - why people are so passionate about Apple

I've long resisted the world of Apple. I succumbed to an iPhone but have had issues with it. I considered an iPad but research showed a Kindle was the better option as a reader (and I love it!). But when my second PC laptop died in 3 years, I decided I was really to give Apple some serious consideration. I did my research and found the Macbook Pro seemed like a good option. I even got it for a very good price, cheaper than my last two laptops. I've had it a week now and, to be honest, I'm wondering how I lived without it. Forget how great it looks and feels, it just works so much better than a PC.

But this post isn't an ode to my new laptop - it's an ode to the fact that I'm finally getting a hint as to why people are so loyal to Apple. It's because they actually work very hard to make you feel part of a (brand) family.

You see, I have some queries about working my Macbook. And I discovered I can make an appointment at the Apple store - at a "genius bar" no less - to get some help. I can attend some free workshops on how to use various bits of software and hardware. I've even got telephone support for the first 90 days if I need it.

Now having bought many PCs, not only don't the retailers offer anything like this, the hardware manufacturers certainly don't.

All this isn't "zero budget" for Apple to deliver - but they wouldn't do it unless it generated A BIG RETURN. So it's money very well invested.

Things like the genius bar and workshops are also a much smarter use of retail space and customer management than I've ever seen. They've taken the same tools as everyone else - a shop, some shop assistants, a set amount of retail hours, , some hardware to sell - and they've then done something VERY clever with it. They've even dealing with some potential negatives - only ONE location and only helping people at set times they need to book well in advance - and managed to make them a positive.

How can YOU rethink your set of marketing tools and essentially CHANGE the game you're playing?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

It's just a sign, isn't it?

You know, sometimes in marketing, it's the little things that matter. Small cost items that can have a BIG impact if only you put a little bit of creative thought into them.

I've spotted two signs recently that I think are worth their weight in gold. One perhaps a bit more obviously than the other.

So first, the subtle sign. I saw this in clothing store "Forever New". The sign simply says "Last of the Best Sellers". What's so good about this?

This little sign is working VERY hard.

It's allowing the store to put a bunch of mis-matched product together legitimately, in a retail world that's often focussed on making everything look just right.

It's also telling shoppers that OTHER people loved these items, so this is a great place to hunt for a treasure.

Finally, it's allowing items to be sold full price that would normally be relegated to the sale rack.

Then the more obvious choice - how great is this? Every time I walk past this office, I smile and think that these people are living their brand. They've taken a very average location (a smelly alley off china town) and a door with bars and done something to make you forget all that.

They've already demonstrated how creative they are before their prospective client have literally walked through the door!

So next time you're thinking, it's just a sign, ask yourself...how can I make my little sign work as hard as it possibly can?