Wednesday, February 23, 2011

So do sites like Groupon or Living Social work?

If you're a consumer business, how can you get a bunch of customers, really, really fast?

Whilst Groupon isn't operating in Australia, if you follow marketing news, you'll have got the gist of who they are - essentially a "deal a day" from all sorts of business. In Melbourne I subscribe to the Living Social offers - and whilst I've yet to buy, I have forwarded on items to others and they've bought. Now whilst the shopper in me loves a bargain, the marketer in the me wonders ... is it successful for businesses? And could it pay for itself, at least enough to pass my "zero budget marketing" litmus test (you need to make a lot more than you spend from any marketing!).

My gut feel would be that a great offer will get a great response. And a great offer to someone like me is a deep discount. There's nothing more irresistible than a serious bargain...

So even if they sale isn't "profitable", the value would likely be in the database building. That said, experience also shows that "vouchers" (coupons in American lingo) see people spending MORE than the value of the voucher.

So I was interested to see this post on Digital Buzz's blog, discussing some research on those who'd advertised in the US with Groupon. The upshot seems to be that it IS more profitable than unprofitable...and that around 50% of buyers spent more than the coupon value in the case of the profitable ones. The post highlights a specific example for American Apparel, where a $25 coupon worth $50 generated an average spend on $70.

Now, the missing piece of the puzzle is what it COSTS to get your offer onto a service like Groupon or Living Social. If anyone knows, do share!

It costs a mint to make a tv ad - doesn't it?

The internet really is the zero budget marketing tool that keeps on giving. I envisage a not too distant future where TV ads will no longer be TV ads. They'll be little pieces of content people voluntarily pass on to each other - and then sit there and watch - online. Oh wait...that's already happening!

But how does this relate to those of us with tight marketing budgets, you ask?

A week ago an (obviously PR savvy) junior ad-guy Ben McCambridge uploaded to YouTube a Sony Playstation 3 advert he'd made for $6k "on spec". Yes, he's done it to try and get hired/sell the concept to Sony, but the lessons to be learned from his story are:

- He made a VERY cool looking & engaging ad for very little $$ & a few favours

- Over 120,000 people have watched this ad in a week!

Now we're not all blessed with a killer brand name or something as popular as video gaming to market BUT the potential here is obvious. Getting creative and capturing imagination is not about the size of your wallet. A killer idea has real potential to get real just need to come up with that killer idea.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Facebook Brand Pages For Dummies + why social media isn't something you do occassionally

So we keep getting told that social media is the "new, new thing" that must be engaged in.

But if you've ever tried to set up a Facebook page for a business, you can quickly find yourself wondering what on earth to put on there. I found this presentation from Soap had some great tips. Whilst they agency that put it together obviously has some BIG brands to work with (Coke, Magnum), I still got some ideas for a couple of my clients. Love a bit of zero budget marketing inspiration!
Facebook Brand Pages For Dummies
View more presentations from Soap Creative.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Quick lead generation tip - how to find the right contact to call

A key element of marketing for many businesses will be sales and business development. How do you find the right person to contact? Often people buy or rent lists. The problem with this for the zero budget marketer is that lists (a) cost a lot of money and (b) have large minimums, which leave you with hundreds of names when you just wanted 15-20 to start with.

One tip: Sniff out the "right" person to contact using searches on social networking sites like LinkedIn. You can search by a job title and you will usually find a few people pop up! Then you can contact the company and at least know the right person to ask to speak to.

Other ideas (that I've tested and used) include:
Asking your friends if they know anyone in a particular space.
Asking others you know at a company who the right person is.
Or call the reception of the organisation you're targeting and ask "who's in charge of XXX?" and more than half of the time, they'll tell you! Then call back a day or two later and ask for the person by name.

Of course, this is just the start. You'll often end up on voice-mail but, if you have a relevant offering, and leave regular, friendly messages, you'll often find you'll eventually get a call back. If nothing else, if you're pleasant about it, people start to feel guilty around the 4th or 5th message (I'm speaking from experience - both from the selling and the "pitched to" side of the equation). Persistence pays off if you're contacting the right person.

A call back is not a sale - but it's closer than you were before.

The key point here, too, is that you have to call. Sales training expert Sue Barrett speaks of "call reluctance" being the biggest factor if people not getting a sale. Not that a prospect isn't interested. Not that you have a bad product or service. People don't get the sale because they don't want to pick up the phone in the first place. A sobering thought & a call to action, all at the same time!

Getting more creative with the basics

The very essence of zero budget marketing is making what marketing assets you do have work harder for you. Often, all this involves is flexing your creative muscles.

I loved this "locations" page that I came across on Channel Advisor's website. Instead of a dry list of offices they've put up some groovy retro postcards for each of the cities they're in.

Why bother with this? Well, put yourself in a customer's shoes? Would you rather do business with someone pedestrian...or someone clever?

What can you add some pizzaz too and get it working harder?

Monday, February 14, 2011

List of free online inspiration sources for the zero budget marketeer

Every time I need inspiration, I find it in these online places. So I thought I should share...and being a zero budget marketing blog, these are all free :)

TED (Ideas worth spreading) - Billed as riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world". Speakers are challenged to give the talk of their lives, usually in only 18 minutes. There's always something new and exciting here.

Geekpreneur - Passionate geeks, web designers, programmers, and bloggers bringing to you the LATEST tips, news, and geek culture. They aren't even that geeky, despite the name!

Springwise - Clever new business ideas, trends and innovations from around the globe, complete with suggestions on what you might take away.

Seth Godin's blog - A prolific writer and blogger, the daily arrival in my inbox always makes me think...and often the thought is "A-HA!". Pretty impressive stuff when you can create a daily a-ha moment.

NYVS blog - I've been getting more interested in video creation (on my super cheap Kodak Zi8 video camera that cost me all of $145) and this blog/newsletter is packed with great ideas and information.

SmartCompany - Lots of business news and advice tailored for SMEs. They often have great eBooks too. Australian site.

Australian Anthill - The online magazine billed as "by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs" there is lots of great information, dialogue and tips to be found here for the business reader. Australian site.

Wheeler Centre - A relatively new Australian (Melbourne) cultural institution dedicate to books, writing and ideas. MANY of the events they put on are free - or VERY cheap. They also often put up compelling video content of events on their website that are worth watching.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

No more excuses for no business cards + how to make your cards work harder for you

Networking is one of the best and most effective zero budget marketing tools at your disposal - because you are (or should be) the greatest believer in your business.

So even if you're an entrepreneur just starting out, you need a business card. A card can be a small but powerful marketing tool. And thanks to the web, there are some crazy cheap deals our there.

I just received an email via eBay that offered 500 business cards from Vistaprint starting at $5! Now I'm sure by the time you add some customisation, better card stock (you don't want too cheap and nasty or what does that say about you) and a logo it's going to be more than that. But even if it ends up at 10 times as much, that's $50. A very, very small investment that will pay dividends.

Remember, though, to put meaningful information on your card, especially if your business name isn't self explanatory. XYZ consulting doesn't tell you anything. I'd also recommend using the BACK of your business card to expand on what you/your business does. Getting a little creative or clever helps with being memorable too.

I also recommend you DONT get a gloss stock. This is because I recommend people WRITE ON cards that they receive regarding the follow up from the meeting/conversation. Otherwise you can end up with a big pile of cards and be scratching your head thinking...what am I doing with this card?!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

How to turn free subscribers into buyers

When people get to your website, there should be multiple ways to engage with you. They can obviously BUY from you, but what else can they do?

At the very least, they should be able to sign up for alerts or further information. (This is a pretty basic step that MANY sites miss, but that's not what this post is about).

Once they've left their email, your business is then in a position to communicate to those who've opted in to receive email from you; with the hope of converting them down the line.

But can you fast track this newsletter subscription to an immediate sale?
The good news is yes!

Someone who's just subscribed for a news update is already expressed real interest in your brand. They're really a hot lead. After they sign up, subscribers should be taken to the "thank you" page. To convert some of these people to buyers, PUT AN OFFER on this thank you page. After all, these people have demonstrated they're interested in you already - so why not try dangle a carrot to get them to make that last step.

But will this work?

I've recently put this into practice with a client to test its effectiveness. It's generating an average of a 7% conversion rate every month! And this client is selling is a service that isn't geographically available to many people, so I know this would be higher for a product or service that could be bought by anyone.

This is not only a great zero budget marketing tip - there's no additional cost, you're just improving on an existing process - it just makes good general marketing sense. Anyone can offer this and get a return. So why don't you?

(Thanks for the inspiration for this tip needs to go to James Tuckerman at Australian Anthill, who wrote an article explaining how he'd done this for his own site a while ago - I now can't find the article though!)