Sunday, December 16, 2012

Characteristics of a good name for a small business

A business name is something you're stuck with for a long time - you CAN change it, but it's expensive (to change all that branding) and risky (because you lose any established knowledge of your name in the market). So it's worth putting some thought into, not just from a creativity perspective, but from a practical approach too.

I was chatting to a small business owner yesterday and she had a whole host of potential names for her re-launched business. I had a look through and instantly a few stood out above the rest. As I explained the reasons why to her, I thought it would be worth a post here to share what the same thoughts.

Characteristics of a good business name

- Keep it short. If you can keep it to one or two words, try to do this. The longer it gets, the harder it is for people to remember and they tend to mix it up. For example, I used to work with Flexicar. Great name. Except first it was "Flo car share" (yes, missing the "w"). Which people used to call "Flow carshare" "Flow sharecar" "Car flow share". It got too painful. The moment we switched to Flexicar, everyone got it right, every time.

- Memorable. Being a little bit different or quirky makes it memorable or catchy. But if it's TOO quirky, you'll find people won't get it right.

- Use real words that describe your business if you can. Don't make people have to think too hard to work out what it is that you do. Be as specific as you can. There is a temptation to keep it general, like I did with Brazen Productions, as I planned to do a lot of things. However, if I had my time again, I'd make it Brazen Marketing as this is largely what I do.

- Don't get too tricky with the spelling. I've already given an example above with Flo car share. People also try to replace "s" with z or x, or add lots of additional letters. Not ideal as when people are talking about your business, as you need to reply upon them to convey the odd spelling. It can work - Grill'd for example - as they have a retail presence with their name displayed all over it. But they also bought the URL just in case.

- The URL is available. This is getting harder and harder, but it is one of the most important elements for businesses that rely on being "found". Ideally you'd buy the .com and if you can. If you're a business that relies heavily on online leads, consider buying misspellings too. (If you're a one person show, and most of your business comes through personal referral or handing out your card, then this is less important.)

There are exceptions to all of these - but they tend to be businesses that have a LOT of money to spend to build awareness, or businesses that have been around a long time. A name isn't everything, but it can be a cheap shortcut to instantly promote what you do, which is why it's an ideal zero budget marketing approach.

A final word. Don't spend forever agonising over it, or a logo. Think about it. Test it out of a few people who DON'T know what you do and see if they can pick what your business might be. Then choose something and move on to the business building part.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Why making your written communication clear will save you money

A large element of Zero Budget Marketing is ensuring that any marketing you're already doing, you're doing as well as you can. Written communication is a key part of marketing that can have a huge impact - but is often "forgotten" once it is written.

I've come across several business in the past few weeks who are literally costing themselves money due to poorly considered written communications.

The worst offender was a conveyancer (legal representative who helps in the transfer of title when you buy a house). They charge a fixed fee for their conveyancing service, so it's in their interest to speak to their clients as few times as possible during the process. Calls to them represents time, and they don't charge by the call or their time. Yet every written letter and email from the conveyancer was extremely unclear. It didn't outline what we needed to do, or what would happen next. So I always had to call or email to check.

None of the answers were something that couldn't have been provided BEFORE I had to ask by including a "step by step" guide or an FAQ. Each one of those 8-9 calls or emails represented time wasted for that company.

So how can you avoid this?

It's not that you never want to talk to clients or prospects, it's that you only want to talk to them if you have to - otherwise you're wasting their time too. The best way to "sanity check" your existing communications (website, email, standard letter) for clarity is to have someone that knows NOTHING about your field, or your business. Any questions they ask, any difficulty they have in understanding, will be a question someone else will have - so build it into your communications before they have to ask.

When I worked with Flexicar, which had thousands of members but a VERY small team, we had to take every opportunity to better educate "members" so that they wouldn't need to call unless absolutely necessary. One little initiative was instituting an Invoice FAQ and a "How to understand your invoice" video. These two things cut calls to the accounts person in HALF.

So, just to take my own advice, here are the clear steps to checking your written communications aren't costing your business money:

1. Identify a list of "public" written communications for new or existing customers (website, letters, invoices, statements, presentations, etc).

2. Have someone OUTSIDE your industry or business read them and note their questions. Or for a month, make a note of any questions you get asked by customers or prospects.

3. Make adjustments to these existing comms or create NEW comms to address the questions.

4. Track for improvements (reduced call volumes, for example).

5. Go and spend the time you save on other marketing initiatives!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Case Study on budget lead generation event - 2000% ROI

Events are a great way to get in front of many people (prospects!) at once. Even if you're a small business, hosting an event can be an extremely cost-effective way of generating business leads- and demonstrating your business expertise. It's also a great way to share expertise so that all attendees benefit and think well of you.

I was speaking with a web development company the other day. They run events every month, on various topics relative to the digital space.

They promote the events to their own database and to people they're currently trying to do business with. They get around 15-20 people to every event. They get great feedback and interaction. They get at least one lead from every seminar. And it costs them the huge sum of....$150!

Yes, $150.

They've done a deal with a pub close to their office to get the space, tea and coffee for $150.

Now they tell me they get a sale EVERY time. And a sale for them isn't just a one-off. There's upsell opportunities and ongoing maintenance and development work.

Let's be conservative and say a website with them is $3000.

That's TWENTY TIMES the investment cost to make the sale. Even if they only got a sale every 2-3 times this is still a great zero budget marketing activity.

Of course there is there time in promoting and running the event. But as zero budget marketers know, sometimes time is easier to supply than cash.

Can you apply this to your business? Do you have knowledge to share that people want or need to know more about? Then taking the plunge and running some free educational events could be a big win for all involved.

PS. Free tools you can use to manage registrations:

-Eventbrite - Free for free events (which I'm using for a free event on social media marketing and the law right now -and I can report it's great. Come along if it's relevant.)
-Wufoo - Great form tool that's free to use in most cases

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Networking still has the same principals - even if it's social networking

If you've ever seen me talk about networking, I maintain that GOOD networking isn't going out to "get" something. Good networkers look for opportunities to help people - to EARN the right to ask a favour.

My marketing hero, Seth, talks about this in his own way in the context of social networking. It's worth a couple of minutes of your time to watch (and thanks to Mark at The Fortune Institute for sending me the link).

PS. If you can't see the youtube box above, use this link: 

Monday, October 01, 2012

What is your 'cost per fan' on Facebook?

With the "average" Aussie spending up to three hours a day on social media, and most of it on Facebook, the zero budget marketer needs to understand whether they can tap into this bounty of online attention. So today we've got a guest post on the issue of "Cost per fan". You may also want to check out some thoughts on what makes an effective Facebook advertisement.

GUEST POST: What is the Cost Per Fan and how Does it Affect You?

As you have probably noticed by checking out the competition on Facebook, practically every business around has some sort of Facebook fan or business page. Hands down the largest social network around, Facebook attracts millions of unique users every day, and a large percentage of those will become recurring users. If you could somehow make them fans of your business, your brand would exponentially explode and you’d be dealing with massive success.

Marketing successfully on Facebook takes a lot of knowledge. You probably already understand a lot about online marketing in general, as in how to determine your niche, how to create materials, how to promote your brand, and how to drive conversions. But once you start dealing with Facebook, an entirely new set of metrics open up. Take the cost per fan for a quick example. This is something that only exists on Facebook – CPF. So let’s a look at CPF in greater detail.

Understanding CPF Metrics and How They Relate to Your Success

The term is fairly self-explanatory, although it can be confusing in the context of Facebook. Obviously, it all has to do with what you’re paying per fan – per an individual you convert who likes your ad material. Yes, this does cost money. It isn’t something you get for free on Facebook. It comes from what you’re paying for CPC or CPM Sponsored Stories or another type of marketplace ad. It includes what you’re paying for your overall campaign versus how many visitors you actually convert.

The Two Steps to Measuring Your CPF

Step One: Conversions Report

Words like “metrics” and initialism like “CPF” make things sound a lot more complicated than they need sound. To put it simply, you can open up Qwaya (or whichever advertising management tool you’re using) and check out your conversions report. In plain English, a conversion is a fan, and a fan is a conversion. It’s the same logic, only a different name. You want to view your conversions report and figure out what you’re paying for a fan.

Step Two: Advertising Performance

You deduce how much you’re paying per fan by viewing your advertising performance within your conversion report. How much does your ad campaign cost? How many views are you getting? What’s your CTR? This is how you figure out how much you’re paying per any one fan.

With the Sponsored Stories features and other unique features on Facebook, you can always find ways to drive the costs down. Of course, you first have to realize what you’re spending money on and exactly how much you’re spending.

Author bio: Craig Robinson is the Editor for Qwaya and works with Social advertisement and how social context works within online behaviour today. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Small can pack a big punch on facebook pages

If you're a regular reader of the marketing press, you could be forgiven for thinking that the only companies doing any marketing are the big ones. But with a million small businesses in Australia alone, we know that can't be true. So I'm always excited when I come across any list of "small doing it big" in any way.

I was reading this story on Social Media Examiner which features ten small businesses they selected as winners for their Facebook page. All are worth checking out for some inspiration.

Locally, I've seen that wool brand Jo Sharp has been doing some Facebook advertising and over a couple of weeks I've watched their likes go through the roof, and I doubt they've spent more than a couple of hundred dollars a week.

When I liked them maybe 2 weeks ago they had under 2000 likes. Now they've got 7,000!

That's a seriously impressive result. If you look a little further, they haven't even had their page that long - they started posting regularly in April last year. So what are they doing right? When I came across them I saw there were some free patterns, special offers, daily posts - and it was enough to make me 'like' them.

Now "craft" is a natural for social media - there's always something new to talk about. But that's the case with SO MANY industries, from fashion and beauty to food to finance. The important thing is to being talking about something every day - and showing that you understand your market by posting engaging items.

If I was advising Jo Sharp, I would give them a couple of tips to consider:

1. Advertising - chose the option to only show it to people who don't already like you (as I still see it even though I've liked them). Although if they're paying for "showing" rather than "clicking" this may not be an issue - but otherwise you don't want to be paying for eyeballs you already have.

2. Add a cover photo - it makes landing on there a little more lovely if you've got a gorgeous image.

3. Build in a means of collecting people's email addresses, to ensure you're capturing multiple means of contacting your customers.

4. Add a little more "interaction" as most posts are one-way. That is, ask for comments, encourage shares, that sort of thing.

But hey - I haven't managed to get 7000 like for any business yet, so they seems to be doing ok without me!

Monday, August 06, 2012

Why fancy graphic design isn't always your friend online

I have worked with many clients over the years and some take some serious convincing that WORDS are as important as IMAGES in their marketing pieces.

With online such a key delivery and marketing tool, words are more important than ever before.

If you engage in email marketing, you should always balance words with design. Yet most of the "promotional" email lists I end up on (mostly online retail) insist on image heavy emails - going with the "picture speaks a thousand words" angle - that often are WASTED online.


Because MANY people use gmail (or hotmail) for their primary address. And these programs are automatically set NOT TO display images (you can change this setting, but most people don't). So this means you can invest in a designer to craft the most beautiful piece of creative...and half your audience will never see it.

This is good news for zero budget marketers - as more of us can write than can design! So as long as your COPY is good, your emails can be effective.

To illustrate: I've included a screen shot from an email I received in my gmail account. It's for the VicSuper Super Woman Money Program, which is one I have been working on with them this year.  There is a logo/image across the top that isn't displayed BUT the email still works without this. So that if people DO get images, it looks great, and if they don't, you still get an idea of what the email is about - so you're more likely to click "view images" if the email interests you.

In summary - images should COMPLEMENT the words, not seek to REPLACE the words in email marketing.  And your emails should be able to stand up without ANY images at all, as this is how MANY of your prospects may receive them.

PS. If you want to see what the email looks like with pictures, view online version here.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Never forget the power of a demonstration in marketing

Way back in the olden days (2001) I started my first marketing job for a television home shopping company. We made (or bought) infomercials. I was always astounded at just how persuasive they could be- even when I was sitting holding a pretty crappy product, after watching a 25 minute infomercial, I was ready to buy - with or without those steak knives!

The reason these were so powerful is that there were always demonstrations. SHOWING how the product or service could be used.  It's the same reason cooking shows are so popular - even if people aren't going to cook, they love to watch it unfold.

These days, if you're selling a product, you dont need to buy expensive air time for demonstrations. You can make a video on your iphone, edit it on your Mac with the free iMovie software, and voila - you have a hugely powerful selling tool for knicks.

Need some convincing?

Check out this FABULOUS demo video on one of my favourite online stationary stores, I know I'm ready to buy some of these markers....even though I can't draw and have no real use for them!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Handy (and cheap) deep etching service for photos

Just a quick one today - but this is such a great potential "zero budget" service for any of you selling online, or in PR, that I thought it rated a mention.

Pheditor is an Aussie based super cheap a photo editing service.

You upload pics to be "deep etched" (basically cut out of their background) and they do it in 2-3 days for $5 a shot or less If you have to pay a graphic designer to do it, you will pay anywhere from $30-$60 an image. So it really is a bargain and firmly in the zero budget marketing tools camp.

Why would you deep etch an image? It gives you a clean image to use online, or in a catalogue or editorial spread. I've used a pic from their blog to illustrate.

I've never used these guys, and I don't know them, but this is such a good price it's worth checking out if you need the service.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What makes a great subject line? What will make someone open and read your email?

Not all marketing tips need to be new and flashy. Sometimes we need to remember the basics - because if you don't get the basics right, nothing that follows will be worth much.

The basic I'm talking about is email SUBJECT LINES.

On average, I get around one hundred emails a day - not counting spam. I read things by clients or friends first (depending on how under the pump I am) and then the other 30 or so left are marketing or subscription emails. Of these, I probably scan 5-6 and actually read 3-4, as I'm just too busy to get to the rest. I suspect that's pretty standard for many people's whose job involves computers and communication.

So, what makes the cut.

I tend to lean towards reading my fave blog emails regardless, but on a busy day (most days), the emails that catch my eye are the ones that get looked at. And they catch my eye because of their subject line. Again, I'm just like everyone else. You need to get their attention before you have a chance to say ANYTHING.

So what makes a good subject line?

It needs to SUCK YOU IN. You have to want to read it.

You can do this by:

- being clever or intriguing

- packing in a lot of information so that one of several items is bound to appeal to people

- have a really compelling, time limited, DIFFERENT call to action

You cannot do it by being dull and pedestrian and revealing nothing new or enticing.

Sometimes you're rushed, sometimes you're not feeling creative, sometimes the client won't let you write what you want to write...there's always an excuse for doing a poor job.

But if you want to know what works, you just have to consider what would catch your eye on a busy day. If you don't think what you've written will suck someone in, go back to the drawing board.

PS. A quick tip is to include the person's name in the subject line. Everyone is obsessed with themselves (if you don't believe me, consider this: who do you look for first in a group photo that you're in?).

PPS. What does a great subject line look like more specifically?

There's a lady I've never met, who I've no affiliation with, who I've never bought from, that I think is a fantastic subject line writer. April Bowles authors a blog and runs courses on launching/running/marketing creative businesses. She's primarily marketing to women that run craft businesses, sell on Etsy, that sort of thing. I'm am not this demographic and I don't know how I found her, but I stay subscribed to her list because her emails are great - and her subject lines are what suck me in every time.

Here's some recent ones:

Last Call for Blogging for Your Creative Business + Why I almost chugged vodka at 10am

This would be so embarrassing...

Would you have done things differently today if you only had a few years to live?

Why the "But I'm Not a Good Writer" Excuse Sucks + A Lesson in Rap

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Making a decision can be your fastest way to save your budget

Some people have raised procrastination to an art form. They want time to ponder, consider, discuss, weigh up options. All of these are worthwhile activities - but not endlessly. In 'zero budget marketing' TIME is money. So if you're wasting time, you're wasting your marketing budget.

Yes, if you make a decision you might make the wrong one. But you might make the right one. Spending two months hand wringing, when you should have only spent two days, puts you that much further behind a potential benefit. It also means you've possibly met and discussed the same thing for hours and hours (or spent many hours inside your head).

So if you've got something you've been pondering - make a call, or set a date when a decision must be made and stick to it.

Sometimes the call is no, sometimes it's yes. But make a decision and move onto the next thing.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Can you find a subscription model?

The best marketing is marketing that's built in from the beginning. It's not an afterthought, not working out how to sell something AFTER it's developed.

Smart marketing is considered AT THE BEGINNING of a product or service life-cycle.

One of the most clever of marketing models - and thus sales models - is the subscription model. Why? Because you only need to "sell" once, but the sales keep coming in over months or, hopefully, years.

It's a pricing related concept, and pricing sometimes feels like the poorest of marketing cousins, but that doesn't mean it should be ignored.

Very profitable businesses are built on subscription models, from insurance to banking to utilities to media to professional services. So why not try and tap into this for your business? There is no reason it can't work for many more sectors, if only they thought about it how to apply it.

Don't believe me? If it can work for PET FOOD and EMERGENCY SUPPLIES, then it can work for a whole LOT of products and services. Go on, think about it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Looking for cost savings isn't just for small business

Sometimes the assumption with "zero budget" marketing is that it's only for new / start up / tiny businesses. But every day huge businesses are looking for ways to cut their spend, wherever they can, if it's not delivering results OR if they have come across a smarter way to approach a marketing challenge.

In January of this year, the Procter & Gamble CEO advised Wall Street he was scaling back his company's $10 billion annual ad budget (mostly in traditional media) to take advantage of free impressions offered by Facebook in the form of Likes and status updates. Yes, you read it right, $10 billion!

General Motors has recently followed suit in cutting their Facebook spend. That's two out of America's top three biggest advertisers. More on this here.

The two decisions were made for different reasons (GM isn't convinced Facebook ads are effective; P&G was seeking free media efficiencies) but they're linked.

It appears to be dawning on some businesses budgets that if your marketing content is interesting enough - engaging enough - you don't NEED to advertise on Facebook. Advertising on Facebook is can be free, if you can create something compelling enough to go viral. It goes back to ensuring your product, service - or marketing message - is remarkable.

Or put simply - stop shouting, start engaging with your market.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Some tips for Facebook marketing (on the cheap)

It's not exactly news that social media is big news for marketing. In fact, it seems to be all that some magazines and blogs talk about!

But for all the buzz, is it worth the time and effort and opportunity cost?

You see, social media marketing LOOKS free. But for anyone who's had a crack at it, you'll know it's extremely TIME intensive. It's also a slow build - especially if your business is not in a "hot" space, like fashion or music.

I've yet to see a case where social media was a huge marketing lead generation tool for business - but that doesn't mean it isn't happening. What I have seen work well is community building and "engagement" in the social media space. It's also hit the point where if you're NOT in the social media space, you look like you're 'old school'.

So with that in mind, are there tools out there to help you? Luckily, yes - and they're a lot cheaper to access than they were a year or two ago.


I've used and

All are multi-purpose and have quite low subscription levels - from free to around $30 a month on average.

I've used Lujure to build a landing page inside a Facebook page - so that instead of landing on the generic wall, you can link to a particular tab that's specific to the promotion you're running.

And I've used Woobox to run a promotion inside Facebook.

Both have been relatively easy to use and are worth trying out. (You will need to invest in some graphic design for images though - otherwise your promotions will look too homemade).


Some other things you may not know about Facebook marketing but you might want to try:
  • You can claim a USERNAME for a page (sometimes called a vanity URL). So instead of the "messy" URL that Facebook will auto-generate for you, you can have something like:
  • If you post images, you're more likely to be "liked" or shared. So avoid text based "updates" only. Why do you want people to click "like"? Because it improves your chance of being seen by the person and their friends.
  • The more you post, the more likely you are to continue to collect fans. Once a week is not enough. Several times a day is better. As is posting outside business hours, as this is when most people check Facebook.
  • Timeline gives you much great visual impact - and soon you'll HAVE to use it. So put some thought into your large image and profile pic.