Sunday, December 18, 2011
Seth Godin is THE MAN.
There is something DAILY in his blog that has me nodding so vigorously in agreement that I'm in danger of neck strain. I keep telling people to read it. He's very smart. He's insightful in just a few words. I'm glad some people do - I just had an email from a friends thanking me for putting her onto him, he's inspiring her daily.
"Want a bigger brand? Make bigger promises. And keep them."
The day before:
"Unfair or not, one Catch-22 truism remains: popular is often a prerequisite for being popular."
The day before that"
"Copy edit less, invent more
Give more speeches
Ignore unsolicited advice"
Thanks Seth for your daily dose of inspiration.
Saturday, December 17, 2011
WHAT A WEBSITE LOOKS LIKE IS NOT AS IMPORTANT AS HOW IT WORKS.
Now by "how it works" I mean both critical aspects:
The build - the mechanics that drive it and affect how easy (or impossible) it is to update, how well it can be indexed by Google, etc.
The sales - does it get your prospects / customers / members to do what you want them to do. Do they buy, or comment, or sign up.
If your site won't - or can't - deliver you a result, who CARES how pretty it is.
This is not to say there's no role for design. But if the world's most successful ecommerce sites are Amazon and eBay, you should have got the hint that looks aren't worth much!
I've been in online marketing since 2000. 12 years. I've worked with ALL sorts of sites, in all sorts of business. What I've seen is that websites built on CUSTOM systems are never a good idea in the long run, unless you're prepared to spend a lot of money.
By custom systems, I mean that every web company (and their dog) have built a CMS (content management system) over time. Or they've had a graphic designer "design" a pretty site and then coded it to suit.
If you are on a limited budget do NOT go this route (and even if you have a good budget, you may find that using a back end system almost no-one else uses will limit you within 2-3 years).
What should you do?
Use a cloud based computing solution like Wordpress or an open source system like Joomla or Drupal. If you want an ecommerce store, use MagentoGo or Shopify or Big Commerce.
Don't start from scratch unless you've got millions of dollars (or hours) to waste OR your website actually DOES something unique that needs unique systems and programing. Most don't. Most are online brochures or online stores.
It is not cutting corners to use these systems.
It's SMART. It's a good use of your funds. It's still a "proper" website. You wont be locked into one developer. Millions of people are using these, so you're not paying for the upgrades. It's not a short cut. It's not doing it poorly. Build your success on the learning of millions of businesses before you. That's what a smart zero budget marketer does when they can.
Thursday, December 01, 2011
I just received one of the best THANK YOU letters (well, an email) I've ever received for a donation. Online made it simple to send, thanks to automation, but the content is what's great.
The first line is brilliant. It subtly recognises that much of "giving" is really about making the GIVER feel good.
It then goes to to give you a little bit of knowledge, followed by a big deal of inspiration.
So it made me smile. And feel like I'm a good person. And that's I'm part of something.
When was the last time you got all that for $20?
You are amazing, thank you so much for donating to the Wikimedia Foundation!
This is how we pay our bills -- it's people like you, giving five dollars, twenty dollars, a hundred dollars. My favourite donation last year was five pounds from a little girl in England, who had persuaded her parents to let her donate her allowance. It's people like you, joining with that girl, who make it possible for Wikipedia to continue providing free, easy access to unbiased information, for everyone around the world. For everyone who helps pay for it, and for those who can't afford to help. Thank you so much.
I know it's easy to ignore our appeals, and I'm glad that you didn't. From me, and from the tens of thousands of volunteers who write Wikipedia: thank you for helping us make the world a better place. We will use your money carefully, and I thank you for your trust in us.
Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director
Monday, October 31, 2011
Whilst preparing a full marketing plan isn't everyone's cup of tea, it can be a worthwhile exercise for anyone with a great idea, but little idea of how to move forward with it. If you come from a marketing background you may not need the help, but if you don't, you've probably identified marketing as a critical success area - since it's the area that will ensure you get some $$ coming in the door.
Preparing a marketing plan could even be more important than a business plan, which tend to be written without enough practical detail.
Download the Marketing Plan guide here>
Saturday, October 15, 2011
"Cancer Information received 77% of its traffic from paid links in the week preceding Steve Jobs death, whereas in the week ending 8 October 55% of clicks came from a paid link. This might well be as a result of the increased natural traffic coming through because of the rise in overall searches, but if search volumes were increasing, Macmillan could have increased its PPC spend proportionally in order to maintain its market share of visits. However, the drop in market share indicates that this was a missed opportunity for the cancer charities, who could have increased their PPC spend on key pancreatic cancer search terms to ensure they were grabbing searchers at this peak time of interest."
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
What do you want a website visitor to do at the end of each page they read?
You will want them to read another page, sign up to an email newsletter, contact you, like you on facebook or even buy from you!
But do you ask them to DO this?
If your website isn't brand new, you probably haven't looked at it critically in a long time. Not only will there be out of date information, there will likely be a better way to say much of what you've written and you'll find a call to action is probably missing from most pages.
You might argue that you've got buttons or links people can use to "buy now". But why make it hard for your visitors? Why not take them on a journey; tell them where to go next from each page and what they should do. You might keep them engaged just that little bit longer, which gives you just enough time to 'convert' them.
You need a call to action in ALL of your marketing communications (just like the fabulous zero budget marketing sign in the picture) and your website is no different. Each and every page of your website is a piece of marketing communication. Make sure you ASK people to do something on all pages, not just the promotional articles.
So put your marketing web audit in your diary now. Not exciting, not glamorous - but it will be effective.
Monday, September 05, 2011
Whilst there's little room for "traditional" advertising in a blog about zero budget marketing the insights of good copy writing translate to other mediums.
Around 50 legends share some of their insight on writing, and some of their best ads. (Even if you're not interested in the craft of copywriting, it's a great book.) I thought I'd share some of the gems from these admen, who've all had 30+ years in the game. These are edited extracts, their actual inclusions are much longer.
Oh, and if you only take away one thing, David Abbott's point 5 is the one to adhere to.
I've never been much of a theoriser about copywriting, but here are five things that I think are more of less true:
1. Put yourself in your work. Use your life to animate your copy. If something moves you, chances are, it will touch someone else, too.
2. Think visually. Ask someone to describe a spiral staircase and they'll use their hands as well as words. Sometimes the best copy is no copy.
3. If you believe that facts persuade (as I do), you'd better learn how to write a list so that it doesn't read like a list.
4. Confession is good for the soul and for copy, too. Bill Bernbach used to say "a small admission gains a large acceptance". I still think he was right.
5. Don't be boring.
My own copy improved when it occurred to me that we relate to a company as we do a person. Unless we're investors, we don't ask how many employees a company has, what its financial fearing is, where it exports. We as; is it honest, reliable, modest, amusing, trustworthuy. If ti is, that company may eventually become our friend. I have come to think that helping companies turn into friends is the greatest thing we advertising people can do for our clients.
- Don't think, just do, and thoughts will definitely happen along the way.
- Always be collecting
- Wake up early
- Beware of the committee
- Less isn't always more
- Pick a side
- Avoid brainstorms (if you want to)
- We are not in the entertainment business, we're in the influence business
- Copywriting is more science than you may think
- Creative prizes are false God
- We influence some of the least important decisions in people's lives
- Beware (becoming) management
It was probably my grounding in direct mail that taught me my obligations to the reader, I was usually entering their homes uninvited and because of that I always felt that my first responsibility was to them - and not the client. I wasn't there to foist a product or service on the prospect. I twas my job to show how the think I was writing about could solve the reader's problems.
Thursday, September 01, 2011
If you're a small business selling products online, you can't underestimate the importance of product photography.
But businesses do underestimate this - all the time. Seriously, with some sites you're lucky to get a single, badly lit shot! (Sometimes this is a cost consideration - marketplaces like eBay usually limit you to 1 photo unless you pay more. But most of the time, it's just poor execution.)
Even if you have a low or zero marketing budget, there really is no excuse! You can get a cheap camera for a hundred or so dollars and do a better job than most online stores do. You could even use an iphone and use one of the hundred or so photography apps out there that can improve even the worst photos.
Depending on your product, photography can also often be sourced from the suppliers, so there's little excuse to not provide...well, MORE.
You see, the secret isn't really GREAT photography (although that helps). It's having A LOT OF PHOTOGRAPHY. When people can't touch and feel, try to give them the next best thing. Pictures, pictures and more pictures.
I've included this listing from fab Melbourne online stationery store Notemaker. This is a fantastic example of how to use product photography well. Why?
-It gives you lots of angles & perspectives.
-It shows you inside and out.
-It shows it to you in someone's hand (valuable for PERSPECTIVE, which can be hard to judge online, even if measurements are provided).
- The COLOUR in the shots is consistent between shots. Consistent, and natural lighting if possible, is the way to get this.
Now what can be really worthwhile is including video (Asos does this with many of their clothing items). But that's a bigger ask than photography, so I won't get off topic.
So, consider what you're selling online. We talk a lot about words, and design, but consider if there are enough pictures to really SELL it. If not, head off an get cracking!
Post by Kimberly Palmer at Brazen Productions - smart marketing, words & events
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
(That said, I really enjoyed being able to change the status to married as I looked at a lot of those ads way too many times. Hint: don't run the same ad for months at a time!).
I've yet to have the occasion to run a Facebook advertising campaign for a client, but I'm watching and waiting for the right chance. Why? They currently seem to be an inexpensive - and less cluttered - way to conduct CPC (cost per click) advertising than Google IF you have a product or service that matches the environment.
Why do I make this distinction?
People are searching on Google for information. A huge variety of information. That's not the case with Facebook. People are on Facebook to catch up with friends and family (or at least find our what they're doing without even having to speak to them!).
So the Facebook audience are less likely to look at advertising and less likely to respond to certain types of advertising. Yet there's also less ads on facebook that you'd expect to find. Even if you voluntarily click on "see all" next to "sponsored", there were only about 20 ads where I "fit" the profile set up by advertisers. These are things like age, gender, education level and where you live.
So if it's a less cluttered space, and if you have something that you feel will appeal, it's a cheap marketing test. So if you do have the right product or service, the next thing to consider is what makes an effective Facebook advert. (For the sake of this article, effective just means what I think works, as I'm not privvy to the success of these ads).
These three adverts I've grabbed at random because I think two work well, one is uninspired, but there's something to learn from all of them.
Advert 1 - The "hook" in this advert is the competition side of it. LOTS of people like to win tickets, so it's a great way to get traffic. The cute little image stands out too. What is less apparent is what's being advertised - North Coast Holiday Parks. I'm assuming this is a flash way of saying "caravan parks". When you click on this, you go to their page. The lost opportunity with this great little advert is that you can "enter" without "liking" the page. The opportunity to win should have been traded for a like. And they should have brought you to a special landing page in Facebook, rather than the generic wall. This isn't as exxy as you might imagine - you can build one for free at places like Lujure. Why do you want a Like? Then you're actually likely to be able to market - and potentially SELL - in the future.
Advert 2 - The issue with this advert - there's NO real hook. It's just shouting at me about vague deals. This could have been great for a "sponsored stories" type of advertisement (in Facebook you can run "facebook ads" or "sponsored stories"). You could run a POLL on your page as a "post" and have this show as the advertisement. The poll could be something like "What place would you most like to travel to.." as the website that's being advertised seems to be a generic online travel site, not one about Malaysia specifically. So much more can be done with a fun product like travel to sell...
Advert 3 - This ad has such great copy because it draws you in, telling you a story. LOVE that about it. It's going to hit a pretty small market though - those considering University and possibly already pondering studying to be a pharmacist. As such, I'd question the marketer's decision to include someone like me in the demographic - that is, almost 40 and already having a University degree. So big ticks for the copy, less so for the targeting, as it means you may be paying more in the CPC auction that necessary (as the wider the market, potentially the greater the CPC bidding competition).
In summary - Facebook advertising can be a pretty good zero budget small business marketing tool, but just because it's "cheap", doesn't mean you shouldn't think carefully about how to use it. By that, I'm talking ROI (return on investment) - and how to ultimately get a LIKE ... and then a SALE!
Friday, August 26, 2011
We all love a surprise gift - no matter who it's from.
And just because you're a business person, or a business customer, doesn't mean you've suddenly become a robot. PEOPLE make purchasing decisions, even in B2B.
I wanted to share this fantastic initiative by MailChimp, who I've just signed up to use for a client because of their snazzy RSS-to-Email service (more about that in another post...I think it's going to be GOLD for those who never seem to find time to send newsletters).
My first campaign was just automatically broadcast and this little email arrived in my inbox. Not only did it say my campaign had been sent - but there's mention of a gift.
So, not one to look any gift horse in the mouth, I clicked on "Gimme My Gift".
Turns out I got to pick my size of a Mail Chimp T-Shirt, and there's one coming over the pond to me! Yes, a free t-shirt. In the mail. Something physical and tangible from this most intangible of services.
I doubt my reaction of delighted surprise is unique. Yes, I know it's just a promo t-shirt, that I will maybe only wear to bed. But that's not the point.
Not only have I had a great business experience - the email went where it was supposed to, etc - but my purchasing decision has been re-enforced again. Instead of my next interaction being a bill, it's a gift. GREAT experience.
And whilst this is hardly zero budget - the tshirt and postage may run $10-$15 - as my MONTHLY spend with them will be at least $50, this is a tiny cost. A $15 gift for $600 of business annually. That's only 2.5% of my annual spend. Starting to see the marketing magic?
This program is automated, but feels personal. It's re-inforcing the brand. It's making me feel smart for buying. And it's remembering that KEEPING customers is as important - if not more important - than acquiring them.
What can your small business marketing program take from this? What little surprise can you give to a customer to improve their day - and help solidify your business relationship?
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
According to a new 2011 Australia Institute survey, 46% of respondents said the order in which search results appear "always" or "sometimes" influences their purchasing decisions, and only 15% said they look past the first page of results.
The survey questioned 1,084 people in July 2011. It also found:
- 37% did not know search engines displayed paid advertising,
- 34% did not know search rankings would change based on what engine they use and
42% believed that relevance was more important than paid advertising.
So, that should really answer your question. It's still very important - perhaps more than ever - to be on the first page of Google. You need to consider SEO.
Before you panic, you can probably make this happen (if you're not in the world's most competitive space) by doing just a few things consistently:
- Write useful and meaningful web copy, which is great for your audience but great for Google too. Make sure you includes the key words and phrases you think (or know -if you're tracking it) people will use to find you. So if you're a Melbourne graphic designer, make sure you use this phrase all over your website - and not just in copy, but in links, headlines, page titles, et. Google rewards relevance.
- Get other sites to link to you and link to other sites. The first is more important.
- Keep updating content on your site over time - don't set and forget. Google likes freshness.
This is enough to get you started. There are people out there that know a lot - and share a lot - of information about SEO. So once you've got your head around the basics, go out and educate yourself. This is a zero budget marketing tool you can't afford not to be using.
Report Source: "How Market Concentration Threatens Internet Diversity", Australia Institute, 2011
This blog is written by Kimberly Palmer, Brazen Productions
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Not just in an advertisement - on every page of copy of your website, on every email or letter you send, on anything you produce that aims to communicate something about your business. A marketing call to action doesn't need to be a call to BUY - but it should lead your prospect/customer somewhere next. If it doesn't, you're essentially abandoning them - and missing a big opportunity for action.
This email I've just received from The Point in Albert Park is a glaring example of a missed opportunity and a missing call to action.
They've got something exciting to tell me - the fact they've again won the best steakhouse. Call me crazy, but I'm guessing the reason they're telling me this is that they'd like me to think "wow, I should book dinner there". (Which I did immediately consider doing, as my husband is a steak lover).
But there's nothing in this email to encourage me to do this. Not a single line of copy. Nor are any of those awards images linked to a special landing page with more information on this story. (In fact, they're linked to the home page of the website that ALSO doesn't have a prominent phone number or call to action to book dinner or an event. For a bar or a restaurant, you must have that phone number on every page of your site - don't make people have to hunt for it.)
They've spent the time (and dollars) to make a pretty nice looking email, with a great news message. It would have cost NOTHING extra to add this sentence, in prominent type:
"Kimberly, if you love your steak, we'd recommend you book for dinner now as we expect we'll be jammed for weeks. Call us on XXXXXXXXX to make your reservation."
It's also the sort of news people would probably share with a friend or family member who's really into their steak. So another sentence with a "send this steak news to a friend" would also be smart. And free. (Your email marketing provider will have this as a built in feature.)
Zero Budget Marketing - for small business marketing or large business marketing - is making sure every opportunity is maximised and paying attention to the little details.
TO DO NOW: Go check your communications and make sure everything has a call to action.
Don't miss out on other zero budget marketing ideas - you can follow this blog or subscribe via email. Or why don't you tell a friend in need of some free marketing advice about this blog.
Tuesday, August 09, 2011
We know the Internet is a massive pool of information - but it's also a giant educational tool. You do need to sift through the massive amount of (crap, rubbish, sale pitches) "information" but you can find some absolute gems. The business and marketing world are constantly changing and it's up to you to keep pace, particularly if you want to bring some zero budget marketing gold to your venture.
So what can you learn today?
One skill I recently invested some time learning about was video production. Why? The web allows us to communicate with much more than words and static images - so I wanted to know more about how to make videos. Did I have to use an expensive production company every time? What was really involved? Or could I make short little videos for myself (or even my clients) to feature on their websites, or on facebook or youtube?
I got fantastic info and took some great little courses at New York Video School online. I actually liked their content so much I even ended up paying to subscribe after the free trial ended, because they go beyond the technical aspects and cover areas like storytelling. I bought myself a Kodak Zi8 camera for about $100 online, (although I now have an iphone that will take pretty reasonable video too). I trekked around to find an external microphone for the camera for about $50 (and found that almost no-one in Melbourne sells these btw, ended up at trusty Michaels, where I probably should have started). And I took the tutorials that came with iMovie on my Mac. So having spent all of $250, I had the tools, and some great pointers, to start making video.
As with most skills, a little bit of knowledge makes you realise how much more you have to learn. (And that if you try to film yourself without make up it isn't pretty!) BUT I did start to make a few basic videos in interview format for some client sites - and with continued practice, I'll keep improving.
It also means next time there IS the budget to hire a production company, I'll be starting the process as a much more educated client, able to give a more comprehensive brief, with the outcome a better result for all.
So....what can YOU learn today?
Tuesday, August 02, 2011
I wanted to share the cause related campaign the Grill'd burger chain are running...spotted when out to enjoy a Zen Hen Chicken Burger!
Friday, July 29, 2011
Yet Google Analytics provides you with so much information about your business that you often only take in the basics - how many visitors, how long are they spending, what page are they leaving from, what is the bounce rate (where they only visit one page and leave) and maybe how many goal conversions or what key words are bringing people to your site.
It is worth digging deeper occasionally, as it may reveal some business issues that need your attention. This can be less about analysis and more about recognising a trend.
Here's one example...
Browsers - with many of the clients I help manage, I've been watching an interesting trend emerge over the past couple of years. By far the most popular browser was Internet Explorer...but no longer. Gradually Firefox gained traction and interestingly, Safari is also now extremely popular.
Why the Safari dominance? The proliferation of iphones and ipads.
Why does browser matter? If your website was built more than 3 years ago, it may not have been tested well (or at all) on a browser like Safari. So does it work as it should on Firefox, Safari or Chrome? And if not, how much of your hard won traffic is getting a sub-standard experience?
Thursday, July 28, 2011
I was recently asked to speak on email marketing. It's a marketing tool close to my heart, because it has allowed so many of my zero budget marketing campaigns come to life. Who can argue with reaching 5,000 people for around $60?!
Lately, however, email marketing has been a little left in the cold by social media. In fact, you'd be forgiven for thinking the ONLY way to go is to the land of twitter, facebook, youtube, tumblr & the rest.
But I'm here to remind you that you should not neglect your old friend, the email marketing list. Why? The number one reason is that unlike with social media tools, it's YOU that own the list with email marketing. You don't really own those hard won facebook likes. If facebook disappeared tomorrow (god forbid!), so would your "list".
It's so hard to get visitors to your website. Thus, it's often unrealistic that they'll buy from you immediately. But it's less unrealistic that they'll engage in another way. Getting their email address is what I recommend you aim for, rather than ONLY ask them to like you on facebook or follow you on twitter.
If you're interested, you can download a PDF of the presentation here>
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
You need to sell it! Promoting an event is NOT about brevity. You'll often need to provide a LOT of information, and likely some enticement, to help them make a decision to attend. In other words, you need to SELL them ... even if the event is free.
Events are a hard way to make money. Yes, some people make a lot of money running events. But a lot more don't. If you're trying to make a buck, ticket sales almost always won't be enough. You'll need a sponsor - or lots of them.
Copywriting is king. Yes, with most marketing, you need great copy to convince people to attend your event. You should include:
- A descriptive and enticing subject line to your email invitation (as almost all event invites these days are sent via email). Including the date there doesn't hurt either.
- Throw out generic/bland titles - go a little crazy if you must. A clever and catchy title AND then a more "straight" subtitle that summarises the content of the event, is a good way to go.
- Just because it's a business event, doesn't mean it needs to be dull. Make the event sound INTERESTING, engaging and like they might learn something they wont find elsewhere.
- Establish “the issue” – that is, why should people CARE about the content of the event. Asking questions in copy or providing trusted research result is a useful technique.
- Provide an overview of what will be covered, preferably in bullet points, to make scanning easy. You can then expand and provide long copy.
- Provide a bio of the speaker and a summary of their credentials. A couple of audience testimonials from previous speaking events never hurts either.
- Add a sense of urgency in the call to action if possible (ie. Only 17 places remaining)
And keep asking. More than one invitation is a must. 3-4 invitations is ideal. No, it's not really badgering because most people take a long time to take action!
Make & follow a checklist. After you've done all the clever stuff, make sure you've also done the "boring but necessary" stuff, such as CHECKING that you've included the right date and time and the venue .... sounds simple, but so easy to miss! A proof reader for this is your best asset.
Final golden rule: Even if an event is free, people’s time is NOT. They won't forgive you for wasting it, so make sure the event is worthwhile.
Monday, July 11, 2011
- Don't forget local media - it can be easier to get featured IF you have a local angle (and often more than once)
- Good blogs are increasingly viewed as media - so don't forget bloggers, or partner/friend companies who might write about you / your offering. (A recent article in the Australian on food bloggers might have been derisive about them BUT noted that PRs targeting them had more consistently POSITIVE coverage from them than their print counterparts).
- Do have someone else proof read! It's so easy to make a spelling/grammar error - but that's no excuse. Don't rely on spell check, as a person to proof read before you send out.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Facebook is one of the behemoths of the space, with 700 million users. As someone that runs several Facebook "pages" for clients, I can attest getting Likes takes time and effort, and can be slow going.
There are some good cheap tools appearing to help go beyond the basic interaction (such as Wildfire), but I guess the question on many people's lips is...is it worth it?
I thought this quote was telling, in an article published yesterday on Smart Company, about the sale of KidSpot.com.au for a reported $45 million.
News Limited chief John Hartigan said in a statement Kidspot was attractive partly due to its 31,000 fans on Facebook, representing one of the largest, "most active" fan bases of any Australian media group.
So I think that's a rather resounding yes, it probably is worth it, for even more reasons that you thought! And as a Facebook page is a great zero budget marketing tool, it is well worth your consideration for inclusion in your box of marketing tactics.
Wednesday, June 08, 2011
Having recently been on the receiving end of a bad sales call (as in, someone trying to sell something TO me) it reminded me that the most fatal mistake you can make is this: Forgetting that there needs to be a benefit for BOTH parties.
You often need to "sell" more than your product or service. You may need to sell:
- your point of view,
- you might need to sell a partnership opportunity,
- you might need to convince someone to speak at an event,
- you might need to get someone to cross-promote with you.
All of these are "sales" opportunities.
So consider this perspective of your "prospect".....Just because you want to sell to me, doesn't mean that I should buy from you. It has to be a smart choice for BOTH of us. That means, you might need to LISTEN TO ME about what I need - and work out if you can deliver that. You absolutely will no be able to magically convince me to buy something (or buy into an idea) if you're the only one that will "win" from the deal. Know that even if you're dressing it up well, if you're a slick sales person, I'll still be able to spot a bad deal. So don't waste my time.
Sales is such a critical part of marketing - give it the respect and effort it deserves.
Saturday, June 04, 2011
In my case, I was doing some work for my carsharing client, Flexicar. I was checking out some new potential parks in a parking garage and reviewing the signage of a competitor. So, never having been to this car park, I had to use the tools our customers have available to them - in this case, our website & the map of parks...and I discovered that the publicly available information was NOT ENOUGH to find the park. The floor and bay number were NOT available. We did send more detailed information in a booking confirmation email, but what if they didn't have that with them...customers rarely doing exactly what you ask!
So by putting myself in the customer's shoes I inadvertently identified a pretty big issue - by updating the information on the site, it will ensure a smoother experience for new customers visiting that site, will cut customer service phone calls and will generally create a more positive experience for the customer. And it's the ultimate zero budget marketing fix - it will cost NOTHING to do and take only a few minutes of my time.
I have been preaching "put yourself in your customers shoes" forever - but this proves it something you need to do in ALL facets of your business, over and over again. I find that with many online businesses I visit, it's IMMEDIATELY apparent there are obvious - and quick - improvements that could be made to improve a customer experience, and improve sales.
So if it's been a while since you took a step back and tried to BE your customer, then I can only recommend giving it a go today. OR even better, sit behind someone who hasn't used your site and watch their experience with your online business (or physical space). I guarantee you'll identify several things you didn't even think were issues.
Friday, June 03, 2011
These clever people have used a standard "we've moved" message to create an eye-catching display that is there long after they've stopped paying rent. (The landlord will likely keep it there as empty shops usually ensure you can't see in...just too tempting to trouble makers).
And in true zero budget marketing tradition, they didn't pay for expensive signage, this is painted onto rolls of butcher's paper. Of course, someone is obviously a talented artist, which helps, but if zero budget is all about using creativity instead of bucks, this is a perfect example.
What underutilizsd physical or virtual space you could be using to make people aware of your business....
PS. The window is for Kappaya, now at Abbotsford Convent.
Friday, May 27, 2011
I snapped this recently as I felt it perfectly summarised what it is that a marketing approach will bring to a business. Someone's witty little message - "Junk collected, antiques sold" - gets to the heart of the matter.
A marketing approach should do the following:
- Realise you're selling an emotional response rather than just a product or service (your product or service SAYS SOMETHING about the person buying it, if only to them)
- Recognising that clever copy, and the right words, can make all the difference
- Sell the benefits, not just features.
- Price matters - and that budget or discount isn't the only pricing choice.
- Have a clear message and know the value of being a specialist in something, so that people know when to buy from you
- Know what it is your target market is looking for so that you can sell it to them (which involves the marketing golden rule of first putting yourself in their shoes)
So, don't think like a business owner; think like a marketer. Buy junk, sell antiques.
PS. And for a zero budget, yet highly effective, marketing tool, you can't go past the chalk board. They stand out so well these days because everything else is so "slick" and they have an unbeatable nostalgia value, plus the benefit of allowing you to change your message daily!
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
I spotted this fabulous little example in Byron Bay. It's a sky dive business and the ONLY store frontage it had was a staircase - the whole business was upstairs.
So not only had some bright spark decided that some eye catching colour was needed. They took it a step further and got zero budget marketing creative. They've painted various ascending heights on each of the steps.
Simple - check
Effective - check
Cheap - check
Clever - check
What asset - physical or otherwise - are you currently not making the most of?
Monday, May 09, 2011
Search engine optimisation is zero budget marketing gold for many businesses. It's also something pretty basic that MOST businesses don't get.
Understanding WHAT keywords people are searching for - and thus what you should potentially NAME your business or ensure you write about in your copy - is the first step. I am by no means an SEO expert, but I've regularly been able to get very quick traffic & buyer growth for clients just by updating copy and headers to include the right keywords. Many website use way too little copy, so just a little can go a long way!
Whilst there are paid tools and services around to work out what services you should use, Google has several of it's OWN tools that you can use.
Google Insights and Google Adwords Keyword tool are two that I've used regularly, but thought I'd share this helpful and comprehensive post from Link Assist which has TWELVE free Google tools you can use.
Wednesday, May 04, 2011
So what makes this little flyer worth talking about? After giving it a quick glance, I DIDN'T throw it out.
It survived the "chuck test" and made it onto my fridge, then my metre box.
It told me not to throw it out, and gave me a reason.
At the bottom of the flyer it said:
"Dont throw this away. Put it in your metre box in case you ever need an electrician in an emergency."
So simple, but effective. If , like many people, you don't have your own electrician of speed dial, this makes so much sense that I felt compelled to follow the flyers instructions.
This is what good marketing should be. A potential solution to a problem-and often a problem you didn't realize you had!
This electrician got this. That it isn't about spending a tones on design and delivery if you don't have the message right.
It also shows that "unaddressed delivery", the cheapest of "direct mail" ( you can letterbox drop yourself or pay Australia post around 13-14 cents an item) can get a result. Not every time, and perhaps only when I have an electrical fault, but with a clever enough message, it's a zero budget marketing winner.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
As a recent iPad purchaser, though long time iphone user, I thought I should do a little more investigation into apps. Whilst there are over two hundred thousand around, there doesn't seem to be THAT much that is useful for a business user.
So I wondered....as an app is pretty much a little piece of software, how much would it cost? Is it out of the realm of zero budget marketing to build your own app without being a programmer, or having to pay a programmer?
Turns out the answer is....yes, you can build a DIY app on a very small budget.
There are actually quite a few online app builders, where you can make your own app, and pay a relatively small monthly subscription for the service. Around $40 seems the norm.
Now, the catch is, these aren't super cool apps that do super cool things. They're somewhat like a mini-mobile website. So unless you have some engaged customers or members already, it's unlikely anyone is going to download and use your painstakingly created app.
But, if you are in the content creation business already, a regularly blog, tweet, write, etc, these make your own apps could be worth it. And at a few hundred bucks a year, it could very well be worth the investment.
So, here's the ones I've come across - not tested by me as yet, merely so you can use it as a place to start your own research:
appmakr.com (marketing guru Seth Godin built his app on this, which made me interested in it! It is the one pictured)
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Website essentials for tourism businesses (and most other businesses too!)
1. Put a LOT more information on your website people! A tonne. There's no cost-per-word to add more content. At the bare minimum, ensure everything about your own facilities and services are there. One new-ish and quite flash golf resort we visited neglected to have on their website that there was a day spa. Ah, do you think that's not something guests might like to know, especially golf widows such as this one?! Talk about an obvious missed opportunity. I only knew in advance because I called and asked in December when I booked - and by March they STILL hadn't updated their site.
On top of the sites that omit information, there's the sites that just give you the bare minimum information - when what they could be giving you is a whole bunch of enticing tourist information that makes their AREA/TOWN worth visiting. Don't just tell me about your B&B - tell me why I should stop in your town and not the next one. Where can I eat? Is there anything to see, like a walk or a great beach? It's your job to convince me of the value of your town, not just your accommodation.
2. Reviews. Tell me what OTHERS thought about your accommodation/tour/service/food. I want to know that you aren't the only one who thinks it's great. Otherwise, I (and others like me) will just head to a site like Trip Advisor, where you will have a whole lot less control over what is posted about your or your business. You could even include an "online guest book" (using a free form tool like Wufoo) to capture comments as visitors leave, then publish them every week or two to your own site.
3. Make sure the information is accurate. Mona, a FABULOUS new gallery out the outskirts of Hobart I can highly recommend, had apparently changed the ferry times to reach the site WEEKS before the date we visited...but had not changed it on their website! So we show up to catch a ferry that's going half an hour later and coming back half an hour earlier than we'd planned. This threw out our plans a bit and meant we had to drive so that we wouldn't miss it in the time we had available. If you've built a useful, functioning website, changing something like ferry times should take 15 minutes tops...and ensure there's every chance people will get to your attraction.
- Most bookings are handled online - so automate an email (or do it manually) to THANK people for visiting. Tourism is a very worth of mouth business. Do something a little extra and watch the good word spread like wildfire.
- Work together with traders in your community to make something unique about your town. I loved that the tiny town of Sheffield was "the town on murals". Someone had to think of that, co-ordinate it - and now they have created a reason for people to stop in this teeny spot.
You can tap into this "fear" when marketing, by creating scarcity. Whether it's a limited number of items, or a strictly limited time, you create a sense of urgency with those you're marketing too. It's perfect for marketing events (only 17 seats left!) but it can be used much more broadly also.
I subscribe to updates from a fashion site, Igigi. They've taken this to heart and they run semi-regular 6 hour sales. How do I know this works for them? Because they keep doing it! As a test case of 1, I would click to see what's on sale at least 50% of the time, despite the fact I've yet to ever buy from them.
Virgin Blue have a similar tool, although it's even shorter and more regular. They have "happy hour" bookings from 12-1pm on a weekday.
So the zero budget marketing tip for today is to consider - what can you create scarcity around to drive short term sales results?
ps. Just come across another great time limited promotion on a craft education blog, Blacksburg Belle. I had an email prompting it at 1.30am (as it's a US site) and when I clicked on to learn more at 7am, the "10 places only" offer was filled. So more evidence of time limited/space limited offers being effective.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
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!
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 traction...you just need to come up with that killer idea.
Monday, February 21, 2011
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!
Friday, February 18, 2011
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!
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
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
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
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!)
Friday, January 28, 2011
But not the sort of PR that most people THINK is PR - putting out a media release to any and all comers.
Well targeted PR is what's key. Being in/on the right medium for your product or service. This means that with your limited time you can focus on researching the right medium and ensuring the pitch is interesting to someone else (there's a whole other blog post on what NEWS actually is!).
I just saw a great example of selecting the right medium - and thanks to The Start Up Daily for sharing the details of their success with Springwise.
I love Springwise; a fantastic site & newsletter that shares news of very creative, entrepreneurial startups. I always finish reading it and feel inspired...and with a few ideas in my back pocket. Yesterday they featured a business idea that I thought was very clever - a daily blog featuring a vignette of wisdom from a business book each day. The revenue model will be kick backs on book sales. Obviously a volume game, but I think it has potential.
So I signed up. Here's the kicker. Apparently, so did 41% of the visitors from Springwise! 41% is a DREAM conversion rate. It's MASSIVE.
The Start Up Daily had obviously found the RIGHT place to attempt to get coverage. The author, Karl's, post said he was shooting for 1000 subscribers by 1 Feb. When I visited yesterday he was at 2,500. And today he's at 3,300!
What a success. Now, as long as Karl keeps on putting out great updates, and he keeps reminding people to do so, they'll share. And he'll keep growing.
So the zero budget marketing tip today is that PR is your best friend if you (a) have a great story to tell and (b) find the right place to target the story. And the right place isn't necessarily a daily newspaper...in fact, in today's online world, the right blog post can apparently blow your aspirations out of the water.
Thursday, January 27, 2011
The measure of a good marketing business is how well they deal with problems; when things go WRONG rather than when they go right. Too often businesses ignore problems, ignore unhapy customers - but in the world of social media, that's a dangerous strategy to maintain.
As a regular (some would say TOO regular!) online shopper, I am on many mailing lists. I noticed an offer from Mimco a few days ago, but was more interested in this follow up email that just came out.
I don't know what happened BUT it looks like a promotion they've set up has hit some sort of snag; perhaps their fault, perhaps not. But what is interesting is how they've dealt with it. Not only haven't they ignored it, they've provided a fix AND made a bit of a marketing opportunity out of it. I particularly like how their promo code is "Whoops".
Ultimately, they've managed to turn a negative into a positive - and given themselves and extra customer contact opportunity at the same time. They're also obviously committed to their social media, as the have immediately dealt with the comments/posts people have made regarding the issue.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Local marketing can be both easy AND hard. Easy because you have a nice, geographically designed area to target. Hard because if you can't find a way to influence or entice that market, you're in some serious trouble.
I'm a big proponent of the free trial- giving your product away with the confidence that if it's good, people will come back for more.
Nashi is a cafe franchise in Melbourne - great sandwiches by the way. They're moving into a new location near a client of mine, and they've done two very smart things.
1. They identified larger businesses in the "zone" they'll be opening in and delivered a box of free food - per floor - to each. (They didn't have anything IN the box about the store opening, my recommendation would have been to do this too).
2. They've managed to get the company to put a $5 gift voucher offer out by the company to all staff members, which also communicates when they're opening. I've included this in the image.
This isn't a totally zero budget example, but the whole exercise would have likely been $1-$2000 in product to reach hundreds of prospective customers. And they've ensured that all their potential target market knows the type of food, when they'll be opening, and what is in it for the customer to come in early ($5 voucher).
So let's say it costs $10 to reach each potential customer. But this campaign will immediately pay for itself. And the beauty of a cafe is that it isn't a single sale. A loyal customer will return several times a week, if not every day. The annual value of a sandwich and coffee purchase twice a week is around $1000 PER PERSON. The lifetime value is going to be somewhere between $2000-$10,000 per person.
Suddenly a few free muffins and a $5 voucher looks like a pretty cheap idea, doesn't it?!
This promotion look a bit of legwork no doubt, but is a great example of a zero budget marketing promotional idea.
Saturday, January 22, 2011
An advertising creative looking for a job paid for a Google Adwords campaign on five NY Creative Directors - and when they googled themselves, the top listing they saw was an advertisement relating to hiring him.
Love it. Watch his brief slideshow. Not to give the game away, but he got 4 interviews & 2 job offers. And the campaign cost him...$6.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
When you're in "zero budget marketing" land, often putting together your own creative (copy, emails, website, promotions, etc), there is still value preparing a brief, even if it's only for yourself.
Yes, it is more work, but it's a good exercise; it makes you consider all of the important elements - IN ADVANCE. After all, it's very easy to miss things when you're trying to do everything; so consider it both a pre-planning tool and a great checklist.
Here are some items you might want to have on your own campaign brief...
What problem are you trying to solve?:
What are your 3 key objectives for this activity?:
Who are you talking to and what do you know about them?
What do you want them to think and do?
What single/clear message should the communication convey?: (eg. headline/subject line)
What additional information needs to be shared?: (body copy)
At what point in the decision making journey will the prospect see this communication?: (location, website, research vs ready to purchase, etc)
How is what you are saying that is DIFFERENT/distinct from your competitors? Why should customers care about your business/your offer?
What does success look like for this project/campaign? (eg. what results do you want?)
How you will measure success?:
What is the call to action?:
Is this part of a bigger campaign?
What relevant activity has already run? (from you or competitor)
REAL WORLD INSIGHT
Is there anything going on in the world that is relevant to this campaign?
website address? And have you double checked the accuracy of any links!
terms and conditions?
Timings Material deadlines: Live Date: End Date: Review point: (etc)
No - go forth and run a more successful zero budget marketing campaign!
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Snapped this pic when out shopping pre-xmas...it's taken me this long to get over the crush of last minute xmas shopping to share it with you!
Not only did this window make me laugh out loud, it was also ample proof that a good window display doesn't need to cost a fortune. It's amazing what some yellow paint, some rubber chickens and a clever marketing idea will get you....
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
I subscribe to SourceBottle, which is a fab little service that features shout outs from journo's to the marketing/pr community. They pay for this service (I'm guessing) through the ads at the top, which are often quite clever. Today's was no different....
The copy read:
Does your website measure up?
Seems nothing will stem the tide of consumers jumping online to make a purchase. And this is true across the globe! Which is why it's so vital your business is making the most of its presence on the net. Are you using it effectively? Or are you missing out on valuable sales?
The online specialists at FrontBox are giving you a chance to change all that. For TODAY ONLY, they're offering their popular Online Conversion Analysis for only $97 (normally $197)! They'll identify areas where the Internet could be working much harder for you, with detailed suggestions on how to make this happen. (No wonder it's so popular.) In fact, FrontBox guarantee to improve the effectiveness of your web presence or they'll give you your money back.
I clicked, as I wanted to learn more. And landed on the page pictured to your right.
Notice the first line? "You read the ad, and you clicked on the link."
This is a simple way to tell me that they KNOW what offer I've clicked on. And to re-assure me that I'm in the right place.
So many online ads you click on just dump you on a home page (or a facebook page, etc) with no link between the offer and the landing area.
Online is still EXCELLENT value as a marketing tool - as close to zero budget as most tactics will ever get - but if you do it BADLY it's a waste of money.
This campaign show the value of good copywriting, a good offer...and thinking it through the whole way. Congrats to the marketer/business owner that came up with it.