September 29, 2009

8 Ways to Market Without Money

Today I will touch on eight ways that a business of any size can market itself, without a huge financial outlay. We use many of these methods at 1300 Web Pro, and also assist customers in implementing some of them.

  1. Sponsor community groups and events
  2. Hold an open house
  3. Promotional items
  4. Improve your signage
  5. Share your database
  6. Networking groups
  7. Direct mail
  8. Add value to help the customer win


SPONSOR COMMUNITY GROUPS AND EVENTS

Not-for-profit organisations are the lifeblood of our communities. They provide schools for our children, organised sport, and look after the sick. These organisations all benefit from local businesses that are prepared to reach out and assist them.

On the flip side, community sponsorship is an excellent way to market one’s business. “Actions speak louder than words,” as they say.

Have a think about your social life – the sports you play, the groups your children are in, and think about how you might be able to sponsor the group.

In many cases, cash sponsorship is not the only option. Sponsorship in the form of contra (the goods or services one produces) can be used by a community group, if not directly perhaps as a raffle prize or something similar. Of course one can also donate time.

When presenting an offer of sponsorship, always be sure to ask for specific recognition in return, for example a listing on the groups website or permission to put up a banner at their next meeting or event (see signage, below).


HOLD AN OPEN HOUSE

Having an open house for clients, friends, and prospects is always excellent value for a business. People always appreciate being invited to an event with free beer!

The style and extravagance of an event aren’t really that important. If you are a home business, consider hosting a golf day or using a function room. In July, for example, 1300 Web Pro had a pancake breakfast in the parking lot at our offices to celebrate one year of serving Toowoomba, which was something a little different and a lot of fun. We combined it with community sponsorship by inviting Endeavour to join us in putting on the event.

Remember to invite your best customers and introduce them to prospects you are trying to get over the line. There is nothing live a “live” testimonial.


PROMOTIONAL ITEMS

Anyone who has visited our office will no doubt have walked away with a 1300 Web Pro bag full of goodies. We have giant pens, rulers, stubby coolers, and even little plastic containers with Redskins and Fantails that we made up and stuck our logo on.

These items are not terribly expensive, and one batch tends to last a fairly long time.

A customer of ours, Berlex Promotional in Toowoomba, has a great website filled with promotional item ideas.


IMPROVE YOUR SIGNAGE

This one is easy – take a look at a building’s exterior, any areas inside a building that customers visit, and company vehicles, and there will be a way to improve signage.

Remember, the design and content of a sign is as important (if not more) as the size.

In addition to increasing brand recognition around down, having a lot of great signage increases the professional appearance of the business. Consumers that see a business that is proud of its brand will have more trust in the business.


SHARE YOUR DATABASE

Whilst your customer’s privacy must always be a number one concern, consider how other businesses might benefit from marketing to your customers.

The best way to ensure a successful outcome when sharing your database is to:

  1. Ensure the customer is getting some sort of exclusive offer that they would not normally be entitled to. This way the customer is getting something of value rather than just being spammed with marketing material.
  2. Send out marketing pieces on behalf of the partner company, rather than simply supplying the partner company with a list. By sending out the marketing piece, the piece can be vetted. A customer will be more likely to listen to a company that they are already purchasing from, so it benefits the partner company also.

I have been speaking mostly about “sharing your database” with others. The marketing benefit to you is either because your customer gets something of value and appreciates it, or because you have access to the partner’s database in exchange (or both).


NETWORKING GROUPS

There are many networking groups out there. For example, three of the ones we attend are Women on the Move, BNI Toowoomba and the USQ Corporate Club.

Networking groups all vary in size, cost, commitment, and format. The best thing to do is try as many different groups as possible and find what works for you.

For example, some might find BNI to be too high a commitment and too formal, while others might find the task of introducing themselves to strangers at a Toowoomba Chamber of Commerce function daunting.


DIRECT MAIL

As our e-mail inboxes become more cluttered, direct (postal) mail campaigns are still very worthwhile. At 1300 Web Pro, we use direct mail to contact prospects and to keep in touch with existing clients.

Needless to say, the most important thing in a direct mail campaign is the mail piece itself. Be sure to spend plenty of time on the letter, postcard, or whatever it may be. Keep it brief, and be sure to run spell check!

Personally I avoid window envelopes and always put a “real” stamp (as opposed to franking or using a postage paid envelope) to make the piece more personal, and always use mail merge to produce personalised letters.

Direct mail can perform very well for a business marketing to its existing client base. We recently helped a solicitor with a direct mail campaign to clients that had wills more than five years old. The mail piece basically said, “remember to see us if your circumstances have changed.” They had an excellent result.

We use Send Out Cards a great deal, which is a web based direct mail program that allows you to send customised postcards and greeting cards, even one at a time.


ADD VALUE TO HELP THE CUSTOMER WIN

Simply put, by seeing how your product or service is commonly used you will know some hints, tips, and best practices. Share these with your customers! Help your customers get the most from their purchase.

Coca Cola have been doing this for years. Coke commonly provides a big red refrigerator to shops and takeaways so those businesses can keep the product chilled and well positioned.

On a smaller scale, at 1300 Web Pro, we often assist customers with ideas for website content, and ways to promote their websites. Both of these things increase traffic to our customers’ sites, therefore increasing our customers’ sales, and therefore making 1300 Web Pro look pretty good in our customers’ eyes.


WRAP UP

Hopefully you came across a few ideas in here to implement in your business. I purposely excluded Internet based ideas, for a bit of variety. Of course, websites and e-mail marketing are two other items that could well have appeared on this list.

Please continue to contribute topics and provide feedback on these blog articles. You can now publically comment on The 1300 Web Pro blog website.

Have a great week!

James Deck
1300 Web Pro
Web: www.1300webpro.com.au
Twitter: @1300WebPro

2 comments:

  1. James,

    I like your 8 ways to market without money. Here is another one to consider

    - Pay a promoter nothing except 100% commission on every sale.

    (Based on the lifetime value of a customer it maybe worthwhile paying a promoter/advertiser/salesperson 100% of the value of any of your products they sell providing they pass on the customers' details so you so you can remarket to them directly.)


    Mark Jocumsen – www.bbocoaching.com.au

    ReplyDelete
  2. Interesting comments,

    Being a sign shop myself, your advice about signage got my attention.

    One thing worth considering when producing signs is this; don't try and sell everything on the one sign. Typically, if the prospective client can't 'make out what you do in about 3 seconds' they will ignore the sign and move on to the next one. This rule is especially critical if you are driving or want drivers to see it.

    The second point is; sell your services based on your margins you get. The most profitable should be important. No good wasting advertising space on products that make little or no margin, unless it is a dollar store that will be relying on huge qtys, or you have the market cornered on the product you are promoting.

    Sorry for the long post :)

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