Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Mulberry Street Marketing Tip - Marketing on a Net-Zero Budget

Ruth Danielson, Owner
Mulberry Street Intel
This is it, folks: The Chart-Topper on my Most Frequently Asked Questions list by small business owners. Well, you’ll be pleased to know that I’ve got all kinds of tricks up my sleeve on this. I’m going to share five with tips with you, followed by one big, fat, juicy piece of unsolicited advice.

This is a long post, because I’m giving a lot away here. If you want it, it’s right here on the page, FREE for the taking. Enjoy, entrepreneurs, Womentorz and other business adventurers!

Marketing Net-Zero Tip #1: BE VISIBLE
Come out from behind that computer screen and be seen! Don’t try to do all your promotion from your desk. Get out into the community and interact with real people.
  • Be a strategic networker.
  • Choose networking opportunities that will give you access to:
    • Potential customers
    • Other business owners who have contacts with your direct audience
    • Opportunities for bartering, co-promotion, co-marketing, or co-speaking with other businesses that will help propel your mutual success
    • Avoid mixers where everyone in the room is in your exact line of business. (You’re not likely to sell a lot of ice cream to the other ice cream men on your block.)
  • Parlay your expertise into speaking opportunities, teaching a workshop or class, participating in or leading a small or specialized business group. (Keep an eye out for opportunities to get paid for these types of activities).
  • Hang out where you are likely to interact with your most desired audience targets. What do you know about your the likes and habits of your audiences? This will give you some clues as to where to network where there’s a hope of interacting with potential customers, members of the press, or other businesses you want to network with.  Examples might include: participating in workshops, joining (or starting) a book club, attending free community events that your customers are likely to attend also, serving on a committee or board, attending craft fairs or art openings, or participating in community sporting events and fundraisers. Check your local entertainment guide for ideas!
Marketing Net-Zero Tip #2: TOOT YOUR OWN HORN
Some people are natural self-promoters and have no problem talking up their successes at every opportunity. For most of us, this is a real challenge!

Self-Promotion Tip: Know what your successes are. Define what constitutes a “success” and pay attention to when it happens. The best way to do this is to set daily, weekly and monthly goals for sales, positive customer feedback, increases in quality social media contacts and followers, securing local opportunities to speak about your business. Keep a running log of these successes. How many Facebook followers did you start with in January? How many did you want to have by April? Did you make at least some progress toward your goal? Even if you fell short of the exact goal, setting goals and keeping track of your progress will not only help you track your success, but it will allow you to shift your activities – and maybe your expectations – in productive ways.

Self-Promotion Tip: No sucess is too small to talk up.
Did you meet one or more of the goals that you set? Talk up your incremental wins on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, your blog, in your interactions with new or existing customers, with business contacts, partners and associates. Wins are very persuasive! Don’t be afraid that any single success is too small to talk about. Watch them stack up and see how that persuasive language translates into more followers, greater awareness, better opportunities, and more sales over time!

Self-Promotion Tip: Don’t let your WINS become one-hit wonders. ThinkGreen”:  Repurpose, reuse, recycle.
WIN = Product Review: Did you win a product review that you pitched yourself for? Crow about it! Make sure to get links to the coverage, whether it’s a link to a podcast, video, a PDF or direct link to an article online. Find out what the media outlet’s policy is on permission to post the coverage and abide by that policy.
Get your extra mileage from your coverage by posting an image of the magazine cover for the issue you appeared in, or the media outlet’s logo on your web site, in your press materials, on your Facebook page, and everywhere that you can.

The value of editorial coverage is that it is both informative and persuasive for your audience: it increases awareness and can be perceived as a recommendation of your product or service. Don’t limit how much of an impact the coverage gets you; talk it up in as many places as you can for a full year after the coverage (and sometimes longer than that).

WIN = Favorable Customer Testimonials:
If you receive great feedback from one or more of your customers, think green again. If the comments were made on your Facebook Page or in a Tweet, they should also make their way onto your other social media profiles, your web site, as your daily quote in y your email signature, into a news release, at the bottom of a product flyer, and elsewhere. You get the idea!

Marketing Net-Zero Tip #3: DON’T REINVENT THE WHEEL
Sometimes, thinking outside the box is over-rated. Instead, learn from the experts.
Model the behaviors of your competitors that you admire the most! Follow them on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Buy their business books; sit in on their (free) webinars). What are they working on and how are they promoting themselves? You may not have a marketing budget for some of the big deals that they negotiate, or for the slick marketing collateral and whiz-bang graphics and video media that they’re pumping out, but they are probably doing a lot of things that don’t cost them a dime – like being good self-promoters. Model the successful behavior that you observe in others – just remember to be true to your own brand, personality and style when you do it.


Join Womentorz or other Group Marketing Networks – If you’re a woman inventor or entrepreneur and you’re already a Womentorz member, you already know a lot about this. If you’re a woman entrepreneur with an innovative service, business book, software application, or other genius idea, check out the Services channel at Womentorz. If you’re outside this network entirely, look into other group marketing opportunities – or create some! Contact Mulberry Street or Womentorz if you’d like to discuss this in more detail. We’d love the chance to network with you and hear your ideas!

Wear Out Your Library Card – Check out top-selling business books from your local library instead of buying them. Purchase only the ones that you want to refer to over and over. Chances are, taking a few notes on the things that really grab you will suffice.

Find a MentorIf there is someone in your network who has business experience that you covet, ask them if they would be your mentor. Set limits on how much time you will request from them in any given month (don’t wear out your welcome) and think of ways (or ask them) how you can benefit them as well.

Get a SCORE Counselor: If you’ve managed to launch your business without learning about SCORE and using their services, you probably worked a lot harder than you needed to. If you did find SCORE and use their services, you probably feel like you couldn’t have launched without them. SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) is a nonprofit organization that educates entrepreneurs to start, grow and succeed nationwide. SCORE currently has 13,000mentors, 364 chapters and more than 500 skills to help you grow your business. What are you waiting for?

Marketing Net-Zero Tip #5: (From the Department of the Glaringly Obvious) USE SOCIAL MEDIA

This is perhaps the most obvious and first choice in the current marketing environment. Everyone’s doing it: some are doing it exceedingly well, with stellar results! For specific tips on finding and marketing to your audience using social media, see my article, What’s the Best Social Medium for Finding New Customers?”

And finally, here is my unsolicited advice:
Don’t set net-zero as your marketing budget goal.
Make yourself and your fledgling business a priority. Invest in yourself!
How, you ask?
Open a bank account dedicated to saving money for marketing and make it an absolute priority.
Where to get the funds?
  1. Can you eat out less/make more meals at home?
  2. Can you buy fewer lattes and enjoy some home brew?
  3. Can you skip frivolous purchases?
  4. If you have a regular saving plan, dedicate a portion of this to invest in marketing your business.
  5. Set aside 5 – 10% of sales and put it in your savings account for marketing.
Most importantly, understand that in order to have a sustainable business, you have to create a sustainable marketing budget. When you set up the fund, know what you plan to use the budget for. Talk to your SCORE counselor, mentor, or give Mulberry Street a call to discuss where is the best place to invest your marketing dollars for the greatest return, once you’ve reached your first savings goal.
Happy Marketing Tip Monday and as always, cheers from Womentorz and Mulberry Street!

Shoutout to Rita, aka “YippyMomma“, blogger, baby product reviewer, photographer (and so much more…) who posted today’s question on the Womentorz wall on Facebook. (@YippyMomma)

Join the discussion! What’s the best marketing investment you ever made? What was the worst? 
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