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Cost Effective Marketing Tips

Small business owners and sole traders often have to be a jack of all trades, and one of those trades is marketing.  People associate marketing as a costly part of running a business but I am going to show you how to do it very inexpensively.
When I started my first speaker bureau I didn’t have a clue about sales, running a business and especially about marketing it. I am pleased to say many years on I managed to teach myself some inexpensive and savvy marketing ideas and I’d like to share them with you here. This article is aimed at helping sole traders, small business owners and sales people.
First things first, you must have a CRM system (Customer Relationship Management).  Throw away the excel spreadsheet and go to www.zoho.com – you can have three users free then $12.00 per month per user for an upgrade to the professional suite.   It will take a little bit of work getting to learn how to use the system. The best thing to do is go to the forums or help pages when you are not sure what to do.  Once you have your CRM you will be able to keep track of all your clients, prospects, proposals etc.  If you already have your contacts on an excel spreadsheet you can save as a .csv file and upload them into your new database.

TIP: Make sure you tag each contact i.e. “prospect” “referrer” “supplier” “client” “media” – no one is a client unless they have bought from you! Therefore do not convert a prospect to client until a financial transaction has taken place. This software also has other applications that you can link to your account, including accounting packages, HR tools etc.  It’s worth looking at.

Now that you have a database you need to keep up regular contact with your prospects and clients. It goes without saying you can’t just add anyone to your email campaigns, it is essential to get permission first.  Let’s presume you have a list of contacts that have opted into your email campaign and you are ready to keep in touch on a weekly or monthly basis. Personally, I have found monthly contact is best as I have very few unsubscribers this way.  My preferred method of contact is to use a cloud-based email system called www.aceofsales.com – it’s a fabulous way to personalise email and great for anyone who needs to keep in touch with their clients and prospects.  As well as email campaigns you can create very personalised templates for jazzy emails and also ezines. You can also use the system from your iPhone or Android for marketing on the go.
TIP: Spend some time checking out the tutorial videos on sales and marketing as well – they come with the subscriber fee of approx $19.00 per month.  The video tutorials are worth the subscriber fee just on their own.

Another marketing idea that you can use is to create your own online flip magazine for your business, a bit like SPARK that you are reading now.  Try looking at www.issuu.com  which you can try for free and good to start off with.  
I prefer to subscribe on a monthly basis so I don’t have all the advertising with it.  It’s easy to use all you do is produce a document using Word, Publisher or other tool, turn it into a PDF and upload it. It works like magic and turns into a flip magazine.  You might like to think about producing your own company online magazine full of great ideas to help your clients.

Here is a way to save on printing costs by using an online system which allows you to edit your own templates and send the new business card etc straight to the printer with the push of a button. You can have all your print collateral uploaded to templates online for easy DIY edits. I use www.44ink.com  and you will save a lot of money on graphic design costs. PLUS, if you don’t already have a brand there are hundreds of pre-designed templates you can use. 
Make your own videos by signing up for a pro account with www.animoto.com  – I love this software. Try it for free at first and if you like it and want to produce more professional videos without the Animoto branding  then subscribe on a monthly basis for approx $39.00 per month.
Social media is a must for keeping in touch with your network, clients and prospects. I am an advocate of using Linkedin for business. I am constantly updating my status by adding articles that I’ve written, articles by others, newspaper stories etc.   The more people you connect with on Linkedin the more people will know about you!  If you are a Facebook user, I strongly recommend a page for personal use and one for business.  Use the business page to give discounts, special offers and updates to your followers. 
TIP:  By creating a Twitter account, Facebook page and using Linkedin you will be able to grow a network if you strategically follow the right people and start interacting with them.  The golden rule with social media is that you must be 100% guarded of your personal and business brand because once something is online that is not professional, it is very hard to undo the damage! 
If there is one lesson you need to learn, it is how to leverage your time and outsource staff on a budget! Two of the best programs that I know of are www.elance.com and www.fiverr.com.
Debbie Carr

Posted on February 5, 2013

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