Tuesday, November 03, 2009
5 Ways to Stretch Your Marketing Budget and Where You Should Spend
With many marketing budgets shrinking, and the pressure to keep your brand front and center amidst the competition, choosing the right tools and resources to get your message out to audiences is more important then ever. While many agree that traditional marketing alone doesn't cut it, social media on its own cannot take up all the slack either. So, finding the right marketing recipe is key. Here are some low or no cost ideas:
*Create white papers, reports, tips sheets, and short e-books that your website or blog visitors can easily download. You may be able to repurpose or expand on a previous blog post, presentation, or article you have written. Then, make sure you have a system such as a unique URL or landing page, to capture names, so that you are creating lists of new perspective prospects and clients. Use Twitter, your blog, or other social media to promote new products.
*Survey your customers and new subscribers about what information and products relevant to your business they would like to receive, and how they want to receive it. There are many free survey programs you can experiment with, such as Survey Monkey. If you use Constant Contact for your e-news software, it includes an excellent built in survey feature for just a small additional cost.
*Take advantage of speaking opportunities. Public speaking is a great way to get your brand and message across. Find out if any local groups in your area are in need of speakers, and let them know you are interested. It's a good idea to prepare a talk along with some great powerpoint slides ahead of time, so you'll have them ready to go. Make sure your visuals are easy to follow, organized, and interesting. I attended a talk recently where there was one slide on the screen the entire time! Practice in front of a few colleagues or trusted friends, and try to anticipate any questions or challenges you may encounter. You can also prepare a "speaker sheet," or "one sheet," that includes your photo, topics you'd like to present on, and who your appropriate audience might be.
*Write articles and submit them for publication on sites such as ezine. This can really boost your SEO, as well as further establish your expertise in a given field. To save time, choose a few blog posts you're really proud of and turn them into articles or update them as needed.
*Use social media to enhance your online presence, but have a strategy. Many complain about how long social media takes, but if you have an organized strategy, you get the most out of your time and effort. Don't try and be a social media mastermind and exhaust yourself creating blogs, podcasts, e books, and videos all day long, or you'll be spreading yourself too thin. Find a few tools you really enjoy, and focus on them. For example, if you really love writing, focus on blogging, e-books, and articles. If you're a video lover, focus on creating great videos as well as a meaty YouTube channel. You can also explore other video upload sites, such as Vimeo and Tube Mogul.
Where You Should Spend Money
Marketers may not realize that even with a specific strategy and gameplace, social media does not run on automatic. You need a real person on the other end, sending and responding to tweets, posting article links and video, and interacting with others in the network. If you don't have time to do it right, you should spend the money to hire an expert, and it will be money well spent. Make sure it's someone with a good track record of social media engagement, who can also recommend the right tools for you.
What are your suggestions for free or low cost marketing?