As published in The Singapore Marketer October-December 2009
In the year 2009 and into 2010, we have witnessed large layoffs across a variety of industries. Business continues to be slow with very few hints that things are turning around. For now, companies will continue to look for ways to conserve their working capital. Some marketing managers (if they have not already done so) will continue to strip the advertising and promotion budget. Those in a more dire situation may be forced to eliminate it altogether.
Yet at such a critical time as this, it is imperative that companies not do eradicate their advertising & promotion budget. Doing so may save money in the short term, but may end up doing them more harm than good. A total elimination of the budget could ultimately spell disaster for the business if its prospects, customers and clients think that you are no longer in business due to the absence of advertising and promotions that historically create the awareness of goods and services.
So where does that leave a company that is operating on a pared down marketing budget or even worse, no budget at all? Having a limited budget or no budget doesn’t mean the end of the world for a business. The goal is to find inexpensive ways to create awareness for your business. It means adopting and putting into practice some low cost, no cost advertising & promotional tactics. The greatest expense is more likely to be the time it takes to develop a strategy and the subsequent execution.
Spread the Word in Writing
Write an article that speaks about your industry, product or service. Articles allow you to obtain good visibility and reach a large audience for free. It also positions you as an expert. Submit your articles to newspapers, magazines, trade publications and online article directories. If allowed by the publication, include a resource box that informs the reader of who you are and where they can find you.
Write a regular column. If you are fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to write a column, you could gain exposure locally, regionally or even nationally. Having your name and photo seen regularly increases your exposure and builds credibility.
Start a newsletter. A newsletter is an excellent way to promote your business. Decide what the objective is for your newsletter and how you can add value for your prospects and customers. Newsletters build awareness, trust and confidence. They also promote goodwill. This can be easily distributed regularly online to your client database.
Send out a special report or white paper. A special report is a document or article that you write about your area of expertise. It is sent to out to your cliental to educate them on a particular subject. A special report should include useful and helpful information. It might include trivia, surveys, trends and other findings. Special reports can also be uploaded to your website and downloaded in exchange for an email address. Reports are a great way to build an email list.
Send a letter to the Editor. Rather than writing on a subject an editor may not have an interest in, gain exposure by responding to a recent article published in a newspaper or magazine. In one paragraph identify the article that you are writing about, then summarize the article and indicate what you agree or disagree with it. Summarize your main thought. Include your full name, address, title, work and home telephone number. People love a hero, especially when you are writing to support an underdog or to voice an injustice.
Give a talk. One of the best ways to promote your company is by giving a talk to members of your industry. Call up your local trade associations, business associations or university to discuss opportunities to share the latest industry news. Use the time afterwards to network and obtain new leads.
Conduct an executive development course. Many executives are making the most of this down time to upgrade their skills with short courses. Being part of an adult education program is an indirect way to promote your company’s business and obtain potential prospects. Your name, title and the company’s name is marketed to the community where you’ll gain awareness and credibility.
Organize or present at seminars. This is a great marketing tool because it allows you to position yourself in the marketplace and is a great way to increase awareness of your products and services. Presenting at a seminar positions you (and invariably your company) as an expert in the marketplace and provides your organization with name recognition.
Capitalize on your Business Cards
Business cards can be the most portable, affordable and versatile marketing method for companies. A company can make a positive first impression that lingers long after your initial meeting with a clean, creative, professionally printed and visually attractive card.
Give people a reason to keep your business card. Use the backside of the card to print something unique, list your services or print a calendar.
Include your business card with all of your correspondences, even when paying bills. When sending a thank you note or letter, or shipping products remember to include a business card. Your business card is like a ‘mini absent salesperson’ who speaks for the company when you can’t. Make sure your business card is printed on quality stock paper and are kept clean and presentable.
Craft a Personal Elevator Pitch
How often do you hear the phrase “so, just what is it that you do?” and what is your response? This is your opportunity to share your personal elevator pitch.
The elevator pitch is the most powerful and concise description of you, your company, and your products or service boiled down to 25 to 35 words. It is a distilled and refined sales statement that includes your name, who you are, what you do, why you’re the best, and your call to action. It encourages the listener to request, “Tell me more.”
Once you have crafted your personal elevator pitch, practice it in front of the mirror. Keep it natural. Rehearse it, but make sure it doesn’t come across as rehearsed.
Get Out of the Office. Start Talking
Networking can expand your business horizons. Networking is simply connecting with people of like interests for the purpose of uncovering opportunities, increasing knowledge or sharing information. Join the local Chamber of Commerce, trade organization or service organization.
Employer and employees should make a point to attend industry events, course previews and business networking sessions to increase your company’s exposure. Bring along plenty of business cards. Engage other people by asking them a question and then genuinely listen to them and give eye contact. Use this time to share your personal elevator pitch.
Send a follow up email or letter saying that it was great to meet you and follow up with information or brochures of your goods or services and the benefits or solutions you provide. Stay in touch with your new contacts via an occasional letter, email, phone call or newsletter.
Consult or mentor another individual or business free of charge. When you share your knowledge with another at no cost, you are helping another to succeed. As such, it’s an honorable way to promote yourself or your company. The more you share of yourself and your expertise with others, the more you become known in the community and your industry. To be known as a mentor, attend association and trade organization meetings and social gatherings.
Make the most of your Email messages
If you haven’t already done so, include a signature at the bottom of your email. Include your telephone, fax, number, and Skype address if you deal with international clients. Add your URL with a hyperlink to allow for an immediate click through to your website.
Include a banner advertisement below your signature. Use the banner to announce new product launches or to advertise a promotion. The banner should also include a hyperlink to your website.
If you have a company tag line or slogan, add the tag line or message after your signature. A strong slogan makes your business name 64% more memorable.
Using the Internet
Engage in low cost on line advertising. Sign up for a basic Adwords campaign. Take advantage of both the organic search ad placements as well as selecting specific URLs for your ads or banners to appear. Targeted placements may give you far greater exposure than the standard search format.
List your business with online classifieds. Many of these sites allow you to upload a logo and hyperlink to your website. The increased inbound links helps to raise your website status as well.
Using the Telephone
Tell people who you are. Far too many companies simply answer their phones without indicating the name of the company or the name of the person answering the call. Business lines should be answered with good morning, afternoon, or evening, followed by the company name. Another alternative is ‘thank you for calling (company name), how may I direct your call?’
Place a verbal advertisement on your personal voice mail. Your message should start with who you are and the request to leave a message followed by your ‘mini-advertisement’.
Make the most of your company’s on-hold message. Instead of music, use this as an opportunity to tell the caller about new products, services or any new promotions.
There are a multitude of low cost advertising and promotional activities that a business can implement. It’s a matter of identifying the financial resources available to you, determining your company marketing objectives and implementing a low cost, yet effective strategy for getting your message out to the consumer. Ask yourself, what one small thing could I do today that will have an impact on my business? With that in mind, get started…take action.