Low Cost Marketing Ideas – Part 1
It’s cheap. It’s fast. And despite what the SPAMmers are doing, it remains an effective way to share information, develop relationships, generate inquiries and close deals. The trick is to find meaningful, relevant information you can share, and then make people WANT to receive your information. The best content for e-mail includes: case studies, statistics, specific “how to” information, and special offers not available elsewhere.
Best uses: Relationship building communications, education, last minute special offers, one-to-one follow-up, candidate marketing, testing offers and pricing options, and market research.
Can you really sell a professional service with a postcard? You bet! Postcards are the least expensive form of direct mail. These tiny billboards make great attention grabbers and offer an effective way to keep your company top-of-mind. Postcards also make a great way to drive people to your web site to learn more about your services. With postcards, less is more. Keep the copy short, stick with specific, easy to understand offers, and focus on no more than one key point per card.
Best uses: Capturing the attention of new prospects, promoting specific offers, creating differentiation by reinforcing your positioning message, and as part of a multi-step marketing effort.
3. Personal letters
When it comes to breaking through the clutter, simple is often best. Good old-fashioned personal letters (the kind where you’re really writing to a specific individual), can be an incredible powerful and effective tool for getting doors opened and bringing dead leads back to life. The trick with personal letters is to make them actually personal and to keep them sincere and to the point. Forget the marketing hype, and write to people like you’d speak to a friend whom you respect greatly.
Best uses: Warming cold calls with specific prospects, thank you’s, follow-ups to sales calls, reaching higher level decision makers (particularly in smaller companies), nurturing relationships, leveraging referrals (i.e., as a first communication with someone to whom you have been referred), and re-opening communication with former clients and cold leads.
Everyone knows word-of-mouth marketing is most effective, but how can you get more of it? Just ask! Ask your customers during sales follow-ups, in customer satisfaction surveys, and with comment cards to refer their friends and associates. Also, ask your employees and ask your vendors. Mostly, teach your sales and service personnel to get in the habit of asking!
Best uses: Developing new prospects, growing relationships within existing accounts.
5. Affiliate networks
If you have a large number of people or organizations who might be able to send you referrals, consider setting-up a formal affiliate or referral network. An affiliate network is a formal referral incentive program in which you share a percentage of your sales (which can range from 5 to 40%) with anyone who refers business. Your affiliates can help you market by including links to your web site on their web sites, incorporating information about your services in their marketing, agreeing to distribute your marketing materials (this works particularly well if you can offer them educational information to share), or in some cases, directly selling your services.
Best uses: Increasing referrals.
You need a web site. Your web development company needs HR assistance. Why not trade services? Barter has long been used by businesses that are long on needs and short on cash. In some cities, barter networks have been created that allow suppliers to trade their services for credits with other vendors. While this won’t pump up cash flow, it can be an effective way to use excess capacity to get those “projects you never get to” done. It can also be an effective way to lower your expenses if you can barter for the goods and services you’d normally purchase.
Best uses: Selling excess capacity, lowering business costs.
7. Give away information
Are there things you know how to do that your clients and prospects don’t? Is there information you have that others would value? If so, you have a great opportunity to position yourself as an expert and generate new prospects by giving away your expertise. Consider publishing an e-mail newsletter, writing a column for a local newspaper, and submitting regular articles for trade magazines or your local chamber of commerce newsletter. Turn your expertise into your competitive advantage!
Best uses: Developing credibility, positioning yourself as an expert, building trust, nurturing relationships, creating reasons to make follow-up calls, keeping yourself top-of-mind.
8. Partner with others who need to reach the same customers
Who else is trying to reach the same target market that you are? Would partnering with them increase your probability of success? Partnering can be an effective way to reach more prospects and open doors with people you ordinarily could not get to see. But, it can also dilute your sales message. This technique works best when you partner with organizations that offer complimentary services. For example, a marketing firm could partner with a sales trainer for a more comprehensive solutions package. A staffing firm could partner with an HR consulting firm, an outplacement firm, or a training firm to offer a wider variety of solutions.
Best uses: Lead generation, selling larger clients who want to deal with fewer vendors, creating outsourced solutions for smaller firms, increasing referrals.
9. “Would you like fries with that?”
McDonald’s knows it. So does the local super market…and the car wash. What do they know? Incremental and impulse sales equal big profits! Unfortunately, most businesses do a lousy job of upselling. The trick is to make upselling a part of the sales process that happens right after the close, at the time the client is most excited. Another trick is to have a large variety of impulse items available for purchase. For example, you might offer (for fee) background testing, drug screening, psychological assessment, benchmarking audits, branded VMS sites or other add-ons that can enhance the value you’re providing and allow you to better tailor your service package for each client.
Best uses: Differentiation, increasing per client sales and profits.
10. Greeting cards
We all like to be personally recognized, and greeting cards are a great way to make people feel special. They are one of the least expensive ways to make a positive emotional connection. Greeting cards can be used for just about any occasion, including birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and special events. Want to really stand out from the crowd? Be creative. Send cards for fun reasons, to celebrate obscure holidays, or better yet, invent your own occasions for sending greeting cards.
Best uses: Capturing attention, differentiation, nurturing relationships, building goodwill, creating a reason to make a follow-up call, demonstrating your creativity and sense of humor.