Marketing for free

15th November, 2012

Over the past few weeks we have had a flurry of requests for meetings to discuss potential marketing or PR campaigns for a number of different companies. I like to think that this is a positive sign and that things are starting to improve, although it is clear from some of our discussions that many of these companies have very little spare cash to spend on marketing, but they really do need to get out there and do something – as I am always saying, no-one is going to come and knock on your door if they don’t actually know that you are there!

Now, I am not going to give away all of our trade secrets, but you really don’t have to spend a lot of money to see some results – after all, the most expensive marketing tools may not be tools that you, yourself, would use anyway (for example, even if I had a spare million or two, I would not be carrying out a TV or outdoor media campaign for JWA as this would not be the way for my company to target its potential clients!).

So what can you do that will cost very little, or even nothing at all?

First, look at the customers or clients that you have already and think whether you can find a way to get a bit more from them; are you selling them all the products or services that they need? Getting new business from existing clients is a lot easier than finding new clients themselves.

Concentrate on the ‘walking billboard’ exercise that I am always banging on about; everyone in your team will have friends, husbands/wives, family, contacts, and it may be that they have never thought to try and sell your products or services to any of them. Give them some guidance and motivation; but remember that they can also put people off (!) so get the training in first! And never forget that people can sometimes see you, even if you can’t see them….

Communicate!! Am I the only person in this town that is getting fed up with people not responding to emails or answering phones?? We have a rule in our office that every email must be answered that day – even if it is just to say ‘sorry, busy, get back to you’! Jobs can be lost by not meeting deadlines, not answering emails, not calling back! Jobs can be won by being the quickest and most charming person to respond to a request.

Get out there! Give members of your team a target of attending x events a month and bringing back y number of business cards that they then follow up the next day. Include ‘networking’ in your marketing plan and make sure that you stick to it.

Direct mailing is not as bad as you might think, but my preference is to prepare a well-written letter/newsletter/postcard/whatever and then post it, rather than carrying out such a campaign on email. We all get far too many emails and if they are unsolicited they can get ignored – it is much more difficult to ignore a nice letter or newsletter, especially if it includes some well designed material, that arrives on your desk. And even if you don’t need what it is selling now, you might just revert to it at a later date.

Advertising – don’t fall over. Advertising is not always as expensive as you might think, and magazines, in particular, are having a difficult time right now. So they will do deals. As will on-line media. And remember the ‘little and often’ that I have mentioned before – a few banners on an on-line media outlet can be very effective and fairly low cost – much MORE effective than one big advert that runs for just one week.

PR – ah. PR. How many times do I hear that a company ‘wants to do some PR because it doesn’t cost anything’. Hmm. That is for next time.