Friday, August 15, 2014

Marketing on a Budget

A successful marketing plan doesn't have to include an athletic superstar, prime-time placement, state-of-the-art computer graphics or a massive budget. Being resourceful and smart can be just as effective.

Business promotion doesn't have to cost a fortune. Often, it's the personal touch that seals the deal. Here are ideas gathered from marketing experts to help you make the most of a slim marketing budget:

Use Press Release Power
You might not realize it, but reporters sometimes need you as much as you need them. The key to getting their attention is coming up with a newsworthy item that is concisely written.
* Peg your release to real events, such as fundraising drives or a new service your business offers. Don't be witty to amuse yourself the idea must have a concrete purpose.
* If you can't figure out why your company might be newsworthy, ask your friends what they find interesting about your company.
* You can also utilize your built-in research tool your customers. If you have an offbeat idea, bounce it off them or have them fill out a short questionnaire. Ask them why they use your business.

Think Differently
Concoct an event to draw media coverage. For instance, a Japanese restaurant could create the world's largest sushi roll and advertise its record-breaking "sushi queue."

Put A Face On It
Placing your photograph on your business card creates a personal relationship, even if they don't know you. Not only will people remember your name, they'll remember your face.

Print The Praise
If someone says, "You do a great job," say, "Thanks, very much, that means an awful lot to me. I would appreciate it if you would write a testimonial letter." Then make the testimonial part of your promotional package.

Borrow A Message
When you see an article on a subject that might interest your clients, send them a photocopy with a note that says, "I thought you might be interested in this." You're making a personal connection with a client and associating yourself with the authority quoted in the article in the process.

Think Outside The Box
You don't have to outspend your competition, you just have to out think them. Some examples: Buy a billboard ad every other month for a year. Chances are, the billboard won't be replaced on the off months, so you'll get more exposure at no extra cost.
This concept also relates to how you run your business: Always try to figure out how to give your customers something they can't find elsewhere, such as a children's play area at a restaurant.

Try The Old Faithfuls
Don't dismiss time-honored solutions that increase your company's community profile, such as sponsoring a charity event or outfitting a local little league team. You'll get your name out there, and that's what counts.

Copyright 2003 Ann Marie Rubertone

Ann Marie Rubertone is a marketing consultant & freelance writer. Her two newest booklets, “The One Page Marketing Plan” and "13 Household Items You Can Use To Market Your Business" tips for marketing on a shoestring budget that can make the difference between success and failure.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Marking Your Territory

We all know the familiar adage "if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck..." it's nearly always a duck. The same is true with image, particularly when it comes to the images we portray of ourselves as writers.

My e-book "Articles That Sell", teaches the how-to's of effectively marketing your business by writing and publishing articles. These ideas will help you literally take your marketing act to the street by presenting yourself as a professional writer.

A professional writer? Of course...the last image that you want to convey is that you're an amateur. If you want to brand yourself and your business professionally, then you've got to conduct all your marketing efforts with the perspective of a skilled and accomplished pro.

First, you'll need to erase any stereotypical images of writers. They aren't all philosophical types in glasses and black turtlenecks. Writers are real people, just like you. They come from all walks of life and have their own mortgages to pay. Very few writers are able to boast successful careers based only upon the words they have authored. In fact, most of the prominent writers we read today all have certain elements in common.

What are the marks of a professional Writer?

Business Cards - Does yours make any mention of the fact that you're a writer? If it doesn't, then you're sending an alarming signal that you write as a hobby.

Resume - Does yours note the names and dates of the publications that have featured your work? No listed works, no credibility.

Portfolio - Do you have a beyond-your-hard-drive collection of the articles you have written? All writers should have a hands-on CD or floppy portfolio. If possible, you should also have a physical portfolio containing your work, particularly any work that has been published in print.

Current Contact List or Database - Can you put your hands on a complete list of contact information? We're not talking sticky-notes here. This should include the names, addresses, e-mail addresses, telephone numbers, and web site addresses of any publications to which you have submitted an article. Ideally, you should also include the contact information for any new publications about which you learn. Make certain to include the name of the article you have submitted and whether it was published. If you sold an article, list the price for which you sold it. Review your information regularly and follow-up with each publication periodically.

Letterhead and Envelopes - Think it's too expensive? If it's a business expense then it's tax deductible. While it's true that editors are primarily interested in the content of your work, unprofessional correspondence sends up a red flag that you're trying to break-in to writing. You probably have a software program on your computer that you can use to create an impressive letterhead for yourself. Visit your local office supply store to find a quality paper to print it.

Editor - Now, we're talking some real money, aren't we? As I've said before in a previous ATSU Newsletter, there are affordable editors out there. You can even find one at a local college who might be willing to work for a nominal fee. If using a "for-pay" editor isn't an option, you should at least have all your work proofed for grammar, spelling, and flow of content by someone who is qualified and is objective. It's important that you be open-minded to constructive criticism.

Library Card - Who has time to read? The best way to learn to better express our own thoughts and further develop our writing is through reading the thoughts of others. Ask anyone whom you consider to be a professional writer. That person will always tell you that they have either always been or have become an avid reader. In the area of reading, venture out and read beyond your normal scope of preferences. You'll be amazed at how expanding your horizons can truly fine-tune your own writing skills.

Success in marketing with articles is a reciprocating enterprise. The more you write and publish articles to market your business, the more exposure you will gain as an author. Presenting yourself as an across-the-board professional in your area of writing will propel your success even further. Maximize the mileage you can earn through your writing!