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TheCommich says – enjoy!

The mini-campaign: 3 simple, cheap and easy ways to get you out there

So you have the website, the Twitter handle, the FB fan page and all of that. Maybe you even have time to update your blog and cold call potential clients on top of all the work you’re currently doing. Is that all there is to this marketing thing?

If you’re phone is actually ringing off the hook (total anachronism… maybe “vibrating out of your purse” is more accurate), then maybe that IS all you need to do to reach your clients. Somehow though thecommich doubts it. There are 3 things good marketing should do for you: Expose you to potential clients, grow a loyal client base, and give you input on how your product or service is doing in the “real world.” A website and blog are definitely essentials, but to get your momentum going, nothing beats a good marketing campaign.

Worry not, purse string holders. Thecommich understands that you don’t have a bottomless bank account – if you did, you’d be a Wall Street banker and not have the time or inclination to read blogs by scrappy marketing people who don’t like what you did to the economy. Thus I have created the “mini” campaign – mini both in spending price, scope, and complicated maneuvers. Of course, I didn’t say it wasn’t time intensive – but in my experience a small business owner has a lot more time than money (If you have the money though, use some of it to pay a pro to do it right and take work off your shoulders).

Here it is – simple, yet satisfying.

1) Survey Says…

A lot of clients come to me and say “I don’t understand why my anticipated results aren’t happening” in their current way of doing business. A lot of the guesswork can be eliminated just by doing a survey.

You can do a free, basic 10-question survey on SurveyMonkey (which will even collate and sort the results for you). More than 10 questions and you start paying a fee.  If you want something longer but still free, you can create a PDF file to post online – but be warned that sorting and weighing the results is a tedious business.

What should you ask? Anything that will better inform your business. Demographic information is a must, as is email  capture. If you have a product, ask for ratings but also qualitative questions like “what do you like best or least” about your offerings. And always ask for suggestions – people love giving away their 2 cents. Obviously you don’t have to follow any of it, but it will give you ideas for future growth.

Getting people to answer a survey – especially a long one – is a tricky thing. The solution: incentivize. The no-brainer would be to offer your product or service free (not necessarily to all the respondents; you can do “the first 5 people” or even a “lucky winner” that sends in their survey). However, with a little extra cash, you can not only get your survey answered, you can get it answered by the right people. Buy tickets to an event that your ideal target market would love to go to (a Hannah Montana concert for tweens; a yoga-thon for health nuts etc). Then use that as a “giveaway” that people can win if they submit a survey. Make sure that event is far enough away that you get enough respondents to send in good surveys?

2) Cross Promote

Back scratchers of the world, unite! Cross promoting is a great way to get extra help, extend your network and find new clients in complementary markets. The marketing geniuses at Ploom know how to work it: their product is a vaporizer that allows flavored tobacco to be “smoked” indoors; kind of like a pocket-sized hookah. How does a brand sell a super-novel tobacco item to people that may be leery of “big tobacco”? By being present at fun, hip events and places where fun, hip people go. Ploom puts “tasting stations” at fashion shows, art exhibits, and fashionable bars and clubs, allowing people to sample and react to their product. The clubs and events love that they have a novel product to add to their clients’ experience that night, and Ploom gets automatic credibility by being in the hands of trendsetters. Everyone’s happy!

Similarly, Footsie SF – thecommich’s all-female boudoir party business – teamed up with My Boudoir lingerie boutique to host the  launch of our company. Not only did we book 3 parties that night from My Boudoir’s wonderful customers, My Boudoir also got great new contacts and clients from the people we brought to the event.

The secret to cross promoting is to make sure everyone wins. Make sure the company you team up with has clients that YOU want, but also ensure that you are doing everything you can do help them meet their needs. Otherwise, your cross promoter may feel used bad feelings can build up – and you never know what an angry or disgruntled “partner” might do.

3) The Resident Genius

Have a service to sell?  First, you’ll probably need to establish yourself as an expert at what it is you do. A great way to set yourself up as “someone who knows what they’re doing” is to have a crowd around you with questions you’re ready to answer.

I received an email from a friend who works at Edward Jones Financial, inviting me to a “coffee meeting” down the street from their building. The purpose of the meeting, she said, was primarily to network – right after a short talk on personal finance delivered by an Edward Jones employee, and a short Q and A portion. I thought it was brilliant – first, turning the vision of old and stuffy “institution” like Edward Jones into a small, cozy, coffee-drinking kind of company; second, establishing their financial advisers’ expertise and third, essentially giving a “free consultation” to a group of people as opposed to just one person at a time in their offices.

Blogs (like this one) are an online equivalent of this practice. Of course, I don’t get as many questions nor is it as fruitful and fun as meeting people in person – but I like to think (as most service providers do) that I truly am of use to people and have helped better some of their more flagrant marketing fouls.

One last note on this step in the mini-campaign: If you’re not camera shy, it never hurts to publicize. Showing your face makes a more intimate connection with your words and your followers; it literally shows your readers who you are. And that makes you memorable. And memorable people who own companies get calls.

If any of you out there are trying these steps – don’t forget to drop thecommich a line and tell us how it worked (or didn’t!)