Cheap Marketing: The Penny Pinchin’ Guide to Success

Posted by | September 12, 2011 | Marketing, Social Media | No Comments

Started a little blog just to get some traffic
Old folks’ll tell you not to play in traffic
A million hits and the web crashes, damn!

Kanye West, Made in America

When it comes to being frugal at the expense of having a good time, I’m horrible. I’ve used Mint.com to manage my entertainment expenses and I’ve consistently slipped up. Something about my mantra of working hard and playing hard just doesn’t align with the idea of budgeting my fun. Yet, if you told me to stretch a marketing budget to achieve specific business goals – I’d be able to do it in my sleep.

After working with a wide mix of companies ranging from non-profits to those with multi-million dollar budgets, I’ve quickly gotten a grasp on how pinch pennies to find success in marketing. While it’s impossible to learn the art of penny pinching and marketing over night – Here is a guide to effective yet cost efficient ways to promote your brand to the general public without making yourself look cheap.

Create an Awesome Landing Page

Having a web presence is crucial in a world driven by the internet. Not all businesses have the budget or expertise to develop and design amazing websites but every business has the budget to develop a landing page. A well designed landing page will provide your business with a quick and effective way to generate leads and sales when running CPC campaigns.

Who can build you an awesome landing page?

Ideally, you’ll hire someone who can do the job well while also staying within your budget. If you’re looking for a cost-effective solution you may want to check out 99designs.com for designers or simply reaching out to someone who understands the digital space very well and has experience in search engine marketing.

Here are a few things to keep in mine when creating your landing page:

Another awesome solution for Landing Pages is unbounce.com. They’re described as a self-serve hosted service that provides marketers doing paid search, banner ads, email or social media marketing, the easiest way to create, publish & test promotion specific landing pages without the need for IT or developers. Sounds like the right fit to me!

Launch an Online Ad Campaign

Even though studies are showing print to be a less effective medium for advertising – Businesses are still coughing up big bucks for their print ads. Businesses trust print because for many, it’s all they know and it’s worked in the past or at least they believe it did. Thus, they ignore everything from search engine marketing to online display ads. As a result, they miss out on a great opportunity to generate new revenue simply by resisting an opportunity to move forward.

Now, I shouldn’t paint print and digital with one brush. You can develop a horrible print ad the same way you can create a horrible online ad. The key is knowing the strategy of the business and having a grasp on what best practices are when dealing with your target market. To answer either of these questions it starts with the businesses strategy and then from there the development of the actual ad. These ads can be put together for much cheaper than a print ad and be displayed in front millions for half (if not more) of the cost.

What are some keys to success in online ad development?

  1. Give them a Reason to Click: Discounts, deals, more information, limited edition, etc.. These are the kinds of things that will make someone click your ad. Converting someone to click an ad simply because they think you’re a cool brand is less likely.
  2. Don’t Make them Think: Too many times do designers and creative teams get so caught up in an idea that they out-think the customer. There’s a difference between being smart with your ad and being too smart with your ad. That difference is the difference between having a low click through rate and a great one.
  3. STRONG call to action: Consumers need to be told what to do. Whether you’re telling them to download now on a landing page or telling them to click here on an ad – A strong call-to-action is crucial to conversion.
  4. Simple Design: The colour scheme for an online ad will clearly depend on the creative but careful consideration does need to play a factor in the colour selection. The more complex you make your online ad, the less likely your ad will be clicked by users.
  5. Be Accurate: You need to drive people to pages that are related to the online ad they’ve selected. If I see an Ad about a Audi TT and click it – I should be sent to a page highlighting the features and benefits of an Audi TT. Too often do I come across Ads driving users to unrelevent information. Look at developing landing pages for each online ad that you create to ensure that the users are being met with relevance. (See Landing Pages above)

Create a Blog and Write Regularly

An easy way to get your company out there is by writing blog posts about topics that would interest your consumer base. Many businesses attribute more than 50% of their websites overall traffic to their ability to generate interest through their blog. I’m a believer that in todays digital world; every business can benefit from having a blog. It’s an easy way to not only develop your brand but also gives the business a way to manage their PR without placing it in the hands of the media. Back in 2009, Jeff Bullas put together an awesome post highlighting a few reasons why your business should blog. The next question that typically comes after this recommendation is:

What should my business blog about?

This is clearly going to be a case by case situation but the clear cut answer is this – Whatever your customers are interested in. An example of a business providing their customers exactly what they want in a blog is a company called OKCupid. They run an online dating site and have established themselves as leaders by constantly producing engaging, rich and unique blog posts about online dating They filled their posts with insights and visuals while painting a picture of questions that everyone had but never had the answers for with respect to online dating. Some of their most popular data-drive posts include How Your Race Affects The Messages You Get and The REAL ‘Stuff White People Like’. A few other examples of great content include:

MintLife Blog – Mint.com uses a blog that highlights the importance of saving money to create leads and further developer their brand.  Not only do they feature content that highlights their budgeting software they also write posts that are truly valuable to the consumers.

The Gilt MANual – Although this is a corporate blog it has quickly become one of my favourite blogs on the web. It’s a mix between Esquire, GQ Magazine and 1001 Rules for my Unborn son. This blog highlights specific interests that would be relevant to the Gilt consumer while providing awesome content as a manual to living the good life.

Coca-Cola Conversations - If you ever wanted some archival information on Coca-Cola; this blog is one great place to start. It provides die-hard Coke-heads with an opportunity to learn more than their hearts could desire about their favourite Cola. I mean, just take a look at this old ad from Coke.

Footlocker Unlocked – This blog is simply a Wikipedia for any sneaker-head out there. I’m not big into sneakers but I can see why the content on this blog is so important and valuable to their target market. Just browsing through the pages I came across a pair of sneakers I’m tempted to track down and buy.

There’s no doubt in my mind that if you begin implementing some of the tactics above you will begin finding an increase in your business success. The fact that traditional marketing is slowly fading in effectiveness when you compare it with the new social opportunities it’s clear that you can win by being smart. If you aren’t yet active in the social media world, you better flip the switch because you’re going to be left in the dark.

What are you doing to keep your business at the forefront of your customers mind?

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