Low budget? Here’s how to save $$$$!

Recently, we’ve had the opportunity to work with several wonderful companies across the nation. All of them faced a similar issue. “We need help but agencies want to charge us an arm and a leg to do it for us.” My response to that is, “well, how much are you able to do on your side?” Inevitably, the client will come up with a list of marketing activities they could use current staff to do. At that point, they start to see that human resources are usable to get things done. Need a business to business database? How about setting your admin loose on the Internet and having them pick up the phone to get names, numbers and addresses? LinkedIn is a fabulous resource that can get you in front of the right people. Need to revitalize your social media? How about educating that excited young intern on how to execute your social campaigns? Two private hours invested in development can lead to hundreds of hours of execution, a project you didn’t have to pay an agency for.

Every marketing tactic has a hard cost and a sweat equity cost. When executing your campaigns, weigh the cost of each. Could you develop your team through education to get it done at a lower cost?

These days, there’s an agency for everything: advertising, marketing, social media, direct marketing, pay-per-click, copywriting, graphic design, web design – and yes, we have these experts at our disposal too. However, if you have a low budget, nothing delivers results per dollar like education.

Today’s Exercise: Take some notes! What do you need done? Write the project name at the top of a piece of paper. Then, make two columns. Column One: Resources I Have, Column Two: Resources I Need.  Now, next to those two columns, add two more columns with a $. This represents what those resources will cost you to complete the project.  (Feel free to budget if you don’t know the actual cost of what you need.)  Now, look at what you need. Is there any way you can leverage what you have to fill any of those needs? Change the columns until the budget fits your target amount.

This simple exercise will help you resource plan your project. Need to talk it out? Do so in the comments below. Need help resource planning your next project? Can’t make it fit within your budget?  Contact us.

Build your fan base and they will be screaming for you.


Yesterday, we talked about effective networking online. This sparked a discussion about the steps you should take in building that ever-important reputation. Piping up about the “fan-base philosophy,” garnered from years in the entertainment business, I decided to make today’s exercise about that. If you have read “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell, you know that there’s a certain level of action required before something tips and interest comes in larger waves. That point can be achieved through consistent activities that create exposure for your business. In a word, you have to create value.

Think about a new rock band and how they build their fan base. Starting out, they might play a few local shows. They are seen in some way. It’s said that you can’t make money by sitting in your office. You need to get out, press the flesh, get known. That’s what these small shows are about and, for you, its what small talk is about. Attend a conference where your target market is, become interested in them. Now that the rock band has played a few local shows, and they’ve captured some information (in your case business cards) they send a track out. They’ve also been working their social media channels. They’ve been opening up on Facebook and Twitter, providing a behind the scenes to potential fans. They’ve been providing inspiration and giving away tickets to their next local show. Now they book some local interviews. They get themselves in the media, whatever media they can find. They find their angle an tell their story. They start going to the right parties. (In your world, that party might be the right LinkedIn Group – Staples runs a great one.) They don’t whip out their instruments and play at the party, they just go with the flow, they meet people. More interest collected, they provide their demo to the right people.

Here’s the key, though, they warm up the audience. Your opening song is simply having a conversation. You aren’t in it to pitch yet. You are in it to find out about them, add value and see if they are even pitch worthy. Imagine if this same rock band went to a party and immediately started pitching their music and (ooops) come to find out they are talking to the GM of a country music station. Once the fan base is there, you can communicate on a regular basis and be sure your fans get the newest stuff first. Providing exclusive treatment to your best customers is a great way to keep them listening to you for life.

Building a fan base is all about:

1) Identifying the right channels – Where is your target audience? Where are they most likely to be looking for you?

2) Providing value – What can you provide that’s cool and interesting? What’s your role at the party?

3) Nurturing the fandom – Keep giving, keep learning, keep LISTENING.

4) Learning how you can serve – Ask directed questions and continue to listen.

5) Playing your heart out – Once you can serve, serve with all your heart.

6) Develop an ongoing relationship – Don’t let this be a one night stand. Keep in touch! Check in. Continue providing value and you will be top of mind next time they need something.

Today’s Exercise: Where are you in fan base building? Are you at #1 where you are just figuring out who to talk to or are you learning how to listen? Identify where you are and start building, online and offline. What steps do you need to take to be the rock star of your own business?

Discuss this exercise in the comments below or if you need help, contact us.


Are you an online business creeper?


Today, as I was moderating our new Help for Business Owners and Entrepreneurs LinkedIn Group, I encountered an enthusiastic entrepreneur with an energy business. Unfortunately, I encountered him in the wrong way. Within moments of joining our group he had plastered his URL, phone number, headline in three different places on the group. Being a coach, I reached out to him versus banning him outright (which is what most groups would do). Here was my response, paraphrased. I thought it worthy enough to share with all.

“One of the top things I coach my clients on is how to participate in a group when networking. You meet people for business purposes through networking, but its kind of like dating. It’s not a good idea to push marriage on the first date. You participate in discussions. You provide input. Sending URLS, emails, and so on when you are not the sponsor of the group is not effective group participation.”

It’s true. Think about online dating for a bit. If you are serious about looking for someone, you don’t outright say – “hey, I want to get married honey.” You ask about interests. You comment on aspects of their profile. You get to know them before asking them out on a date.

Social media networking works the same way. If you join a group, ADD VALUE. Answer people’s questions. Ask a few questions of your own. Post an interesting article. To lead generate, post an article you have written that resides on your web site. Ask for opinions about a new product offering. Don’t just say, “hey baby, have I got a special offer for you.” The ONLY place that is appropriate is when you are the sponsor of a group. But do it VERY SPARINGLY. You are there to build a community, to add value. Ultimately, yes, you will come upon people who are interested in what you have to offer. But, like the new person who is participating in a LinkedIn Group, Facebook Group, posting on walls, tweeting, pinning, Instagramming, or anything else, you need to have a soft touch.

Otherwise you just come off like that sleazy guy in a bar looking for a one night stand. Who wants to be THAT guy?

Today’s Exercise: Look at all the ways you network – in person or via social media. Are you asking for marriage before you even get a date? What is your strategy for becoming part of the group and gaining interest before you pitch? What are you doing right? What are you doing wrong?

Questions about how to tackle social media networking? Claim your free Quick Question session and ask away – or just ask on our LinkedIn Group.