20 Ways to Continue Marketing With No Budget

Sunset in East Lothian - Real Marketing

You’ve been forced to close your shop, retail warehouse or restaurant, or stop delivering your services, and had to furlough or layoff many of your employees. It’s a very challenging and unsettling time. We’re all trying to adjust to the Coronavirus Crisis as quickly as we can.

You may have already reviewed all your marketing activity and switched off unnecessary marketing spend to reduce the cash drain. This could involve stopping planned advertising in print publications, halting Google Ads campaigns, cancelling events and shows, and turning off other communications channels across the board.

But, some businesses may react too quickly. They stop doing most of their marketing and that can be a serious mistake; analysis from previous crises and severe downturns in 1992, 2002 and 2008 shows that companies who continue to market during a serious recession are more likely to survive, build their brands and grow their profits much faster when the economy recovers and more likely to survive.

When life has settled down a bit and you have the space to think clearly, there’s a surprising amount that you can continue to do to market your business without spending much marketing budget at all. You need to have a plan for your marketing and it will involve some pivoting, perhaps some significant changes to your current strategy. You have to shift to the new normal or your business may not survive.

Remember, the aim of marketing is to buy life-time customers that provide repeat business, recurring revenues. A lot of your profits come from repeat business.

If you own an East Lothian small business (SME), you may well qualify for up to 3 days of Free Expert Help Marketing Support delivered by me through Real Marketing. See the positive feedback from 18 companies that have already benefited from the programme and apply. All businesses taking part have said that ‘they would definitely recommend this marketing support.

Please use the headings below as a checklist to help you create your own practical Zero Budget Marketing Plan with concrete actions that could help your business survive and thrive. [Please note that this blog has been split into 2 parts of 10 sections each because of its length – if you’re seriously interested, please request the full article].

1. Product Strategy

Your products are one of the key ‘Ps’* in the marketing mix that influence demand from your customers. Assess which of your products and services are worth promoting in the short term: some may have a long lead time which means that the product or service can be delivered post-lockdown; and some may be more in demand. You may even be able to create and launch new products. Be flexible and open-minded. *[Price and Promotion are 2 more of the marketing Ps.]

For products with shorter lead times, you still need to fill your order book for after lockdown. So, pre-book as much business as you can, even if customer appointments or delivery needs to be re-confirmed nearer the time.

Providing excellent customer service is more important than ever. Do the ‘critical non-essentials’, the little touches that will be remembered. Create special offers for your advocates and raving fans so that they can help you through these challenging times.

2. Selling Messages, USP & Brands

Review your unique selling proposition (USP) and selling messages, and adjust them for the current stressed environment. Your messages probably have to evolve. Be empathetic, sympathetic, supportive, kind, compassionate, positive and optimistic.

Taking the right steps will also have a positive impact on your brand: according to recent studies in Asia, brands that ‘deliver purpose in an ethical way’ during the crisis will grow twice as much as average brands.

What problems are you fixing for your customers? What are the benefits that they buy from you (not just the features)? Who are your ideal customers? What are their profiles (personas) and where are they concentrated?

As well as repeat customers with high lifetime values, you need customers that refer you. Customers who refer you are better at selling your products than you are! So, how can you encourage referrals?

I recommend… finding ways to adapt your message to help those in crisis. Avoid any messaging that would make it appear that you’re exploiting the crisis rather than providing value. …At some point, people will become tired of talking about the crisis, and you’ll be able to go back to business as usual. (AJ Wilcox, host of The LinkedIn Ads Show)

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How to Beat the Online Trust Crisis

Online Reviews - Warning Deep Water

90% of consumers read online reviews

Being trusted by prospective customers is essential but there’s a consumer trust crisis. We all know that the internet is awash with frauds, fake news, scams and poor content.

Consumers are more cynical and savvy about marketing than they’ve ever been.

Nearly 9 in 10 consumers have read online reviews to determine the quality of a local business (BrightLocal). Similarly, 90% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, which means that having good, recent reviews is essential for effective marketing.

Successful businesses need to be trusted; you need to build ‘trust capital’. This is a valuable strategic resource. If your business has high trust capital it reduces the’ trust gap’.

You can achieve this by having a secure website (with an SSL certificate), easy navigation, up-to-date content, a strong team section (because it’s one of the top 5 most visited pages on many websites), an authentic sustainable approach to the environment, offering online chat, a privacy statement, engaging social media presences and good search engine rankings.

Do you have a customer review strategy?

And, of course, you should also have very good customer testimonials and reviews.

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10 Essential Email Marketing Tips

Love It or Hate It, Email Marketing Is Powerful

Email newsletters, flyers and alerts used well with a high quality, opt-in list can be very powerful.

Email marketing is one of the most measurable ways of retaining and keeping in touch with your customers. Done well as part of a content marketing strategy, email marketing can be cost effective and deliver high returns (ROI).

But, as you know, email done badly is spam and can easily annoy your customers. You must follow the rules and best practice.

Here are 10 Essential Email Marketing Tips

1. Build high quality lists

The quality of your list is really important. Build your own email marketing list of customers and prospects. Use a double opt-in process, ideally, or, at least, a single opt in process.
I’m not a fan of bought lists, particularly big, untargeted lists. Using these could result in you being black-listed.

Be fully aware of the laws affecting email marketing, and comply. Recipients must be able to opt out easily from any email. This is a legal requirement.

Review your list to see who hasn’t opened or clicked on a link for the last six months. Provide them with a compelling offer to re-engage.

Speak to Christopher Lamotte for advice about your email marketing. I can create and send out your email newsletters.

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‘Content Marketing’ and Why It’s Critical to Online Success

View East Lothian - Content Marketing

All Marketers Tell Stories

Seth Godin 6th August 2015

Commit to Content Marketing

To make your website and digital marketing work for you, you must commit to publishing content. ‘Content marketing’ must be an integral component of your overall marketing strategy and is critical to online success.

“However, creating good content takes time, and not everyone likes writing or is good at it,” says Christopher Lamotte from Real Marketing. “I find a surprising number of people struggle with writing blogs and articles, due to lack of time or a (perceived) lack of writing skills. So, here are some content marketing tips and suggestions.”

Firstly, what is ‘content marketing’? It means creating content that would be of genuine value to your customers – stories, news items, email newsletter articles, social media posts and videos – to answer their questions through blogs, email, social media and video channels.

Content marketing promotes your business subtly and teaches at the same time. It is two-way and delivers trust. Today, this is essential for generating online enquiries and sales.

The art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling. It is non interruption marketing. Instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyers more intelligent or perhaps entertaining them to build an emotional connection.
Joe Pulizzi, Founder of The Content Marketing Institute

Joe Pulizzi, Founder of The Content Marketing Institute 5th September 2015

The content you create should not be salesy, about your products or how good your service is. Your content should be about achieving two key objectives with your target customers:

  • educating them &
  • building trust

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