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A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (WSBDC), part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.
By Bruce Morse, WSBDC Region II director
“Marketing seems so expensive. Are there some things I could be doing that are less costly?” Jaime, Gillette
I recently attended our national Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) conference in San Francisco, where I listened to a presentation by Eric Spellmann of Spellmann and Associates as he discussed “Guerrilla Branding.”
Before I share his six tips, I need to mention one thing. When crafting a marketing message, especially with email, you should spend most of your time on the title or subject line. If this isn’t compelling, chances are customers will not even open the message.
Here are some tips:
-- Generate viral content. So, how do you do this? First, the more niche a product, the easier for it to go viral. Video is the best avenue to make this happen. It doesn’t have to be professionally produced and cost a boatload of money, just catchy. Keep any sale attempt subtle or even non-existent. People don’t like to be “sold to.”
-- Build a lead-generation system. You must have a website, but the goal is not simply to generate traffic or hits; you want them to either buy or call you. There needs to be a clear call to action. Try building a “Top 10” report and give it away: “Top 10 New Fashion Trends for Fall”; “Top 5 Reasons to .”; or “Top 8 Things to Investigate Before Purchasing.” This helps establish you as an expert, and customers get something. If they want more, then that comes with a price.
-- Incentivize using your social networks. Contests are a great way to do this. Be careful, as some social media platforms have rules about contests on their sites. A coupon on Facebook that says "mention this in the next hour and get one free” is a good example.
-- Use email campaigns. Email is still one of the best and cheapest ways to market to current and potential customers, but it must have some value. Don’t just try to sell something. How often you do this depends on the business and industry, so you may have to play with the frequency to get it right. Again, the subject line is critical. Do not buy email lists -- it is illegal.
-- Incentivize opting in. You want to get customers’ permission to contact them in the future. This can be done in a number of ways. Restaurants could have a wait staff competition; there could be special club offers at the cash wrap area in retail stores; collect business cards if you are at a conference; or have an exchange for the chance to win a prize of some kind.
-- Use your business card as a “call to action.” The back of the card can be a coupon for a certain percentage off the customer’s next purchase. Turn your customer into a salesperson by having him or her give the card to a friend, and they both receive a discount on future purchases.
Give these tips a try. If you wish to kick around other ideas, contact your local SBDC adviser.
A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments are available at http://wyen.biz/blog1/.
The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email email@example.com, or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.