It’s no surprise, marketing on a budget is my sweet spot and I love to see other expert’s strategy. How to Scale Your Marketing Without a Marketing Budget, featured in Entrepreneur.com, shows you how to dangle a juicy carrot to generate leads and sell a less expensive product to gain an audience – and make money. Read it and let me know what you’ll offer.

Have big plans but still want to save? Check out this list of 50 free marketing tools from my friends at SmallBizTrends.com. Some you may know Yoast and HARO, but what about Majestic, Sniply, Promo Republic, Recite This and Answer the Public?  See how these tools can help you.

And lastly, if you’re looking for a cheat sheet, download 50 Ways to Promote Your Business on a Dime. Thousands of marketers without a million-dollar budget have used this resource to grow their business. It’s a collection of marketing and PR tips that I’ve curated over the last year to increase your visibility and sales – without breaking the bank.  Download a copy for your files.

Take a look at Boston University’s #BUGiving Day and their social toolkit. I’m not sharing this just because it’s my alma mater. I like how it’s put together.  It’s a content-rich example on how to develop your own communication tool to share news, special events and promotions.

I signed up to help support their event and received an email follow up asking me to be a social brand ambassador for the cause.  “Sure,” I thought.  “Why not.”

First, here’s the email that I received:

Hi Robin:

Thanks so much for signing up to receive email reminders about BU Giving Day 2017.  The big day is now just two days away, and we couldn’t be more excited!

I’m reaching out today to remind you to save the date for Wednesday, and to spread the word to your fellow Terriers that #BUGivingDay is coming.  We’ve put together this social toolkit to help get you started.

We’d also love it if you joined us as a social ambassador.  When you sign up, you can link your favorite social accounts and receive emails with easy one-click sharing when we have new content.  You also have the chance to win some great prizes just by signing up.

Thank you for your support of Giving Day – you help us make a huge difference in the lives of BU students today, and for years to come!

Thanks,
Phil

When I saw their social toolkit, I was intrigued. When I opened it up, I loved how it was organized with easy to read headlines and sections.  Giving Day Basics. Examples of Facebook posts and Tweets. Facebook Cover Photos. Instagram Pictures.

Great job BU.  Not just cause I’m from COM. It’s good work.

Facebook is the rage – and why not?  You can target niche audiences, spend as little or as much money as you want for advertising and create look alike audiences with your email lists. Another option is to download your LinkedIn contacts onto an Excel file and import the data. I wrote about a few of these ideas in a recent Facebook marketing article.

But how can you use Facebook events to grow your business?

Think about creating and promoting events like these to connect with your target audience:

  • Trade Shows
  • Demonstrations
  • Pop up Events
  • Webinars
  • New Classes
  • Speaking Gigs
  • Book signings
  • Ticket Sales
  • Grand Openings
  • Unboxing your product

Sure, you can offer discount offers to your community, invite people to your sporting events, job fairs and auctions too. Think of what’s coming up on your calendar and create a Facebook event to share the news!

Whether you’re working full-time, part-time or own your own business, chances are you’ll be involved at some point with helping a non-profit.  If you are, getting exposure can make or break an event or fundraising activities. Getting free or almost free PR and marketing isn’t impossible, no matter what nay sayers might tell you.

Here’s a List of 10 Ways to Extend Your Non-Profit’s PR and Marketing Dollars

  1. Find Agencies Who Do Pro Bono Work. Find out who knows who in your organization and ask if there’s anyone with advertising or PR ties.  You may have an opportunity to get some free work – even if it’s with a smart intern who’s being supervised.
  2. See Who’s Advertising on Digital Billboards. There’s always a chance that digital advertisers have extra ad space that they’re willing to donate. If your cause is compelling enough or dear to their hearts, your message could be seen on high traffic billboards. Never ask, never know.
  3. Check out Google Grants. I’m not an expert on Google Grants, but what I’ve read sounds interesting, especially if your charity qualifies for a $10,000 in-kind AdWords campaign every month. Read the fine print to know the rules and what you’re committing to.
  4. Consider Crowd Funding. Crowdfunding may be an option for your charity, but you never know until you take a closer look. It’s another way to fundraise from outside your regular community in a more global way. Pulling on heart strings still applies.
  5. Write Press Releases Once a Month. Keep the media up to date with news about your charity. Press releases can be sent to journalists, a PR distribution service — paid or free, as well as to sponsors and partners. Use the link to promote your cause on emails and for supporting information when you’re creating a pitch.
  6. Build a Media Contact List. Research reporters who are covering your topic or local area to see if they’re interested in a feature story. Building a media list can be as simple as creating an excel spread sheet and including all pertinent contact information. Be sure to update the list on a regular basis to stay current.
  7. Approach bloggers who may be interested in your story.  Use Google to research top bloggers to share your story, and/or think about guest blogging for other sites. Practice your story telling and pitch in advance to make sure it’s short, sweet and to the point.  Ask yourself, why readers will care about your cause. That’s what an editor wants to know.
  8. Contact Marketing and PR Departments at Local Universities. Would a non-profit campaign like yours be a project a University may be interested in? Make a few calls or send an email or two. You may gain an intern and a few tweethearts.
  9. Organize Local Events Not Just Fundraisers. Hosting local events where you’re not asking for money will give you an opportunity to share your message, share the love and hopefully, share some of the work! Find people who are committed, like-minded and are influencers in their own right. Hate to recruit? Reframe your thinking. It’s multi-level marketing with a heart!
  10. Speak and Talk Up Your Charity. If you are your brand wherever you go, you’re also a brand ambassador for your cause. Tell the world to change the world. Speak on behalf of your charity whenever you get a chance and build a network who cares.

Lastly, you’ll always want to make a list of PWLY and PWBIY. People who love you and people who believe in you. Be sure that you have their full contact information to stay in touch and thank them often. These key supporters are your raving fans.

Show them the love and they’ll return it.

A few months ago, I met Kim Lundgren at the Unmask the Greatness in You Conference, sponsored by the Center for Women and Enterprise. I was a featured mentor and she booked time with me for a half-day marketing intensive.

What does Kim do? Her company, Kim Lundgren Associates creates sustainability dashboards for local governments.  She’s on a fire. In a good way. Busy booking business and growing her brand on multiple platforms.

Kim and her team met with me last week. What did the day look like?  Here’s a glimpse. 

Four (4) hours of high intensity training on how to foster deeper relationships with clients, increase visibility, secure speaking gigs, gain PR, generate leads, build out your brand, promote your podcast, get free press, maximize upcoming events and then not go crazy.

Here’s what Kim had to say:  

“Robin opened my eyes to the vast opportunities and resources available to not only promote my brand but to actually grow my business. In just 4 hours, I have a renewed sense of excitement and a clear set of priorities to focus on.”

If you’re looking to get clarity, where to focus and spend your time and PR and marketing resources effectively, consider a VIP Day. Don’t get blinded by your blind spots.

Find Out How a VIP Day Can Grow Your Business

Speakers always want more gigs and good speakers, who want to play a bigger game, will do whatever it takes to get an event planner’s attention.

At the same time, event planners are on the lookout for speakers who may be a perfect fit for their clients. Because it’s such an important decision, their eyes are always open for new subject experts, motivational, team building, and adventure types that will wow a crowd.

Here Are 3 Ways to Get an Event Planner’s Attention [And Build Your Speaking Business]

Publish Content. Writing books or articles, not just your blog, will help you get more speaking gigs.  When you’re published on a consistent basis, you’re recognized as a subject expert, especially when you send a copy of your latest book along with your speaker’s package. If you up your fee and negotiate a book for everyone in the audience, it accomplishes two more things: bigger ka-ching and a bona-fide endorsement, that what they’ll hear, will be valuable.

Present More Often. By speaking on a more consistent basis, you not only hone your skills, you stay current with industry news and insight. As a featured presenter, you also have an opportunity to hear first-hand, your target market’s questions, challenges and top concerns. Bottom line, that’s content in raw form for future articles, blogs – maybe even your next book.

Email Loyal Fans to Keep Them in the Know. Sure, social media is important, but it’s not everything. It’s a tool to enhance your PR and marketing efforts on many platforms. To complement the media mix, create a direct path to your sales funnel and build an email list of raving fans. Write copy that’s compelling and relevant to your target audience. Build the like, know and trust factor naturally and just be you.

There’s no one sure way to increase visibility or secure your next speaking engagement. Create a steady stream of traditional, online and offline PR and marketing activities with one common goal – to build your brand as an expert who can solve problems and inspire an audience to think, take action or just believe. Do that, and you’ve done your job.

Bonus Tip: I often talk about using HARO (HelpAReporterOut.com) to get press and it’s a still a keeper. Remember, every media nudge along the way may prompt an “I’m not sure” into a “Yeah, baby – let’s give him/her a call!”

Want to Build an Audience of Raving Fans?

If you’re still on the fence about email marketing, think of every business card or contact you have bundled up or sitting in your desk drawer.

What’s the average price of your product or service?  $500?  $1,000?  $5000? Now, multiple that by the number of cards or email addresses you have.  $1000 x 500 contacts = $50,000 in untapped revenue.

Get your prospects and customers to say yes more, by just being in touch. You can check out Constant Contact here for 60 days, without spending a dime. I’m a Local Authorized Expert and know it works!

Sounds like an easy task – to write what you want. Most people start with a list of questions to answer which provides valuable insight, but I also like to add a visual component.

What does a wheel have to do with PR and marketing? This wheel, and the one you’ll draw, is a PR Vision Tool where you decide where you’d like to be seen. You can add spokes, identify opportunities and weight them according to your goals and desires. And, every few months you can reinvent the wheel based on your results and efforts.

Here’s a sketch of my Marketing & PR outline for 2017.

Remember, it’s a work in progress so you can tweak and recreate as you like. Think of it as a recipe for success. Take a look.

Simple? Maybe you think so, but the start of everything great begins by writing it on paper. This isn’t just about manifesting.  It’s about planning and thinking where you may get the biggest bang for your buck. [Free].

I’ll confess.  As much as I’ve heard of Meetup groups to widen your outreach, I never realized its potential to reach a like-minded audience.

If you’re new to Meetups, they’re a great way to build your expertise, test new brand personas and prospect for clients or potential partnerships. They can also help build a list and extend your influence circle – especially if you’re traveling and speaking out of town. Let’s face it, if you’re already in a new city, why not maximize your time there and promote your business?

If you’re thinking of having an event, one way to test the waters is by creating a Meetup.

As a new Meetup leader, you have a free trial for a month and can start a group on almost any topic you like. I didn’t know what to expect and was willing to give it a try.

Hint #1: To promote your event, give everything you think might work a try.

I was surprised that within three days, I had about 15 people interested in my group and made it a point to email each and every person. You can’t be too salesy, though.  Meetups are meant to start a conversation.

You can imagine my delight when a producer from a local news station in Boston inquired and asked if she could interview me and videotape the event. All from Meetup! I responded quickly, which is appreciated by the press.

Hint: #2. Be quick to respond to a reporter’s request.

I joke that you should be available 23/7, making sure to get an hour of sleep. That’s me. Keep your phone handy and turn up the volume. I always forget to switch from silent to my favorite ring tone.

Hint #3:  Create a media package that explains your event.

A media package means information. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it needs to tell a story quickly. We had written a pitch, designed an event flyer, had a photo ready in several sizes and a working registration page via Constant Contact.

Hint #4:  Whether your event is free or paid, as the organizer, you are the voice of the event.  Always be clear and congruent. A mixed message never sells or gets press.

Hint #5: Learn what works and use it. Meetups is a platform that works depending on how you want to use it. If it doesn’t work for an event, it can lead to other opportunities, if you allow it.  So, set a good intention. Good juju will follow.

Lastly, you can’t just depend on one tactic to promote an event.  It’s a combination of trial and error, as well as proven tactics that have worked in the past.

We called the Mayor’s office for the Kids Gratitude Workshop, posted flyers, send pitches to the press, posted on calendars, invited sponsors, used email marketing from strong supporters and asked for help on social media.

One thing that was different here. The event was designed to teach kids the Attitude of Gratitude and how it opens doors to possibilities you can’t even imagine.

You’ll find that when you believe in your mission and have passion, you’ll have success.

Redefine it on your terms. Not someone else’s.

If you’re in the market to buy promotional products to increase your company’s brand awareness at a trade show, event or conference, it’s important to know the most common mistakes people make – so you can avoid them like the plague.

Over the last 20 years, I’ve seen the simplest jobs go wrong because of a mix up of facts, colors, formats and more.

Take a few minutes and read what the mistakes are so your order comes out exactly as you expect, at the price you want and on time!

Lack of purpose

With millions of promotional products to choose from it’s important to know the purpose of your promotional product campaign. Do you want to increase traffic to your website, landing page or promote a special offer? Based on your answer, you may be surprised that a different product, design or distribution plan may be a better idea. Without a clear goal and purpose, your marketing campaign could be doomed to fail before it really begins.

Not tailored to your audience

A custom beer koozie is a great premium for a bar or brewery, but not necessarily on target with a hospital’s image. I’ve seen buyers select premiums that are cool in their eyes, but just don’t fit. When this happens, marketers are appealing to their own taste rather than their audience’s. Take time to research the interest and hobbies of your target demographic and find a product that will appeal to them. Not sure?  Create an informal focus group!

Bland or generic design

Does your freebie or premium have visual interest? Whether it’s colorful, has a catchy slogan or pattern, you want to be sure your product gets attention and a positive reaction. If you create a giveaway that’s boring and uninteresting, chances are you’ve wasted a timely marketing opportunity. Remember, one of the goals of giving a promotional product is to create interest – in the product, service and the item itself!

What’s your distribution plan?

Before you even order promotional products, determine what you’re going to do with them. Will you give them out at a trade show or will reps hand them out to customers in the field? Are you trying to increase your customer’s loyalty by sending a product in the mail or attract a new prospect, in a totally new target market? No matter how you answer these questions, you can be select in your distribution. And, remember to keep at least a few samples in your file cabinet with important facts like where you gave them out, when and feedback. (You can use an excel spreadsheet too).

Ordering cheap items

Most promo products are fairly inexpensive and cost effective as compared to other types of marketing. I know it’s tempting to save as much money as possible and buy the cheapest products available, but sacrificing quality for quantity can actually cost you more in the long run. Be mindful that what you give out is a reflection of your brand, so going cheap isn’t always the way to go. I’m not asking you to break the bank or your budget, but here’s the deal: Your product needs to be effective, before it can be cost effective.

Printing ineffective information

This sounds like a no brainer, but don’t forget to include your website and contact information on the promotional item. The best product at the best price will be wasted if people can’t reach you. Granted, you have limited printing space to work with, so make every word count to reach your goal. A call to action isn’t a marketing maybe, it’s a marketing must! Premiums and promotional items included.

Not proofing carefully

How carefully are you reviewing the proof your promotional company is sending you? Take it from me, you may want to enlist others in your company to take a look too. Triple check the ink and PMS colors as well the actual imprint position. Once you’ve signed off on a proof and the job is in progress, additional changes will mean tossing out the old, and beginning from scratch. And, you know you’ll have to pay extra unless it’s not your fault.

Being stingy on quantities

Don’t be afraid to order a few extra premiums to have on hand for future events and surprise trade shows or meetings. Most vendors offer quantity price breaks where the price per piece decreases as the quantity increases. A company can often save 10 to 15 percent on an order by just adding more product. Plan out your event calendar and product purchases ahead of time and you can save big time.

Pay rush charges

This is one of the biggest mistakes marketers make and one of the easiest ways to reduce costs. Think and plan ahead! A typical production facility schedules weeks in advance so when a rush order comes in changes must be made immediately at the plant. A standard rush order can result in charges of 25% or more. A next day change for your million-dollar client can be – well, you don’t want to know. I’ve done it and saved the day and you could too. When you’re not in panic mode, ship by ground to avoid high freight charges. If you’re going to fly premiums overnight, why not save the money and travel yourself?

The bottom line is this.  Don’t rush through the planning stages of your promotional products campaign. Effective event purchasing can give you the results you’re looking if you use these tips on your checklist before you buy.

About the Author

Rachel Leone is a client and President of Leone Marketing.  Her firm specializes in finding perfect promotional products for trade shows and events to increase brand awareness, loyalty and recognition.  Rachel works with Fortune 500 brands as well as small business owners to engage, without a diamond ring. Her brainstorming sessions are noteworthy and complimentary. Contact Rachel at Rachel@LeoneMarketing.com.

Speaking is a great way to hear first-hand what entrepreneurs and business owners are thinking.  Last month, this question popped up a few times. “How can I do all the marketing and still do my work?  I feel overwhelmed!”

Well, that’s pretty easy to answer.

You can’t do all your work and sell, then take care of all the PR and marketing.  It’s just not possible.  Unless, you have at least an outsourced person or two to help with the workload, an intern or another member of your team who’s qualified to carry out your vision (and instructions).

But, you can do what’s important to grow your business and brand. You just have to select the promotional tactics and tasks that matter, and automation that fits.

So, how does a busy entrepreneur avoid marketing overwhelm?  

  • Stay focused and don’t try to do it all. I’m a recovering perfectionist and drove myself crazy trying to be everything and everywhere all at once. To start, identify your ideal client and where they hang out. Then be clear on your messaging and call to action, and build a strong consistent outreach program.
  • Find the best 2 – 3 platforms that will increase your visibility and learn how to use them to get your biggest bang for the buck. If your customers aren’t on Instagram, don’t waste your time. If the majority of your customers aren’t women, don’t bother with Pinterest.  If you’re in the B 2 B space, use LinkedIn. Write on Pulse, comment, engage, join groups.  If your audience is on Facebook, go for it and mix it up with video. Building credibility? Consider Twitter.  Build a foundation then add layers (platforms that make sense).
  • Remember the golden rule of promotion (yes rules are meant to be broken). Engage 80% of the time with your audience, prospects, customers and influencers.  Promote your products, services, events and special offers 20% of the time. This takes time and requires content marketing, but it builds a base of raving fans.
  • Find influencers in your industry and see what they’re doing. Yes, you can lurk anonymously on LinkedIn, but really, there’s no need.  See what others are up to, but don’t go into a tail spin if they’re one place and you’re another.  Try a platform to see if there’s a fit – and also, consider your USP (Unique Selling Proposition). What makes you different from your competitor. Are they really competitors anyway?  Isn’t there enough business for us all?
  • Test, try, then say goodbye. You aren’t being judged. Let it go if you made feel like you made a mistake or something didn’t work. Read up on what you think the best strategy is for your business, phone a friend or expert and test it out.  No babies are dying here.  Think of it like adding accessories or trying a new look. Lucky you, most promotional copy and ideas can be reworked or recycled.
  • Have your customers sell for you. What’s more powerful than a solid word of mouth referral? “Hello – yes, I’d love to – this is how we work – and here’s what we charge.  Awesome, when do you want to begin?  Your credit card?  Of course – give me a minute to grab a pen.” You can also ask for referrals on your email signature, at network meetings and when you talk with an event organizer. Bottom line, you have to ask. It’s as easy as “ketchup please?”  Know anyone else that might like my ABC?
  • Automate baby, automate. I’m an expert in training. I say it all the time.  My colleagues are located all around the country, but one thing is, we share tools, tricks and tips and we try them out.  I love Buffer.com, Feedly.com, Canva.com and a host of other websites that make my social media and design life easier. Work for 30 minutes, post for 1 week. I’m into easy and colorful sharing of PR, marketing and business insights.

Overwhelm is a choice and it’s not for me.  I’d prefer to be more spot-on, not compare myself to others and listen to my gut to tell me what’s write. (Oh, I meant right).  Either way, business is what you make it.

Explore your options and be your best self.  You can’t go wrong.