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After listening in on a HubSpot webinar called Marketing Lessons From The Grateful Dead, I realized The Dead were way ahead of their (marketing) time.

Brian Halligan and David Meerman Scott gave a spirited webinar inspired by the marketing tactics of The Grateful Dead. Having attended a Dead show or two in my day, I found it to be a unique and entertaining take on marketing for small businesses.

Here are a few of my favorite marketing tidbits:

  • Be remarkable—make your content interesting/valuable enough that people will want to share it
  • Watch your competition, but don’t follow them
  • Free content attracts customers—win through familiarity
  • Make it easy for people to share your content—create a community of sharing
  • Experiment, improvise, take a chance
  • Put your loyal customers in the front row—give them perks, first dibs on products or news
  • Stay on top of technology in your industry

Next up, PR tips from The Rolling Stones… April Fool’s!

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I first read about referral marketing campaigns in the book, The Designer’s Guide to Marketing and Pricing by Ilise Benun and Peleg Top of Marketing Mentor. Yesterday I listened in on an informative webinar hosted by Duct Tape Marketing called Building a Referral Engine that shared more ideas for successful referral marketing.

Below find the tips I found most useful from webinar panelists John Jantsch – Creator of Duct Tape Marketing; Bob Burg – Author, “Endless Referrals”, “The Go-Giver”, “Go-Givers Sell More”; Ivan Misner –  Founder & Chairman of BNI; and Ben McConnell – Principal, Ant’s Eye View.

Referral marketing tips:

  • Shift your focus from getting to giving
  • it’s not about you, it’s about them – take the focus off yourself
  • Add value to others – freely share your knowledge
  • Teach your referral partners what to listen for (“I can’t…” or “I need…”) – make it easy for them to give you referrals
  • Create visibility and credibility: tell people what you do and show them you are good at it
  • Establish relationships with new connections before asking for referrals
    • KNOW -> LIKE -> TRUST
  • A great networker enjoys helping others
  • Send a handwritten thank you note after receiving a referral
  • Make strategic referral alliances with fellow business owners who serve similar clients (wedding vendors are great at this)
  • Build relationships and the referrals will follow…

Do you have other great ideas for creating or maintaining a referral marketing program? Share your comments!

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Yesterday marked the first day of Make a Referral Week. The best way to celebrate? Why yes, by giving referrals.

A referral campaign should be part of all small business marketing plans. It doesn’t have to be complicated, it can be as simple as asking a client if they know someone else who might benefit from your services.

But it’s not just about getting referrals… we should also focus on returning the favor by giving referrals. Let’s see how easy it is. Grab a pencil and pad of paper. Jot down 5–10 businesses (or retail shops) that you rely on for their top-notch products, reliability, quality work, superb customer service or just overall fabulousness.

Now, here is your chance to sing their praises to the rest of the world: submit your referral to the Make a Referral Week website. It’s an easy way to help fellow small businesses (and perhaps improve your karma). And if you’re lucky, someone will write a nice referral for you too.

By the way, you can continue the referral love by participating in Make a Referral Monday on Twitter. Share your referrals each Monday using the hashtag #marm—or if you need referrals, just follow along.

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Agenda by Cavallini

Part of a series of post-Creative Freelancer Conference postings:

13. Schedule time each week for marketing.

It’s easy to get busy with client work and forget all about your own marketing efforts. Or maybe you have the time, but you don’t have a plan.

Make a plan! It doesn’t have to be fancy, simply a list of marketing goals and steps to achieve them is enough to start. Then put the steps on the calendar. If you need motivation, a beautifully-designed agenda or day planner can help (left). Or use a ready-made marketing calendar like the Marketing Mentor Grow Your Business Marketing Plan + Calendar.

My goals are to: 1) update my marketing plan to include social media; 2) prioritize my marketing vehicles (so I know what to focus on during busy times) and; 3) schedule a day each week for marketing. Wow, that makes it seem easy, right?

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lvdtwitterPart of a series of post-Creative Freelancer Conference postings:

12. Make a plan for using social media for your business.

  • Know your target market
  • Be useful and informative (freebies are always appreciated!)
  • Be supportive of others’ efforts and projects
  • Be entertaining (it doesn’t have to be all business)
  • Let your personal voice come through
  • Link back to your main online marketing vehicle (website or blog)
  • Determine your goals—focus on those outlets that are working

Social media is like any other marketing tool—it requires some thought and planning. In Colleen Wainwright’s session, The Astoundingly Simple Secrets to Making Social Media Work for You, I was inspired to create a plan for my social media marketing—in other words, avoid Twittering willy-nilly all day.

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677514537_b8ed333c43Part of a series of post-Creative Freelancer Conference postings:

5. Look for trends in your industry and target markets: what is the next direction? What is going away? (inspired by Petrula Vrontikis’ keynote session)

These days, I’m finding it’s not enough simply to stay current with software — staying on top of industry and marketing trends is crucial. Lately, I find myself reading and learning about social media marketing and SEO, in addition to keeping up with my design reading.

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From ganatronic on Flickr

Photo by ganatronic

Part of a series of post-Creative Freelancer Conference postings:

1. Focus on my business “voice” and make sure it shines through in all of my marketing efforts: online, offline and social media.

I’ve decided the best way for me to do this is to write a description of “my voice” and post it on the wall in my office. This way, I can easily check in while I’m working on my marketing materials, posting to my blog or tweeting.

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