In part 1 of this article, I offered my first five ideas for getting ahead in an economy that's got us down. As promised, here are five more inexpensive—yet powerful—ideas that can help you and your business come out on top.
6. Expose unexpected value/savings
I confess that this is probably the most obvious idea and, when executed, the one most likely to find itself on a long line of similar marketing propositions. Still, it can be worth pursuing (better to light a candle than curse the darkness).
In recent years, I've worked with a manufacturer of 3D printers. Its primary marketing messages have been about accelerating time-to-market and facilitating innovation. Today, it might want to consider a value angle by positioning the 3D printer as a less-expensive alternative to outsourcing prototype construction.
For this approach to work, you have to consider not only how your product/service saves money but also for whom it saves money.
With the 3D printers, for example, there's no point targeting the "alternative to outsourced prototyping" message to colleges and universities that have always made their models in-house. But it could be a strong message for industrial design shops and architectural studios.
Refocus your marketing efforts on the segments most likely to realize real value.
7. Leverage expertise
Take stock of your inventory of expertise, know-how, and experience. You've already paid for it, so it makes sense to see how you can leverage it to attract new business. When transformed into case studies, articles, whitepapers, or e-books, your intellectual capital can become a powerful magnet for clients looking for more efficient and effective ways of achieving their goals.
Information-rich content also helps you play social media to your advantage. It is considered bad manners—very bad form—to use blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and the like for overt self-promotion. But the key word here is "overt." Providing content—in the form of articles, e-books, podcasts, and videos—is regarded as praiseworthy, a way of "contributing to the conversation."
Think of it as the difference between crashing a party and showing up with a nice bottle or two of wine. The latter gets you in the door.
8. Do what others fear
Lots of people (including myself) hate cold-calling. So they won't do it. Others are petrified by the prospect of public speaking. And they won't do that either. But you will. By being able to cold-call, speak in public, and take on other marketing efforts that people find uncomfortable or terrifying, you automatically gain a major advantage over your competitors.
"Excellence" is not necessary. It's kind of like the old joke about the two hikers who cross paths with an angry bear. As the bear approaches, one hiker takes off his boots and pulls a pair of running shoes from his backpack. "What the heck are you doing?" asks his friend. "You can't outrun a bear!"
"I don't need to," the first hiker replies. "I just have to outrun you."
You don't have to outrun a standard of perfection. Beating your competitors—who are standing still or moving slowly—is plenty good enough.
9. Shop for marketing bargains
Newspapers and magazines are desperate, because once-expensive ad inventory has declined considerably in price. Similarly, marketers are sending out a lot less direct mail—that means less competition for your prospects' attention.
Are these methods old hat? Not if you can make them work for you. And with lower costs and less-crowded turf, it may make sense for you to pick up the ball and play.
Please, if you remember nothing else, remember this: Make an offer—a deal, a promise of some material thing (a discount, extra features, a premium—even cool content)—in exchange for whatever it is you're asking, be it a sale (B2C) or contact info (B2B).
Even if advertising and direct mail are cheaper today, they're still not cheap; you can't afford to foul up your campaign. And the biggest, most common marketing error I see, especially in B2B marketing, is failure to make an offer. Don't make that mistake.
10. Pull more tactics in-house
Sure, there are techniques, such as direct mail, that require specific expertise. But there are many tactics, such as webinars, that you can create in-house. And there are some, like social media venues (blogs, Twitter, online communities), that you must pursue internally.
If there's a silver lining to our times, it's that traditional "push" methods of communications are being supplemented, or even superseded, by "pull" tactics that attract prospects to you—and pull tactics are precisely the ones you can execute from your own desk.