A great example of Partnership Marketing

ING direct promo

I love a good partner promotion. It’s a zero budget marketer’s dream – find someone with a comparable size database and work out a promotion together.

I’ve just received a great offer via my bank (ING Direct) for 20% off at clothing retailer THE ICONIC.

It ticks all the boxes – a decent discount, a stylish looking marketing piece, a brand I recognise.

I don’t know the details of what these particular partners worked out, but I know I regularly negotiate similar arrangements for clients and NO MONEY changes hands. The extra benefit of these sorts of promotions is that they are always more successful than promotions to rented lists – that is, when you DO spend money. That’s because your promotion has an implicit tick of approval from the organisation sending it, who has a great relationships with it’s own database.

So whether you’re a small or large business, someone is talking to the sort of customers you want to access. And someone will want to talk to the sort of customers on your database. So get in touch and work out a partnership promotion today!

Remember the value of a competition when it comes to database building


I’m a direct marketer at heart. It’s how I started my career (so long again it was in mail order shopping, well before the dawn of online shopping!). It’s still what I most trust. I feel safer making an investment (of time or money) where I’m able to say with reasonable confidence “if I spend X, I’ll get Y in return”. It’s the same reason CPC online marketing has become so popular. You get an immediate cost per lead.

Now to be a successful direct marketer, you need your own list – preferably an email list, because email is still the killer app. And one of the best (and cheapest) ways to build a list is a competition. I’ve run MANY of these over the years and it constantly surprises me how much information people will share about themselves on the promise of winning something, even something comparatively small. We all love the thought of something for nothing.

So if you’re struggling to work out how to build your email list, run a competition.

The example I’ve included in today’s post is a perfect zero budget marketing example. The cost of the promotion is negligible – they’re giving away five copies of an ebook, so at most the ‘value’ is probably $25 – but I guarantee you they’ll get hundreds of entries. And they’ll be valuable entries because the sort of people who want to win a book are obviously ‘readers’ and ‘readers’ are pretty likely to buy books too.

The beauty of those people who join your email list is that they become the path to even more people.

I’m in the midst of a ‘refer a friend’ promotion with another client, with a total prize pool of only $750 (five spa gift vouchers – both the referrer and the referee go into the draw when the new person joins). The response has been huge – 25% of the new sign ups we’ve had for the offer have come from the refer a friend promotion, despite it being about only 5% of the campaign budget.

Now of course once you have people on your email list, you’ve got to treat them with respect – entertain them, educate them, keep them involved. But before I veer off onto a whole other post, for now let me sum up by saying:

Building a prospect and customer email list will be THE MOST COST EFFECTIVE form of marketing you’ll ever do.

And an extremely cheap way to get people onto your list is to run a competition. And then run another one. And then run another one…

Can you avoid an email unsubscribe?

subscription options

It is such hard work getting someone to subscribe to your email list, but it’s worth it because email is still the killer app of online marketing.

To be a good email marketer, you always need to include an opt-out, a chance for people to unsubscribe. But what if you gave someone another option? Perhaps they are annoyed by the volume of your emails (or all their emails, more likely). But if you could offer them the chance to reduce this volume, might they take it? I know recently I did.

I’m now living in the land of aggressive and constant marketing (aka the USA) and with a few household purchases have been a little inundated with daily marketing emails. I wanted to unsubscribe to some of them and came across the scenario pictured above with kitchenware retailer Chefs. I could unsubscribe but I could also drop emails to weekly or a couple of times a month. It gave me pause- and I chose twice a month instead of unsubscribing. Like most consumers, I was teased with the fact I might ‘miss out’ if I unsubscribed completely.

So clever, because it’s saved them a subscriber – someone who’s purchased from them and really is quite likely to do so again if reminded or appropriately tempted.

Why is this zero budget marketing at it’s best? It’s protecting an investment: work already done and money already spent.

Could you offer this on your unsubscribe page? Or if you don’t have that level of customisation, perhaps on your unsubscribe page you can give people the option to engage with you on social media by liking your page or following you on Twitter. These can be less ‘intrusive’ and if someone wanted to hear from you once, maybe they still do, just a little less often.

Here’s to holding on to those subscribers in some way, shape or form!

The upsell is a great zero budget marketing technique

Why is the up-sell and ideal ‘zero budget marketing’ technique? It’s additional ‘sales’ with no real additional effort!

I was reminded of the power of the upsell recently when I booked a hotel room at The Cullen in Melbourne. After completing my booking, I was offered a selection of potential paid upgrades. And I opted for the Cullen Suite ‘potential’ upgrade.

Now what’s funny is that I’d know about the suite but had decided I should probably just go with the cheaper room. Yet when it was then offered it after I’d already committed to booking with the hotel, I wavered and committed to the upgrade. And thus if the suite is available when I arrive, the hotel makes another $200 off me. And all it took was some clever thinking on their part.

I doubt I’m the only easily swayed consumer out there. In fact, I know I’m not. It’s the same reason it’s easier to convert a subscriber to a buyer at the time they sign up. We make decisions all the time, but they’re rarely set in stone. As consumers, we’re open to persuasion, especially when we think they’re something in it for us: a better deal, a better offer.

So where could you incorporate a ‘good value’ upsell in your sales process?


Whatever you do, keep the originals!


There’s a situation that has come up over and over in dealing with businesses who sponsor events I’m involved with or that I want to feature in blogs or newsletters. It has happened so often it’s prompted this post. I urge you to take heed, particularly if you’re starting out in business.

When you get a logo designed, a product or professional head shot taken, or even a brochure designed – get the original files and file them somewhere safe and easy to access! It will save you a lot of money, and stress, down the line.

Why it matters with images and logos

Many people still don’t know the difference between a ‘high res’ (high resolution) and a  ‘low res’ (low resolution) file. I’ll ask for high res and someone will send me a 50 kb jpeg.

You always need to have the largest files possible. Why?

If you provide a low resolution file, it can’t be used for all applications – that is, it can’t be used in print and can’t be made larger in any way, or it will distort.

You can’t make a photo or image file larger without degrading it’s quality. Image files usually end in extensions like. .jpg or .png.

As a rough guide, a high resolution file is usually quite large – over 1 MG – and if it’s a logo, it will ideally end with a .eps (Adobe Photoshop) or .ai (Adobe Illustrator).

So make sure you don’t just file away small versions of images or logos – get the largest ones possibly upfront and file them somewhere handy. Otherwise you may find yourself having to get logos recreated or images re-shot, which costs you money!

Why it matters with design files

Designers and agencies prefer not to give you “working files” – but I’d encourage you to negotiate upfront to get these, even if you have to pay a little more.

There are some valid reasons for why they don’t want to give you working files – not wanting you to ‘ruin’ their work by tinkering, to have it go to another agency to change and that they want you to come back to them for future work and edits.

However, for many smaller businesses, you simply don’t change artwork very often. And relationships with designers can be transient – who you use one year is often different the following year, perhaps because someone was doing you a favour, or you have a disagreement, or because they’re no longer in business.

If you don’t have the original files, and you want to make changes and don’t have the original files, a new designer will need to start from scratch. And this costs you more money.

Want better results from marketing? Time for a zero budget marketing audit!

No matter how many times I talk to clients, prospective clients, an audience – I’m surprised by how often people think of marketing as starting something NEW. A new campaign. A new program. A new channel. A new product. A new release.

Perhaps it’s because there is a promise in ‘the new’, or perhaps it’s because it’s just more interesting to start something than it is to be in the midst of working on something.

Next time you’re tempted to start something NEW in your marketing, I’d suggest you take a ‘zero budget marketing’ approach and instead evaluate what you already have, or what you’re already doing, before spending a cent on something new.

Review your existing website – Are there enough opportunities to engage with you, how is your SEO performing, is the content in dire need of an update? Would a new ‘template’ make all the difference? Is it all looking as professional as it should? Are all your online properties linked to it?

Review your existing social media – What are you already doing? Are you doing it often enough, being engaging enough? Is it actually generating a return?

Review your existing and past customers – Have you been in touch with them lately? What other services could you be offering them? Have you asked them for referrals? Have you provided any additional value they haven’t had to pay for?

Review your pricing – Is it too low? Can your market bare a slight increase (it usually can, despite what you think), can you bundle what you’re selling to create a better value but higher value sale?

Review your email list – When was the last time you went out to them? Could you be emailing more? Have you made an effort to update the emails of those whose emails have ‘bounced’?

Review your existing lead generation activities - If you have online listings on Google or other platforms, have you checked they’re compelling, up to date and supported by positive reviews? If you have existing standing advertising, is it working as hard as it should be or does it need a refresh? Are you following up all the existing leads you’re getting promptly and regularly?

Review your marketing systems – Are the tools you’re using still the right ones? Could you automate more? Could you link them better? Do you need to rethink the way it’s all working?

Review your existing brochures – Is the content still relevant? Are the images still right? Is there enough call to action? Or valuable content? Are there any errors that need fixing?

Hopefully you’ll see there’s a lot of work – but a huge amount of opportunity – in the above audit. Most of this won’t cost you anything more than your time, attention and creativity. Yet the returns could be immediate.

So before you start something new, make sure everything you’re already doing, you’re doing as well as you possibly can. That’s the zero budget marketing way!

Every business must ‘do’ marketing

I was at an event last week and I met a small business person who told me she didn’t want to have to ‘do marketing’. She just wanted to focus on her doing her work (landscape gardening).

Saying you don’t want to do marketing is like saying you don’t want to do your tax: You still have to do it!

I told her she already was engaging in marketing, whether she realised it or not, by being at a business networking event. Doing an amazing job for her clients was also part of her marketing, so that they’ll refer her to other potential clients. When I suggested she ASK her clients for referrals though, she looked uncomfortable. And said “but the work just keeps appearing, so I don’t think I have to.”

My concern with this mindset is that business is never ALWAYS good. And if you’re doing nothing to fill your pipeline – it’s just somehow happening – then what will you do when one day it stops happening. You’ll have no database, no practice at trying to generate awareness and leads, nothing to fall back on.

As a marketing consultant, my job is hardest when people wait for business to be bad before looking for help. Smart business people are always “marketing” in some way – whether it’s building their reputation, telling their story, tweaking pricing, selling more to existing customers, growing their database, rearranging their physical or virtual store, finding new sales channels or through more traditional promotional programs.

I guarantee you’ll actually save money in the long run by always thinking about your marketing – the lead-generating and the non-lead generating activities – because you won’t be starting from scratch when you do have to ‘do’ marketing.

The elusive silver bullet in marketing


When I get approached by new clients, what they really want is the silver bullet. The ‘one thing’ that will transform their business to an (almost) overnight success. Oh, and it can’t be too expensive (unless you can GUARANTEE it will work) and won’t take too much of their time or effort.

The fact is, the “silver bullet” in marketing is as elusive as a unicorn. Much as we’d all love it to exist, it doesn’t.

Yet people get rich on promising the silver bullet. “Do X and you’ll make a million Ys”. People want to believe in it, even when it seems too good to be true. And they get burned. They put all their hope and effort on the next big thing (SEO, social media, a ‘big ad’, an app) and ignore the host of other things they need to be doing.

To top it off, many businesses wait till sales are slow to really start focusing on marketing, making their jobs harder than ever.

Over twenty years of successful marketing programs, I’ve found ‘marketing that delivers’ is really about regular experimentation, consistency when you do find decent results, and an ability to go back to the beginning when something that’s always worked stops working.  It’s often about doing what’s uncomfortable (picking up the phone, following up), continually seeking inspiration (not just from your competitors), taking risks, trying to make your product or service remarkable and working just a little harder and longer than everyone else.

So instead of looking for the silver bullet, recognise upfront that successful marketing is a cumulative effect of a number of activities and factors, some of which you’ll never have control over. So maintain the focus on the elements that you can control, like: building and keeping in touch with your database, developing relevant and exciting content, consistent seeking referrals, serving your customers well, building a great reputation, maintaining a presence and staying committed to a quality product or service.

An ongoing and consistent and creative marketing program is the real silver bullet.

Three things I didn’t know about Google Adwords campaigns (that you might also like to know)

I’ve been running (mostly small) Google AdWords campaigns for years now. I’ve been tinkering and testing and largely getting good results – but Google changes things all the time. Plus there’s always elements that I see and wonder what they are and never quite get around to learning about.

So I’ve been off at Google Engage Bootcamp for Agencies 101 – and it was well worth it. I’ve had many things reinforced but also learned quite a few things that I didn’t know (or hadn’t had the time to figure out!).

Here’s the three top-line items that bear repeating. If you already knew them, big ticks to you. If not, I hope you find them useful!

1. Taking back control over which ads Google displays

When you set up a few ads within a campaign, Google automatically starts to display one more than others quite quickly, basically serving a lot more of one advert than another. This always annoyed me as I couldn’t easily work out how to override it.

You can take back control within a campaign by looking at the bottom of ADVANCED SETTINGS, then scroll down to the bottom of the page look for “Ad Delivery” and then “Ad Rotation”…so it is quite tucked away!

This then gives you four options – one of which is automatic Google optimisation of your ads based on clicks which is the default setting.  But you can also elect to have it rotate evenly so YOU can decide what you want to turn off and on, rather than rely on the overly enthusiastic Google algorithm.

2. Negative keywords

I knew they existed but hadn’t ever used them. (If you don’t know what they are, they’re basically keywords you DON’T want to appear for). Turns out they are very simple to add. When you’re “adding” keywords, you just add a negative keyword (or phrase matches) all in the same spot.

So your keyword list might look like this:

Low budget marketing tips
Creative marketing tips
-pyramid selling
[zero budget marketing]

(The top two are broad match keywords, the third is your negative keyword you don’t want to appear for and the final one is an exact match).

3. You can track ‘conversions’ inside AdWords – and it reports different results to Analytics

I was of the mistaken belief that goals had to be tracked in Analytics – no, you can set up goals in AdWords too. And they will give you different results. AdWords will record a conversion for AdWords as the “conversion” is recorded within 30 days of the click, regardless of the LAST thing that was clicked to create the sale. Analytics will track up to a year but Analytics counts as the “converter” the LAST thing clicked prior to the sale.

To set up conversions, you click on the top menu “Tools and Analytics” and then “Conversions”. You then click an “Add conversions” button and you’ll usually be choosing “webpage”. Basically you get some code to add to the page you are tracking as a conversion (like a thank you page) and then you can track your conversions.

What is marketing strategy? And more importantly – what ISN’Tmarketing strategy?

A term I regularly hear used and abused is “marketing strategy”. Most people, even smart business and/or marketing people, use it incorrectly.

The most common error is that people use “strategy” when they mean “tactics” or “campaign”. Many also seem to think a strategy needs to be hugely complex, or delivered in a language that’s so hard to comprehend it would make the management consultants on House of Lies look plainspoken. And marketing textbooks tend to give long definitions that can leave you scratching your head.

So here’s my ‘line in the sand’ on marketing strategy:

Good marketing strategy – What it is:

- A clear direction for how you’ll be working to achieve your objectives
- Something that ultimately can be summarised to a page (or better still, a paragraph)
- A brave or bold choice that you need to stick with for AT LEAST a year
- Something that all your tactical marketing activities must tie back to
- Articulates what’s special or different about your business (or how you’re going to become special or different) 

Good marketing strategy – What it isn’t:

- A goal (your strategy is how imagine you’ll reach your goal)
- A bunch of tactical activities on a calendar. You need these too, but that’s a marketing action plan, not a strategy.
- A lot of big and waffly words
- Only about the size of your budget
- Something you can ask someone to define for you, or make a firm recommendation about, after a brief meeting!

Glad I got that off my chest…