Clever pre-launch marketing tactic – Register to win

lofree pre launch marketing

This new keyboard appeared on my Pinterest feed and was so super cute, I immediately clicked to learn more. It’s a keyboard designed to look – and sound – like an old-school typewriter. I must have one…

Turns out the product is yet to be released – and whoever is in charge of marketing it is as good at their job as the designer who came up with this product. It’s getting excellent social exposure already, with that social driving people to their site…where it’s not yet for sale.

The purpose of the site, however, is to build their email database. So that when they ARE ready to launch, they’ve got an opt-in audience keen to hear and buy. As you land at the site, you’re prompted to put in your email and be notified when the product is available to buy.


And just in case you weren’t super keen to leave your email, they’ve even incentivised it – sign up and you could WIN one of 20. Needless to say, I left my email!

It’s a little like a Kickstarter approach, where you ensure there’s a pre-paid marketing for your product before you actually make it.

There’s real zero budget marketing merit in building an audience to market to before launch. Essentially, it means you’re not paying for access to someone else’s audience! It’s also a chance to gauge interest (as so if you’re still at manufacturing stage, you can potentially order more) and even experiment with marketing messages and imagery.

This approach is a reminder that a ‘launch’ doesn’t need to be conducted one way. The design and presentation of this product is also a reminder that a special or stand-out product needs less ‘marketing’ than and copycat/me too product. People are going to want to spread the word – the best and cheapest form of marketing.

Thanks to lofree for providing some unintended marketing inspo – and please release your keyboard soon because I want it…badly!


To pop up, or not pop up, that is the question

The challenge with most marketing is that you’re dealing with clients or bosses who say to you “I don’t like that” or “That annoys me” when you recommend a tactic. The “pop up box” encouraging sign ups on a website is one of these tactics that can be hard to convince people of. Because they are a bit annoying. They also work.

I’ve successfully implemented a pop up box now several times. Each time, it has immediately driven increased list sign up – and increased conversions. Despite sharing these experiences, it can still be hard to convince people. So I was pleased to see this new research report of 400 online retailers that pretty definitively shuts down the argument.

According to a recent study by email marketing firm Listrack, pop-ups can help retailers nearly double the rate at which they sign up consumers to receive marketing email. A pop up that includes an incentive, like a percentage off offer, results in an average list increase over a year of a whopping 47.8%!

I haven’t ever gotten a 50% bump. But I have achieved a 20-30% bump. It works best when you have an incentive – both in the box and on the thank you page (and ideally the follow up email with the chance to offer something like an upsell). It’s the ideal zero budget marketing tactic – beyond a little bit of form design, you’re spending nothing at all to increase your marketing effectiveness!

So if you don’t have a pop up box on your website to capture visitors that don’t buy, you’re wasting an opportunity. That opportunity is building your database so that you have a chance to convert visitors later. A sad fact of eCommerce and other websites is that we only convert a small fraction of visitors to buyers. So why not try and capture information of engaged visitors to try and convince them later.

And if you’re left wondering still what a pop up box is…here’s a few examples I’ve come across recently that might help with increasing sign ups to your own website.

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 3.01.07 pm Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 2.51.10 pm Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 2.52.37 pm Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 2.58.39 pm

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…

Do you have a call to action ON EVERY WEB PAGE?

What do you want a website visitor to do at the end of each page they read?

You will want them to read another page, sign up to an email newsletter, contact you, like you on facebook or even buy from you!

But do you ask them to DO this?

If your website isn’t brand new, you probably haven’t looked at it critically in a long time. Not only will there be out of date information, there will likely be a better way to say much of what you’ve written and you’ll find a call to action is probably missing from most pages.

You might argue that you’ve got buttons or links people can use to “buy now”. But why make it hard for your visitors? Why not take them on a journey; tell them where to go next from each page and what they should do. You might keep them engaged just that little bit longer, which gives you just enough time to ‘convert’ them.

You need a call to action in ALL of your marketing communications (just like the fabulous zero budget marketing sign in the picture) and your website is no different. Each and every page of your website is a piece of marketing communication. Make sure you ASK people to do something on all pages, not just the promotional articles.

So put your marketing web audit in your diary now. Not exciting, not glamorous – but it will be effective.

How to stop your flyer being thrown away

This little piece of zero budget marketing gold comes our way via a somewhat battered, self delivered, produced on a home printer with no graphic design, flyer from a local electrician. It hit my mailbox, amongst the bills, rare letter and catalogues that are usually there.

So what makes this little flyer worth talking about? After giving it a quick glance, I DIDN’T throw it out.
It survived the “chuck test” and made it onto my fridge, then my metre box.


It told me not to throw it out, and gave me a reason.

At the bottom of the flyer it said:

“Dont throw this away. Put it in your metre box in case you ever need an electrician in an emergency.”

So simple, but effective. If , like many people, you don’t have your own electrician of speed dial, this makes so much sense that I felt compelled to follow the flyers instructions.

This is what good marketing should be. A potential solution to a problem-and often a problem you didn’t realize you had!

This electrician got this. That it isn’t about spending a tones on design and delivery if you don’t have the message right.

It also shows that “unaddressed delivery”, the cheapest of “direct mail” ( you can letterbox drop yourself or pay Australia post around 13-14 cents an item) can get a result. Not every time, and perhaps only when I have an electrical fault, but with a clever enough message, it’s a zero budget marketing winner.

How to use time limits to generate sales

It’s human nature NOT to want to miss out. I have a friend that uses a perfect phrase to sum this up: FOMO (fear of missing out).

You can tap into this “fear” when marketing, by creating scarcity. Whether it’s a limited number of items, or a strictly limited time, you create a sense of urgency with those you’re marketing too. It’s perfect for marketing events (only 17 seats left!) but it can be used much more broadly also.

I subscribe to updates from a fashion site, Igigi. They’ve taken this to heart and they run semi-regular 6 hour sales. How do I know this works for them? Because they keep doing it! As a test case of 1, I would click to see what’s on sale at least 50% of the time, despite the fact I’ve yet to ever buy from them.

Virgin Blue have a similar tool, although it’s even shorter and more regular. They have “happy hour” bookings from 12-1pm on a weekday.

So the zero budget marketing tip for today is to consider – what can you create scarcity around to drive short term sales results?

ps. Just come across another great time limited promotion on a craft education blog, Blacksburg Belle. I had an email prompting it at 1.30am (as it’s a US site) and when I clicked on to learn more at 7am, the “10 places only” offer was filled. So more evidence of time limited/space limited offers being effective.

Quick lead generation tip – how to find the right contact to call

A key element of marketing for many businesses will be sales and business development. How do you find the right person to contact? Often people buy or rent lists. The problem with this for the zero budget marketer is that lists (a) cost a lot of money and (b) have large minimums, which leave you with hundreds of names when you just wanted 15-20 to start with.

One tip: Sniff out the “right” person to contact using searches on social networking sites like LinkedIn. You can search by a job title and you will usually find a few people pop up! Then you can contact the company and at least know the right person to ask to speak to.

Other ideas (that I’ve tested and used) include:
Asking your friends if they know anyone in a particular space.
Asking others you know at a company who the right person is.
Or call the reception of the organisation you’re targeting and ask “who’s in charge of XXX?” and more than half of the time, they’ll tell you! Then call back a day or two later and ask for the person by name.

Of course, this is just the start. You’ll often end up on voice-mail but, if you have a relevant offering, and leave regular, friendly messages, you’ll often find you’ll eventually get a call back. If nothing else, if you’re pleasant about it, people start to feel guilty around the 4th or 5th message (I’m speaking from experience – both from the selling and the “pitched to” side of the equation). Persistence pays off if you’re contacting the right person.

A call back is not a sale – but it’s closer than you were before.

The key point here, too, is that you have to call. Sales training expert Sue Barrett speaks of “call reluctance” being the biggest factor if people not getting a sale. Not that a prospect isn’t interested. Not that you have a bad product or service. People don’t get the sale because they don’t want to pick up the phone in the first place. A sobering thought & a call to action, all at the same time!

How to turn free subscribers into buyers

When people get to your website, there should be multiple ways to engage with you. They can obviously BUY from you, but what else can they do?

At the very least, they should be able to sign up for alerts or further information. (This is a pretty basic step that MANY sites miss, but that’s not what this post is about).

Once they’ve left their email, your business is then in a position to communicate to those who’ve opted in to receive email from you; with the hope of converting them down the line.

But can you fast track this newsletter subscription to an immediate sale? The good news is yes!

Someone who’s just subscribed for a news update is already expressed real interest in your brand. They’re really a hot lead. After they sign up, subscribers should be taken to the “thank you” page. To convert some of these people to buyers, PUT AN OFFER on this thank you page. After all, these people have demonstrated they’re interested in you already – so why not try dangle a carrot to get them to make that last step.

But will this work?

I’ve recently put this into practice with a client to test its effectiveness. It’s generating an average of a 7% conversion rate every month! And this client is selling is a service that isn’t geographically available to many people, so I know this would be higher for a product or service that could be bought by anyone.

This is not only a great zero budget marketing tip – there’s no additional cost, you’re just improving on an existing process – it just makes good general marketing sense. Anyone can offer this and get a return. So why don’t you?

(Thanks for the inspiration for this tip needs to go to James Tuckerman at Australian Anthill, who wrote an article explaining how he’d done this for his own site a while ago – I now can’t find the article though!)

Local marketing tip for opening a new cafe – generating $1000 in sales from a $10 investment

Local marketing can be both easy AND hard. Easy because you have a nice, geographically designed area to target. Hard because if you can’t find a way to influence or entice that market, you’re in some serious trouble.

I’m a big proponent of the free trial- giving your product away with the confidence that if it’s good, people will come back for more.

Nashi is a cafe franchise in Melbourne – great sandwiches by the way. They’re moving into a new location near a client of mine, and they’ve done two very smart things.

1. They identified larger businesses in the “zone” they’ll be opening in and delivered a box of free food – per floor – to each. (They didn’t have anything IN the box about the store opening, my recommendation would have been to do this too).

2. They’ve managed to get the company to put a $5 gift voucher offer out by the company to all staff members, which also communicates when they’re opening. I’ve included this in the image.

This isn’t a totally zero budget example, but the whole exercise would have likely been $1-$2000 in product to reach hundreds of prospective customers. And they’ve ensured that all their potential target market knows the type of food, when they’ll be opening, and what is in it for the customer to come in early ($5 voucher).

So let’s say it costs $10 to reach each potential customer. But this campaign will immediately pay for itself. And the beauty of a cafe is that it isn’t a single sale. A loyal customer will return several times a week, if not every day. The annual value of a sandwich and coffee purchase twice a week is around $1000 PER PERSON. The lifetime value is going to be somewhere between $2000-$10,000 per person.

Suddenly a few free muffins and a $5 voucher looks like a pretty cheap idea, doesn’t it?!

This promotion look a bit of legwork no doubt, but is a great example of a zero budget marketing promotional idea.