How to get more subscribers (or everyone still loves a giveaway)


Social media is a key tool for many businesses. Even if it’s something you struggle to ‘monetise’, you usually need to be on at least one channel for relevance, customer communications or just to get noticed. Posting, and engaging, on social media takes time. So you want to be talking to as many (relevant) people as possible. So what happens if you’ve got no-one following? No friends, so to speak? How do you get more subscribers?

Buying followers is just plain stupid, imho. You don’t want ‘fake’ friends – in real life or your social media audience. They’re irrelevant followers. What you want is people specifically interested in YOUR product or service. So how do you find them?

I’ve successfully used this same tactic, over and over, across multiple brands – and it works every single time.

It’s simple – and very, very cost-effective (which we zero budget marketers love!).

So what is this tactic? It’s two-part.

(1) You run a giveaway. (2) You make ‘tag a friend’ an element of the mechanism of entering.

But giveaways are a dime-a-dozen, right? They’re over, aren’t they? Oh no, my friend. Because everyone still loves a giveaway. A chance of something for nothing. A little ‘win’ in life without too much effort. It’s something you can use to build a potential customer database pre-launch, drive engagement – or help build your social media audience.

The bonus being: If you give away YOUR product, then the only people who will want to enter are those interested in YOUR product. By asking people to tag a friend, you’re getting onto a new person’s radar. And if they like what they see, they will follow you too (about 50% of the time, in my experience).

I recently ran a competition where the prize value was $129 (a new release pen – the true cost of the pen to the business was half this). I then spent $100 to boost on Facebook.

The post reach was 14,000 people. Facebook competition garnered 95 shares, 333 likes, 150 entries (via a comment response + a friend tag). Total new followers for the page was 250 people in a few days.

So the investment was $164.50. And I now have 250 more people who’ve CHOSEN to like the page – so 250 interested followers – for this very small investment. About 65 cents per person for a real live ‘good friend’ who’s interested in the products and decided to follow the page of their own volition.

So, as a zero budget marketing idea, remember: competitions are a marketer’s friends and that everyone loves the idea of something for nothing. So using a giveaway is a great tool to help you get more subscribers – for social media or your email database.





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…

10 Steps on How to Create an Effective Content Calendar for Social Media

Handing over the ZBM blogging reigns today to the savvy gals at Fox Marketing, to share their thoughts on how to create an effective content calendar for social media.

Social media marketing can be challenging for marketers and those who are into branding their products and businesses. Social media networking sites are filled with tons of information, therefore, social media strategy needs to be thoroughly planned and carefully executed.

The most common mistake that eager marketers commit is overlooking the significance of two important elements of the strategy: content and timing. Sometimes, they do have the content but the timing is totally out of place. Establishing a clear and concrete social media calendar that contains content and timing is a great tool to make things easier for your social media strategy. Your goal here is to maximize your return on investment and create another revenue generating channel.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to create a smart and effective content calendar for your social media management.

Step #1. To establish your editorial calendar, determine first the type of content you want to share on your different social media platforms.

Step #2. Create a spreadsheet where you can put all the details needed for your content. This will serve as your framework for your social media management.

Step #3. In your newly created file be sure to add different sheets for different social media platforms. All the important points should be covered for each platform: topic/themes; type of content; keywords/tags; audience; goal; target dates; status of post; and, time to publish content.

Step #4. Add to your calendarlocal events, holidays, and other relevant activities. It is important that you update these details for each social media platform.

Step #5. Use your calendar to plan your marketing initiatives in advance.Remember, you are building your online presence. Brainstorm and select post ideas whichare more likely to engage with your audience.

Step #6. Incorporate visual effects on your posts to make them more compelling and engaging.  In your content calendar make a note of image locations to find them later.

Step #7. Think about timing. It is crucial for your posts to be effective. Record your preferred time of the day for each social media post.

Step #8. Include freebies and other special incentives or discounts. These help your existing audience stay hooked and can also draw new fans. So, offering these in social networks is a good way to generate more fans or followers. Make sure you add all giveaways to your calendar and prepare for higher engagement levelsfrom your fans.

Step #9. Evaluate how your audience responds to your content when you publish it. You will know which is effective and which needs adjusting or modification. Record all details in your social media calendar. It is very important to keep track of all your findings. This will help you to achieve better results in the future.

Step #10. Plan for interaction. Just because you have published several posts does not immediately mean your audience is now willing to buy something from you. These things do not happen with a snap of your fingers. Engage yourself with your audience, answer their queries, and acknowledge their comments. In other words, interact with them. They’ll get that picture that you and your brand or products have credibility.

With proper social media calendar, your business will have the boost it needs. This is your gateway to level up your brand on social media. Be consistent, persistent, and look for ways to fine-tune your marketing strategies when necessary.  

Today’s post by Fox Marketing:
Fox Marketing is a young vibrant Marketing Agency. From user friendly website design to innovative search engine marketing and social media, it provides end-to-end digital marketing services that can deliver results. Fox Marketing website:

Why email is still the ‘killer app’

In the marketing space all we seem to hear about is social media. And social media is great – for spreading the word, spreading awareness, getting engagement, sharing information.

But when it comes to conversions, email is still the killer app.

I experience it time and again when marketing for clients. So I wasn’t surprised when I came across this research recently, that showed the conversion rate for email marketing was three times that of social media.

There are other reasons I still heart email as a marketing tool:

– YOU own the list
– It goes to an inbox (and stays there till deleted)
– You can be much more flexible with content
– You can segment your list
– You can do do some fancy (but easy) automation these days– like RSS to email so that updating your blog sends an email too.
– It’s cheap (dear to a zero budget marketing heart)

What I was a little surprised about was how many emails are now read on mobile devices –

Nearly 38% of all email opens occurring in mobile devices.

In the last year, emails opened on mobile devices more than doubled, and have increased 80% in the last six months alone. And they are only being opened once, not scanned on the phone/tablet and answered later on a computer.

This has big implications for you email design and testing.

For me it meant that you should stick to one column design, have multiple calls to actions that are easy to spot on a small screen, send tests to your phone too, keep images down to a minimum…and make sure the links are going to your mobile friendly site.

Do you see any other implications?

How to Tuesday: Networking tips for business events

Networking is the NUMBER ONE “zero budget marketing” tool.

I have been “teaching” people how to network for many, many years. It was a weird concept for me initially – I was a good networker, but breaking down what I did was difficult. Can something that comes naturally to some be taught to others? The answer is…of course! But it just means some of us will have to try a little harder to master it than others.

It also felt a little “dirty”, the whole “networking” thing, until I distilled it down to what I REALLY think good networking is about:

Look for a chance to GIVE before you RECEIVE … thereby earning the right to ask a favour (at some point in the future).

Giving before receiving isn’t as hard as it sounds – it can be small things – from talking to the shy person at an event, to giving a compliment, sharing information you come across, passing on a lead, or even suggesting a great book/article/blog.

So once you approach networking with this mindset, it feels a lot more natural. If you go in desperately ‘wanting’, you’ll put people off – desperation and need is as large a put-off as a blatant sales pitch.

Once you get to a networking event though, what should you actually do? And almost as importantly, what shouldn’t you do?


  • Get there a little early-and stay right to the end. Introduce yourself to the host if you can. And if you have the opportunity, explain why you’re there. They can often point you in the right direction.
  • Go with a plan. How many people are you going to try to speak to? One or several? Are you just going to try and meet the presenter perhaps? Or the event organiser? Are you going to see how others network? Would you like to connect with potential collaborators? (Note: In a half hour time allocation for networking, you would only expect to speak PROPERLY to 2-3 people.)
  • Listen for commonality in conversations, and give some information about yourself when you speak. Networking, like any social interaction, is about finding some common ground to help drive the conversation or connection. Networking events are not the time to be quiet or hold back! Similarly, they are not the time to only talk about yourself. Ask a LOT of questions and you’ll find networking a lot easier, and more revealing.
  • Have business cards – and a pen handy. The pen is to write on the cards you receive, to remind yourself of how you met them or any relevant follow up. The business cards are to hand out IF you want to communicate with the person again. Don’t hand them out unless you’re prepared to be contacted.


  • Don’t hide in a corner, or surf Facebook, or text. Stand somewhere central, be open, catch people’s eyes. At business events people are there to speak, there to connect. Make it easy for them to connect with you.
  • Don’t only speak about work. Unless you’re a super -engaged, super-excited entrepreneur, most people’s key passion isn’t their work. They much prefer to speak about their weekends, hobbies, travel, families, what they really want to do for work, etc. If you’re looking for faster connections, don’t open with “what do you do?”. Instead ask what they’re hoping to get out of the event or what they did/plan to do on the weekend. You can get to the work part eventually, but it’s not the ideal conversation starter.
  • Don’t come unprepared to describe what you do if someone asks, or it does come up. You should have ready a means to explain your business/job in 2-3 sentences, without a bunch of jargon. Most people, on the spot, are AWFUL at explaining what they do. They give you very little – for example, a title only – or  waffle on and yet still leaves you wondering what they do / what’s special about what they do and how you can possibly say anything interesting about it.
  • Don’t forget to follow up. If you’ve taken a card, or have a name, send a quick follow up email, or a LinkedIn connection request. The whole point of networking is that it’s a LONG TERM proposition. 

Now…go forth and network!

PS. For the keen eyes, I know it’s not Tuesday. But I wanted to get this published for a friend that’s off to her first networking event tonight!

How to cut your marketing costs in 2013

Not all businesses have an allocated marketing budget. Some people just spend when ‘something’ comes up (ie. distressed ad space), some have no money to spend at all, while the budget of others are allocated an amount of percentage of sales.

If you do have some money to spend, odds are the amount is never quite enough. You may even find that the financial peeps are allocating you less this year in response to slow sales last year.

So what “zero budget” thinking can you apply to your budget this year, to make sure you get the absolute most from it?

1. Work out what you’re spending the most “time” on – and if it’s working, see if you can automate it.

The key to ‘zero budget’ is usually spending time over cash. So with time your most valuable resource, it’s something to be protected.

When I first starting working with carsharing business Flexicar, all new member ‘inductions” were done face-to-face. Whilst it was necessary to teach people how the service worked, it wasn’t sustainable to keep doing this. So instead we made a fun and useful video that “automatically” did the same job, and was actually more convenient for members. It instantly saved MANY hours, and that time could be spent in other ways to help grow the business.

2.  Work out what you’re spending the most “time” on – and if it’s not working, stop doing it. Make the tough call.

We all have our pet projects, or things we feel we “should” be doing. But if you are really not sure you’re getting a result, then it’s time to allocate that valuable time elsewhere.

For more thoughts, you can check out what I said in this recent Sydney Morning Herald / Age article.

Why making your written communication clear will save you money

A large element of Zero Budget Marketing is ensuring that any marketing you’re already doing, you’re doing as well as you can. Written communication is a key part of marketing that can have a huge impact – but is often “forgotten” once it is written.

I’ve come across several business in the past few weeks who are literally costing themselves money due to poorly considered written communications.

The worst offender was a conveyancer (legal representative who helps in the transfer of title when you buy a house). They charge a fixed fee for their conveyancing service, so it’s in their interest to speak to their clients as few times as possible during the process. Calls to them represents time, and they don’t charge by the call or their time. Yet every written letter and email from the conveyancer was extremely unclear. It didn’t outline what we needed to do, or what would happen next. So I always had to call or email to check.

None of the answers were something that couldn’t have been provided BEFORE I had to ask by including a “step by step” guide or an FAQ. Each one of those 8-9 calls or emails represented time wasted for that company.

So how can you avoid this?

It’s not that you never want to talk to clients or prospects, it’s that you only want to talk to them if you have to – otherwise you’re wasting their time too. The best way to “sanity check” your existing communications (website, email, standard letter) for clarity is to have someone that knows NOTHING about your field, or your business. Any questions they ask, any difficulty they have in understanding, will be a question someone else will have – so build it into your communications before they have to ask.

When I worked with Flexicar, which had thousands of members but a VERY small team, we had to take every opportunity to better educate “members” so that they wouldn’t need to call unless absolutely necessary. One little initiative was instituting an Invoice FAQ and a “How to understand your invoice” video. These two things cut calls to the accounts person in HALF.

So, just to take my own advice, here are the clear steps to checking your written communications aren’t costing your business money:

1. Identify a list of “public” written communications for new or existing customers (website, letters, invoices, statements, presentations, etc).

2. Have someone OUTSIDE your industry or business read them and note their questions. Or for a month, make a note of any questions you get asked by customers or prospects.

3. Make adjustments to these existing comms or create NEW comms to address the questions.

4. Track for improvements (reduced call volumes, for example).

5. Go and spend the time you save on other marketing initiatives!

Shout out to Seth – my marketing guru

Seth Godin is THE MAN.

There is something DAILY in his blog that has me nodding so vigorously in agreement that I’m in danger of neck strain. I keep telling people to read it. He’s very smart. He’s insightful in just a few words. I’m glad some people do – I just had an email from a friends thanking me for putting her onto him, he’s inspiring her daily.

From today’s:
“Want a bigger brand? Make bigger promises. And keep them.”

The day before:
“Unfair or not, one Catch-22 truism remains: popular is often a prerequisite for being popular.”

The day before that”
“Copy edit less, invent more
Give more speeches
Ignore unsolicited advice”

Thanks Seth for your daily dose of inspiration.

How could certain charities have profited from Steve Job’s death?

I was one of millions who was saddened when I learned of Steve Job’s. Not only do I dearly love my Macbook & ipad & iphone; but as an entrepreneur I LOVE that he was kicked out of the company he started, only to come back and save it years later: taking it to SERIOUS success and a case of ‘told you so’. Love it.

In the coverage of his demise, commentators did say that they expected awareness of pancreatic cancer to rise. In fact, the day of his death, Triple J featured an interview with a cancer researcher in their coverage of Steve’s death.
So I was fascinated to read this post from Hitwise about search traffic on pancreatic cancer – and what they identified as a failed marketing effort from cancer charities.

“Cancer Information received 77% of its traffic from paid links in the week preceding Steve Jobs death, whereas in the week ending 8 October 55% of clicks came from a paid link. This might well be as a result of the increased natural traffic coming through because of the rise in overall searches, but if search volumes were increasing, Macmillan could have increased its PPC spend proportionally in order to maintain its market share of visits. However, the drop in market share indicates that this was a missed opportunity for the cancer charities, who could have increased their PPC spend on key pancreatic cancer search terms to ensure they were grabbing searchers at this peak time of interest.”

Whilst rather macabre, their point is valid. Essentially is that in a “connected” online world, it’s time to colour outside the lines, hell, we are all living totally outside the lines.
There are real opportunities in being in touch with what your market / community is discussing and capitalising on this in your online marketing. Any big event, anything people are talking about, is a momentary chance to capture their attention.
So the zero budget marketing tip for today is to think creatively about HOW you can use big events to generate traffic and sales for your business’s website.
For example:
Massive storms predicted in the new – opportunity for roofers & plumbers (prepare or repair), video rental (stay safe inside), insurance (are you covered), etc.
PS. It could be that there’s opportunities in “small events” too. This post from lujure talks about a “weird trick” to generate traffic and sales from what people are talking about on Facebook. The author uses the example of dropping a phone into water being a good search term for a phone sales company. Follow the steps, it does actually work!