Low-cost Marketing: Fact or Crap?

I love these kind of marketing mythbusters posts, so let’s play a game of “Low-Cost Marketing: Fact or Crap?

NO cost marketing is a myth. Fact.

Low cost marketing is a fantasy. Crap.

Google loving, phone jingling, signing-on-the dotted-line salesplosions just because you ran one ad for next to nothing. Epic Crap. Smells.

There is effective, quality marketing that’s affordable for small business. Fact.

Time VS Money

Whether it’s yours or mine, Gary Vaynerchuck is right about time being a valuable commodity.

If you have nothing but time, you can get up at 5 every morning, go to bed after midnight and work during your lunch hours. If not, then that time still has to be “spent,” money going out to marketing. You have to decide on what to spend it: advertising, public relations, social media, online marketing. Wisely.

Waste not

You need the Yellow Pages display ad. Crap. With a catch.

According to statistical experts, 98% of homes and consumers have Internet access. And 100% of those users you know, have money and buy shit.*

When was the last time you searched the phone book online even, much less the thud book? When was the last time your customers did? Certain service industries, plumbers, lawyers, or certain specialists like HVAC possibly get good returns from their yellow page ads. But a small business with limited marketing funds should think practically about ROI, the cost of that display ad vs. more money in SEO, in social media, in email marketing.

Social media is a MUST for everyone. Crap.

You fish where the fish are biting. If not you might get a nice tan or sunburn and enjoy the cold beer, but you’ll be looking for your dinner elsewhere.

If NO ONE searches on Facebook, if NO ONE reads blogs in your community, is NO ONE watches a video about your industry, maybe social isn’t where you should fish. But odds are that rarely happens, so you really do have to weigh the risk vs. reward. It’s about finding the right networks, where your fish ARE social; maybe LinkedIn or a forum instead of Twitter.

Social media is FREE. And Easy. Anyone can blog. So many social media myths are crap.

Quality design costs too much money. Crap. Here, LMGTFY.

You need a website. Fact.

Don’t care if you’re an independent consultant, run a service business from your car, have a store on a major intersection, you should have even a 1-page website. Why? SEO as fish have learned to surf the Internets.

You can’t afford marketing. Crap.

Does Apple really need to advertise their techno goodies, sparking lust in the heart of technogeeks like myself? No but then, it’s as much about branding and position, investors and PR as it is about driving sales.

You can’t afford NOT to market your business, even if you do it yourself. Fact.

There are low-cost marketing ideas that small business owners can do for themselves or can affordably outsource.

Any other marketing myths? Please bust them in the comments.

* Totally made up. But I bet it’s true.

Photo credit: Have that game, been meaning to make some friends and play it someday.

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28 thoughts on “Low-cost Marketing: Fact or Crap?

  1. I love the way you write… So blunt and upfront! That’s right, everyone can blog, even the net novices. I use linkedin, Twitter, fb and wordpress to get the word out about my work. I create media ( video and photography ) for marketing. Dominantly for travel and destination marketing campaigns. So it’s easy to target my market through social media. I say just try it. It does take a while and you have to invest the time as you say, but it is free and you can build a reputation for your business.
    Shane White recently posted..WSCreativeMedia- RT @NatGeoTraveler- The magical sandscapes of Brazil are no mirage- http-onnatgeocom-dXEeTB via @NatGeoSociety

    1. I disagree with the “FREE” Shane on the basis that time IS money. Putting in the time, learning how to make videos, how to use LinkedIn and Twitter.. takes reading, listening, time to learn how to do it all well, do it effectively. That’s a significant investment IMO, that precious time. But then yes, once you do .. there are very affordable ways to promote a business, build reputation. Glad you like my style, thanks so much.

  2. Davina, you are a genius 🙂

    Even if I hadn’t learned anything from this post (and I believe I DID), I learned about this cool thing LMGTFY. I mean, where did you find that!?

    Anyway, to stop screaming in everyone’s ears here, I just want to say you are completely right and although some old school marketers probably didn’t like it – the world changed.

    So these tips are something everyone should print out, stick it next to their computers and read every time they try to find excuse to do something about marketing!
    Brankica recently posted..50 Traffic Sources You Should Milk Like Crazy

    1. Exactly Brankica, it’s not so much busting myths as the excuses. No money or not knowing where to spend it, no reason for those excuses when you’re fingers can do the clicking. Research data and affordable marketing tactics are out there, just takes the time/talent to find them, know how to use them. ‘No school like the old school’ still applies, but it’s the old school of providing personalized service, doing more for the customer, treating them like people, not a CC number, etc.

      IIRC I discovered LMGTFY a couple years ago, I just LOVE that.. genius, pure genius. Thanks. 😉

    1. That’s a home run Jenn. Like I just replied to Bill, big difference in doing marketing, doing SM and PR.. and doing it right, doing it successfully.

      Here’s an example, anyone can take a picure. I can take my camera go photograph something, a pro can take the same camera, shoot the same subject and just blow my pictures away b/c that pro know what the hell he/she is doing, knows how to set up a shot, find the best angle to tell a story.

  3. Hi Davina
    Great title got my attention and the content wasn’t bad either. LOL

    The key line in this post is…

    “Whether it’s yours or mine, Gary Vaynerchuck is right about time being a valuable commodity.”

    And most of us have to weigh the time spent on “self help” marketing, against the rewards.
    That’s probably why I don’t bother with social media – just can’t afford the time.

    Good to hear “Social media is a MUST for everyone. Crap.”
    So much hype out there about SM so it’s good to get your opinion.

    I’m off now to “fish where the fish are biting” hopefully. LOL
    Keith Davis recently posted..Surfing the video wave

    1. Thanks Keith.. the headline is my attempt at both SEO friendly AND naturally eye-catching. We’ll see.

      Liked Gary’s video and see that Simon quote about information overload, the scarcity of attention referenced quite a bit; time is money, it is finite and one of the most precious and therefore valuable things we have to give.

      Hiring a PRO can actually save money on things you do have to get done. You don’t waste money on bad projects, pros help you spend that money wisely on what will get better returns. I’ve done a few events in my day.. hotel bookings, food and beverage plans, vendor; a pro can often negotiate better deals b/c we know where to look to save money. FWIW.

      1. Thanks Davina
        A quick aside on the choice of headlines.

        Most of us try to use headlines which are as you say “…SEO friendly AND naturally eye-catching.”

        But it’s not always easy and you end up falling between two stools.

        What I do now is use an eye catching headline initially and when the comments start to dry up, change it to an SEO keyword rich headline.

        For my theme the hreadline is an H1 tag so you can change it and no harm done.

        BTW – I came over via Marcus Sheridan’s praise of your site.
        High praise indeed.
        Keith Davis recently posted..Surfing the video wave

        1. Praise from Marcus is high praise indeed. (Thanks Marcus, check’s in the mail.)

          On the headline, I’ve heard of useing good headlines at first, then switching to SEO friendly .. thanks for the tip Keith. I also go ahead, set my URL/permalinks to be headline/SEO/keyword friendly if I can. I’m still trying to master the backend tactics; I have AllinOneSEO but don’t really know how to use it, think it’s something I set manually and.. for that I gotta get over my laziness, figure out SEO/keyword strategies for posts, all that technobabble.

  4. Davina,

    I loved this post. To me the best marketing actually is low cost. A matter of fact it is free. Just like any other business, word of mouth is your best marketing strategy. If you provide a great value and something unique people will talk about it and that is the best advertising you could get. Now please don’t get me wrong I am not so naive that I think that is all it will take to be successful but I know that it is the best free option. It is also the slowest option unless you get an A-lister to talk about what you have to offer. Do you think I can get Oprah to endorse my site? 🙂 Outstanding post and very good insight into low cost marketing. Thanks!
    Frank recently posted..Nothing is Impossible

    1. That’s the example I use Frank: great product and service, something cool people will talk about, WOM. My catch that, that is Apple and you ain’t Apple. 😉 Good point about it being the slowest option, taking time to build and develop; in this world where time really does equal money, can’t always afford to wait. Thanks for stopping by.

  5. Brilliant ! I love straight talking, shoot from the hip blogging.

    I’ll play:

    Business blogging is easy – just hand it to the intern. Crap!
    We’ll just set it up on wordpress.com, write a couple of short posts and conquer the world and sell stuff. Crap!
    Facebook Pages, that we update sporadically, will help us show who we are and make us really approachable. Crap!

    I could go on…

    1. Well done Jon. So to riff off of yours:

      We can get a cheap intern to automate it. Set it and forget it. Crap.
      We can buy followers and likes for next to nothing. Sadly fact.
      Those bought followers and likes will help us conquer the Internet world and sell stuff. Phew.. CRAP.
      We should constantly tweet and update FB with nothing but ads promoting ourselves, that’s what social media is all about. Crap.
      A well trained intern, with clear supervision and guidance can assist in routine functions per the companies researched, strategic social media marketing plan. Fact.

      That’s the one I read about Jon, handing it all over to the intern. And when it’s an intern or low-level staffer who makes the mistake, then it’s the intern thrown under the bus. Huh? Supervision much? Internships are about learning on the job, not just a cheap pool of expendable labor. Interns are there to take the routine, mundane off the desks of those busy supervisors, to review Google alert reports, monitor @mentions to see which require replies, etc.. not to do it all without supervision based upon the plan. Thanks for playing.

  6. Hi Davina,

    FUN POST. A little pot stirring and a lot of challenge to the status quo. I loved it!

    One thing you mentioned that stood out to is:
    “You fish where the fish are biting. If not you might get a nice tan or sunburn and enjoy the cold beer, but you’ll be looking for your dinner elsewhere.”

    EVERYONE says social media is for everyone. I think it’s a platform that can be used by many – but I don’t think it’s a must for all.

    Thanks for the knowledge Davina!

    1. THANK YOU JK! I mix it up all the time on the myth about social media, esp. about Facebook. Sure for a big brand I may expect a FB presence but if no one uses it, no one reads it.. but boy are they active at a GeeksRUs forum, well then that’s where TechnoToys needs to be.

      I get its value, the SEO, inbound marketing. But it’s work to do it well, to get it right and convert those links and interest into followers, influencers, brand advocates and paying customers. You can’t set it and forget it, so I still think businesses who are not social should yes, maintain an overall web presence, but invest in those initiatives that will give the return. FWIW.

  7. Hi Davina,

    I like your style! LMGTFY 😀

    “You fish where the fish are biting. If not you might get a nice tan or sunburn and enjoy the cold beer, but you’ll be looking for your dinner elsewhere.” – Wise words, right there. Everything depends… depends on your business, on what you’re marketing, who and where your potential customers are, and YOU.

    Thanks for the ejoyable/valuable read, Davina.

    Peggy Baron recently posted..Internet Marketing Milestones – My Results Writing and Selling PLR

    1. Nice to see you here Peggy. I think I am clever and YMMV is one of my little faves: your mileage may vary. 😉 It does all depend, so many variables. I’m trying to FIND those waters, looking for my fish.

      Another variable I love to share FWIW, myth busting exceptions:

      My local wine/liquor store is on busy intersection, big store, easy to find, and an always in demand product.. doing just fine with NO website as I can find. Exception.

      Consumers are out there buying stuff in a down economy, just ask Apple. Not much “required” social media activity, save some automated Twitter feeds, etc. They’ve found where the fish bite by creating their own waters. Exception.

    1. Sorry for the late reply Marcus (spam blocker fail as you know) but WORD to the ‘one-size-fits-all’ is CRAP.

      Are you fishing for bass or trout or big game out in the Gulf, what’s the ratio of bait to catches you need? I can beat this analogy to death .. thanks for playing.

  8. Davina, whooooaaah! As Lori said, my head is spinning. And I still have the residual silly grin from laughing so hard when I clicked LMGTFY! Indeed, I’ve stopped reading and started skimming and discarding hundreds articles and ebooks that don’t qualify claims like these. I’m happy to say I’ve gotten this far without perpetuating these myths (even when I believed them), but it’s so easy to believe them.

    My background in marketing was as much online as in print, but I resisted social media for years. I only joined Twitter two years ago, and only became active about 6 months ago. When I did, I learned and unlearned so many of these myths I’m exhausted. But what I have held on to throughout is what you’ve said: “You can’t afford NOT to market your business,” and “there is effective, quality marketing that’s affordable for small business.” FACTS. As a freelancer, I have to make decisions for both my own small business and others every day. Doing it smart without falling for hype is hard without a guide, but certainly doable, if you just take the time to Google :).

    And how did you do that, by the way, the LMGTFY?
    Shakirah Dawud recently posted..More Blog Posts You May Have Missed

    1. It’s the site Shakirah. Let Me Google That For You. You type in a search, hit the button then it gives you that link… so you can make everyone else feel like lazy idiots for not Googling it themselves. 😉

      I probably should have linked to a few more posts but these claims are also my opinions and as such, I know there will be different experiences per these strategies. But I mean.. a website is what $60 a year to host, WordPress is FREE, just takes some time. Not having a website is almost like not having a phone number and hell, a website gives you that business email address vs. a personal or Gmail account (a perception peeve of mine).

      Glad you liked the post, many thanks for the comment.

  9. Davina,
    My head is spinning reading this! I don’t think I can add to it, but I’m learning from it.

    I do agree that there needs to be a value placed on your time. The more time I spend in the blogosphere, the more time I spend in the blogosphere. It’s like going to a party and continuously meeting great people! After a while you don’t want to leave! So its a good thing there is plenty of advice here on how to organize your time! LOL

    Have a good one!
    Lori Gosselin recently posted..Overwhelmed- How to Push Your Reset Button

    1. Fantastic analogy or metaphor or whatever it’s called Lori! This is like a party, meeting fun people.. and it’s b/c it’s a party of our own choosing. We decide. We friend and follow those with similar interests, who think or write in ways we like or respect, those who challenge, motivate, entertain us. It’s fun, so we don’t want to leave. (I may totally have to blog on this one, hmmm…. with due credit of course!)

      I am trying to better prioritize my days, limit my reading and commenting to certain shifts, but of course miss out on a lot of good posts that way I am sure. No way to do it all. One thing I do, is if it’s at all client related.. that’s straight to the top of the pile. There are days my personal emails and RSS readers go unchecked until the evening, if it missed the early morning shift. FWIW.

      1. Did Lori Gosselin say party? I wanna go; please don’t leave without me…..

        Time is definitely money and it is very easy to get pulled into this world of social media. You start down one path and then it branches out and off you go again. When it’s all said and done, are you better off than when you started? Did you accomplish anything? And ultimately, did anyone pay me while I was here?

        Unfortunately a lot of corporations trim marketing/PR when revenues start to drop. I’m of the firm belief this is when you really need to maintain your presence and let the pros help you do it.

        Every once in awhile you will be surprised, but most times you get what you pay for. Establish value in every relationship and you typically don’t have to worry about cost.

        I like the fish biting analogy; my kids hated to go fishing with me because I could never get them on the ‘spot’ but perfectly content to just chill. Of course that never lasted long and once in the mountains we went to a place where you ‘pay’ to fish and they got me back. They were pulling trout out of the stream left and right; how can trout cost $100……………….:)

        Good post Cajun; geaux Tigers………
        Bill Dorman recently posted..Hey- I can hear you I’m standing right here

        1. Bayou Bengals Bill!

          I am loving all this social networking, making connections and learning so much.. makes me better at my job even if there isn’t a paycheck at the end of it. That said, it’s gaining traction, building credibility, referrals and of course, I’m looking for that stream where the fish hit left and right.

          I too believe in outscourcing to pros, big diff in getting it done vs. getting it done well, right. Consultation, training, advice and sometimes, yes execution but always with participation of the client; Not a fan of brands just turning over social presence to outsiders w/ out any oversight.

          And the fish story.. figured that was more relatable than crabbing. Most people probably wouldn’t get how my grandparents had to hold us down to get us impatient little kids from checking the nets every 3 minutes. 😉

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