4 Inexpensive Ways of Marketing Your Own Business

by Chris Brown on Sunday, March 1, 2009

Looking for a low cost, or almost “no cost” way to market your business? If you’re just starting out or you’re running a business after coming home from your “real” job, you’ll be interested in the tools and techniques that Crystal uses to market her business.

Crystal Robinson, a Bodyshaping Consultant, is marketing her own business called “Slimmer Within” with a tag line “Experience the Magic.”

She also works a full time job as a Market Manager at a savings and loan company, but runs her own company during nights and weekends by holding “transformations” and doing direct sales.

How can she find the time to market her business? She does a lot of things right! She’s got several key marketing features of a direct sales business and she’s doing a great job with them:

  1. Website
  2. e-mail
  3. Promotions
  4. Business cards

How does she do all that?

She’s an intelligent business woman with a head for business and I suspect that she’s been given good direction by the manufacturer of her products. And she’s working the program. Let me explain.

Website: She used GoDaddy to buy her domain, host it and created a GoDaddy Website Tonight. Looks like she signed up for the 5 page plan with free hosting and email for $3.99 a month when you sign up for 3 years. It’s a simple website but it really does the trick for someone who needs an inexpensive web presence.

She has her phone number and email easily accessible from the website so it is easy for someone to contact her. The only way I can tell is that it’s a familiar template and the little GoDaddy symbol on the bottom of the page. My guess is there is a way to remove it, because I know Microsoft Live Office’s free website tool has a button to click to remove their logo as well.

Email:Also through GoDaddy. And I think it was set up recently because she didn’t print her email address on the business cards, but she made a point to tell me her address. Also her website says c 2009… We’re in the third month of 2009, but just barely.

Promotions: Her business cards say Bring a Friend and receive a free give & 30% off boutique purchase on the back. The card also has a date, time and location for a “transformation”. Anyone who has ever done direct selling knows that the only phrase that is more powerful than “Bring a Friend” for increasing sales is “Who do you know that would like to earn additional income?” for recruiting downlines.

Years ago it would have been called a party with party plans, but transformation where you lose 3 sizes in 10 minutes is pretty powerful! For those doing shows as a retail medium, calling it something besides a “party” is a good idea. And what woman could resist “transformation!”

Business Cards: She’s good at getting business cards into other people’s hands without saying “you need my product”. Friendly, happy and proud of her business, she’s got charisma when she hands them out saying you may know a friend who would be interested. I imagine her business will do well.

Her actual business card is very good for a “homemade” card. Since my company creates corporate identity as one of our services, I tend to be too critical. Very slight perforation ridges give away that these were printed on an inkjet or laser printer. Four color with a good layout and copy and before and after photos, either she’s really great with Microsoft Publisher or the manufacturer of the slimming garments provides good templates.

How to Improve On Her Marketing:
One tell-tale clue that her website and email are new: the www.slimmerwithin.com or crystal @ slimmerwithin.com does appear on the card, only her phone number. That’s the one area I would suggest that she change on her cards. Note: her email just bounced back to me… a flaw in her system. Hopefully just a temporary glitch.

In my opinion, Crystal Robinson has done a great job of getting her direct sales business launched. Can it be improved – of course, who can’t improve? But I think other direct sales consultants (or independent sales consultants as they are called now) could learn some strong, low cost marketing techniques from her!

To the direct sales consultants who read this blog: What other low cost tools do you use to market your business? Please leave a comment.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

BEN BLACKBURN March 27, 2010 at 4:54 am

Hi Chris,
This is a good general article for those who are getting started in business covers the main bases which are achivable with little investment other than time. It is good of you to donate your time!

To the point – I feel that there is an extremely valuable option in a multitude of ways. This is the teaming up with a local charity that is related in some way to the business sector that it satisfies. This is a great opportunity to get into the local community, her primary target market with very little cost (I feel no cost can not be achieved as time is always required to be invested and should be accounted for in order to measuring ROI return on investment, good practice for when you are involved in larger projects!)

However back to the topic, getting involved in a local, if possible or national charity related to the ultimate objective your product/service satisfies can be invaluble for getting free publicity with local press and radio and which is close to the customers heart as they are likely to have had/have similar issues. I would suggest a charity dealing with obesity/depression/eating disorders etc for your example above.

We work in association with the “healthy living team” promoting exercise and healthy eating, as our related sector is healthcare and nutrition

I must stress however that it is very important that you have a true interest in the support of the charity, not just for your own personal gain. If this is not the case then people will see through this and it will do more damage than good to the brand. Not to mention the ethical issues. if this is the case go for one you do feel is important to you it will make it easier to raise money and do the punishing things/situations you will be put in to get peoples hard earned cash!

It may be of benefit to provide some examples we use to raise funds for a good cause and get yourself out there. These are:

1) We are soon to be running charity items the customer can purchase on our website – and in return we send the customer all the details of our progress of our climb of everest and a rock from base camp for donations over £200. The key here is uniqueness in what they recieve to obtain maximum donation value, there’s not many people have a rock from everest on their mantle piece. don’t forget about your lower value contributions with a progress report on the funds raised. It is key to think what local resources/opportunities you have that are a little unique or people wouldn’t experience themselves. In this example we have stressed the importance of the marketing of the event as this gets the customer engaged with the business in very rewarding way for market research,profit and brand loyalty.

In the above example the charity has agreed to pay expenses so no cost is incurred by the business apart from time spent doing the event when we raise funds to specified figure, that is why it is crucial to get your PR in order to avoid the business incuring costs if you raise some money but not enough! Note: This is a big fund raiser, not for the newcomer/faint hearted but gives clear demonstrations of the key aspects for a sucsessful campain to mention a free trip of a lifetime!

2) Contact your local sports team, get a signed shirt of local football team by explaining the cause and the free advertising potential for them, they want in on the ride too!

Contact your local radio station explaining your intentions to auction the signed shirt/match ball (we have even done a date with one of the team legends, great word of mouth publicity for this and were offered a free meal at the resturant!) and some of your products which you have donated on air to the listeners, you will be pleasantly surprised how receptive local private radio stations are to this, they love to give stuff away and help charity, your sincerity will show and clinch the deal with your passion for the cause .

This is beneficial in two ways. Firstly, your company and its products will get free plugs on radio which can be very costly. Secondly, people will over time, and as you do numerous events, associate your company with the charity in a positive way, this ultimately means when the charity advertises you will benefit from re-enforcement of your brand which is free and done in a way marketing people dream of!

These are just a few of the options and you can find many more and I don’t want to give all my secrets!

Some costs will be associated with the above and other events, but at $8/£6 a t-shirt to have your name on a sponsored run/bike ride is more than worth it. Financially and to keep your pride and passion in the business as the years go by. In mine and my staff’s experience you will also find benefits from seeing first hand the help that the people the charity supports and the fun involved will far outweigh the financial benefits of the publicity, but don’t get me wrong it does help pay the bills!

Following the author of the original articles lead I will do a brief outline of the negatives and ways to deal with them.

1)Can be time consuming, may be at the cost of essential business activities, be realistic in what you set yourself

2) Can be physically/mentally challenging if you are to do the activities yourself, rope friends and family in to do what you really cant do, not what you are scared to do! that’s what people pay for blood sweat and tears and the more the better in our experience!

3) Can strain your relationship depending on the level of activity you put in, don’t disappear to Mt Everest for 6 weeks if you are not going to have a family/house/car to come back to.

4) You may get more orders/traffic/inquiries than you can handle, be prepared that peaks in any of the above will affect the serivce you can offer to customers and may lose the business. it may be wise to ask for help from your support network on key days such as the day of the auction. But the last one if done right means you have suceeded in your primary objective, getting very low-cost, high impact advertising.

I would love to hear peoples stories and thoughts on the above, it makes it worth while spending the time to write this at 9am on a Saturday morning!

Chris Brown March 27, 2010 at 6:56 am

Ben:
Wow, you gave some GREAT examples on ways to promote your business inexpensively! I love the idea of helping a charitable event that makes sense as a tie in to your company’s mission and values.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read and respond. For someone who is early in their career, you have a tremendous grasp on the situation. My prediction is a long and successful career for you.

Also, wondering if you currently publish online regularly? Your experiences and thoughts would make a great online publication, in my opinion.

Thanks again for your thoughtful comment.
Chris

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