Marketing Your Way to Independence

Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to prosper and grow your business in a down economy. In fact, there is no better time to do it. With the large majority of companies cutting back and dramatically decreasing their investments in marketing, now has never been a better or affordable time to market.

One entrepreneur to another, let me share with you four simple marketing ideas to maintain and grow your business. If these tactics can work for Advantage, they can work for you. You simply need the creativity to apply these ideas to your own business.

Let’s get started.

1. Launch a Customer Get A Customer Contest. A referral is the greatest compliment a business can receive. In 2010, I learned that despite investing tens of thousands of dollars into marketing and advertising, 67% of Advantage’s new authors came from introductions from existing authors, friends, and associates. The “smack my forehead” moment came when I realized we were investing far more money into getting 33% of our new authors (non referrals) than we were investing to get 67% of our new authors (from referrals). I would rather spend money on my authors than on buying advertising.

So here is what I did. We launched our Client-Get-A-Client program where every time an individual makes a quality introduction (the word introduction is softer and better than the word referral), we place that person’s name on a ping pong ball and throw it in a hopper. At year’s end, we host a live drawing to pull one of the ping-pong balls out of the hopper. One of our authors who referred us receives the Grand Prize (which varies by year but generally consists of a tropical vacation, a Super Bowl trip, or free copies of his or her book.) To increase their chances of winning, all they have to do is make more quality introductions.

2. Offer FREE to induce a Purchase

When we launched our internet TV capabilities, we needed a tactic to get clients to sign up. To induce our clients to hire us to produce a regular internet television show for them and their business, we decided to offer a free sample. No different than the girls on the streets of Charleston offering a free sample of Italian ice as a ploy to get you hooked. We did the same thing. We offered to the first ten authors to respond one free custom television show. They had to travel to Charleston to tape, and we knew that once they see how great their show looks, they would purchase a 12-month package.

3. Listen to Your Customers and Host a Customer Appreciation Day

After listening to author feedback, we found the most common question we get is related to starting and building a professional speaking business. We hosted Advantage Marketing Summits, and to meet the needs of our customers, we decided to offer a 100% FREE bonus day to our conference titled: A-Z Blueprint: Building a Profitable Speaking Business. By offering our authors exactly what they wanted, we were able to increase enrollment to our conference dramatically.

4. Connect Your Business with Charitable Causes

Advantage Media Group celebrated its 5 year anniversary on July 19, 2010. Rather than throwing a party and blowing money on cake, decorations, and food…we thought it would be far more constructive, meaningful, and exciting to use that money and energy to do something for others. We launched an ambitious 30 day campaign to raise the money to construct a library in a 3rd world country for underserved children. Thanks to generous contributions from team members, Advantage clients, vendors, and strategic partners, we were able to reach our fund raising goal in less than 30 days! In fact, we even raised enough money to build a SCHOOL in Guatemala! In 2011, the school was constructed. This unprecedented display of support and loyalty for Advantage was an incredibly positive way to enter the second half of our first decade.

By connecting with your customers on a more altruistic level, it will allow you to build bonds and connection points that transcend simple commercial transactions. Your job is to weave your business into your customer’s lives. Partnering with a Charity and inviting your customers to participate is an excellent way to do this.

I want remind you that we live in a tough business world. As an entrepreneur, you must out-hustle and out-work your competition. Furthermore, you must be different, and constantly be doing different things. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over yet expecting a different result. Take any four of the ideas above, customize them to your business, and prepare to see your business grow. Please be sure to report back to me the results. Happy marketing!

– Adam Witty

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