Lesson from 2006 Marketing Diversity

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Ben Yoskovitz at Instigator Blog initiated a Group Writing Project where people can share any lessons they learned over the course of 2006.

So here’s my lesson from this year: diversifying your marketing strategy can benefit your business, and it is possible to do this on a shoestring budget.

Diversity is good
People generally agree that diversity is a good thing. Not only is there a lot we can learn from cultural diversity among people, but diversity is praised in other realms as well, such as investing (diversify your portfolio), eating (diversify your diet), exercise (different types of exercise encourage you to continue), etc. And now I can recommend diversity in marketing.

Until about June of this year, I was depending on word-of-mouth and repeat customers to keep my business going. As a sworn bootstrapper, I refused to spend any money on fancy marketing campaigns, and was enjoying the benefits of slow and gradual growth.

But in June, I realized that I had reached a crucial point in the state of my business: I either had to accelerate the amount of incoming orders, or resign myself to a business always on the verge of extinction. If I wanted to make that leap into business-dom, I had to invest in my marketing strategy.

I introduced a few marketing tracks to my portfolio that met my strict bootstrapping standards, and were reputed to be effective. And they were.

Diverse Marketing Strategies for the Sworn Bootstrapper

  1. Yellow Pages: Yellow Pages (Dapei Zahav in Israel) allows every business to advertise for free. The free listing is very barebones, with only the company name, mailing address, and phone number. No website or email. After two years of being listed, I got a call asking me to put together a PowerPoint presentation and write a script for a promotional video for one of Israel’s leading women’s clothing franchises. This is the Israeli equivalent to winning a contract from Old Navy in the States talk about ROI!
  2. Google Adwords: I’ve had a website for over two years, and while it was a good calling card for people that I met and gave my business card to, I wanted it to work a little harder for me. I didn’t have enough traffic, links, etc. to get good results in Google, so I introduced an Adwords campaign. I made sure the campaign is highly targeted and only appears to Israeli surfers and for certain keywords. By targeting the campaign, I could keep the costs low and ensure that only people really interested in my services were visiting my site. As a result I saw traffic to my site increase by about 30%, and even got a great order from a cool start-up in Tel Aviv.
  3. E-newsletter campaign: even though we at illuminea highly recommend e-newsletter campaigns to our clients, we embarrassingly did not have one ourselves. So this month I made it a priority to initiate such a campaign. Since my mailing list is not very big, a monthly campaign costs me a few bucks with an online service that allows me to manage my list, track clickers, openers, unsubscribers and bouncers. It has resulted in increased traffic to my site and reminds people that we’re out there and available.
  4. Networking: I always found the idea of networking to be corny. Forced relationships with people seemed artificial and insincere. However, I have to admit that almost every networking effort I have made has yielded results. The way I try to overcome the falseness of networking meetings is by deciding that I am going to learn about other people and their businesses, which can actually be quite fascinating. I ask fellow networkers about themselves and their experiences, as a result of which I learn a lot and even win business.
  5. Blog: And finally, illuminea joined the blogosphere. I became convinced of the advantages a blog can have for a business, such as attracting new and repeat visitors, and pleasing the search engines with fresh content. An effective blog can also demonstrate your expertise. So far, the blog has shown good results, people seem to enjoy it, and we have been approached about a number of projects as a result.

By diversifying your marketing strategy, you increase your chances of winning business from different client groups. Low-budget strategies such as those listed above provide a great return on your investment: if each yields only a handful of projects a year, your investment was more than worthwhile.

Good luck to everyone in 2007 and may it be a fruitful and satisfying year for businesses worldwide!