If I were staring a business today, I would do things much differently.
Here’s how I created my first business: Two years out of law school I was fired by the boss from heck (Her reason? I didn’t “write well enough.” Unbeknownst to her, I was about to have my first book published, and if you think I was petty enough to autograph a copy and send it to her two months later when it was in fact published, you would be right. But I digress.)
Anyway, I made a profit the first month and never looked back. My business grew because I marketed the heck out of it using all tools available to me at the time:
- Classified ads in the newspaper
- Networking at Le Tip and chamber events
- Radio ads which advertised –
- Public seminars
- Cable TV ads
- Newspaper display ads
- Direct mail
But here’s the deal: Today there are far more effective, and economical, ways to get the same – or better – results. While my strategy would be the same (advertise and market a lot, and then do it some more), today the tools I would use would be these instead:
Craigslist instead of classified ads: The growth of Craigslist is evidence of just how powerful a classified ad can be, but the advantage is that most Craigslist ads are free. That’s hard to beat, free.
Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook instead of the chamber mixer: Networking the old-fashioned way was a bit of a drag – forcing yourself to an event where you had to make small talk with people who may or may not be interested in what you sell and do. Yawn.
Social networking is a revolutionary improvement because, while you are still networking, it is faster, broader, more direct, and you can meet and influence a far greater number of people. Rubber chicken lunches be gone!
Podcasts instead of radio ads: I still love radio advertising in the right circumstance, but being able to create and broadcast your own podcast is hard to beat.
YouTube videos and webinars instead of public seminars: The value of being out there in front of the public is that you get to be known as the expert – you are the one pontificating, entertaining and informing others. But the power of online video and webinars is that you can craft that image easier, cheaper, and more professionally. That you don’t have to rent a conference room at the Holiday Inn is a nice bonus.
Pay per click and pay per impression instead of cable TV and newspaper ads: Mass media advertising usually has one of two purposes: Either you want to create a brand or create a sale, (sometimes both. )
If immediate sales are your goal, then a Google pay per click campaign probably makes far more sense than a TV campaign. You only pay for qualified leads – people who like your ad enough to click on it – and as such you will spend far less because you won’t be paying to reach thousands of eyeballs who will never be buying from you. If branding is your goal, than a pay per impression campaign can yield fantastic results for much less money than TV too.
E-mail instead of direct mail: Traditionally, direct mail has been considered successful if it creates a 4% response rate or so. But even to get that, you have to buy lists, pay for postage and packaging, etc. E-mail marketing on the other hand costs almost nothing and usually yields better results.
As they say, everything old is new again, fortunately for us.