I’ve won a £3,000 innovation voucher from the North-West Development Agency (NWDA). With this voucher I submit what professional work I need done to the NWDA, they then send out my request to all the businesses affiliated to them and these businesses decide whether to bid for my project.
I now have two companies competing for my project (which is very top-secret at the moment… but I can let you know that it is related to fashion and the internet… and innovation). I am currently communicating with these companies, describing the requirements of my project in detail and looking to see which one of the two is most likely to do a better job.
So, if you have just started up your business and want to develop some innovative idea, consider applying for the next round of vouchers, presumably near the end of the year. You can go for the £3,000 option as I have, or if you need a bit more money, they have a £10,000 voucher where you commit £3,000 and they give you the other £7,000.
Innovation… a word which sits comfortably in the top 10 of my business vocabulary.
If you are a small company or you plan to start your own business soon, you will be faced with the dilemma of costs, while having no initial revenue. If you have a great deal of starting capital this might not be your main concern, but if you don’t, even the best product without sufficient resources dedicated to marketing, will never sell.
So that was pretty much my initial hurdle. What did I do? Well I found ways to market or promote my company and its services by spending nothing (in some cases) or as little as possible. 10 years ago you might not have been able to do this, but because so many on-line companies are now using the “Freemium Business Model” it is possible today.
Before I list some of my invaluable, free (or very cheap) marketing tools, I want to mention that some of them may no longer be free, or are no longer available. The purpose of this post it to create awareness of the various ways you can market your products without spending a fortune. It will then be up to you to begin searching for these tools and establishing a portfolio which you will update with new ones and remove the ones which become expensive or are no longer available. Some things that sound too good to be true do exist but they do not last forever.
So here goes:
- Free Website: Create your website using Yola (free), pay GoDaddy £5 to register your .com domain (using a promo code for 25% off – Google search), host for free using Yola and get free e-mail for your domain (as in: firstname.lastname@example.org) using Google Aps – TOTAL COST of WEBSITE & EMAIL: £5/year
- Search Engine Marketing: Use the Thirty Day Challenge (Free) to get to the top of Google for your market organically, but in the mean time get yourself some free Google AdWords and Yahoo credit (usually around £30-£50 worth) to drive traffic through to your site – just search for them on Google… there are loads out there – TOTAL COST of SEO: £0
- Printed Materials: Sign up to VistaPrint‘s newsletter. They send out one every day or so that tells you: “You have been selected to win, blah blah blah“. In most e-mails you see links to claim your free business cards (250), free flyers (50), free brochures, letterheads, a banner, t-shirts, etc etc etc. All you pay for is delivery so do all of the above in one go and it will save you a fortune. Use this, it is AWESOME! TOTAL COST of PRINTING: £8
- Facebook Marketing: In their attempt to compete with Google and Yahoo, Facebook is giving out loads of coupon codes to get your started on using their advertising platform, which is different to all the others because you can narrow down the people you want to reach using: gender, city, interests, age, relationship status etc. Sign up to the Visa Business Network before the 15th of October and you’ll get $100 of Facebook advertising credit to mess around with. Don’t forget to make a Group AND a Page for your product/service. A Group so you can message your members, a Page because it gets indexed by Google and comes up in search results. TOTAL COST of FACEBOOK ADVERTISING: £0
Total cost of initial marketing campaign: £13.
There are loads of ideas out there, but I think I have covered the basics for now. If anyone has any other free tools, share them with us.
So, like many people who use Facebook for some kind of marketing activity, I have two accounts. One which I use for most of my marketing campaigns and another which is my personal account. We do this to prevent Facebook from deleting our personal account.
While I hate spam, advertising, stupid applications and random so called “friends” appearing on my personal account – I love all these things on my marketing account; because sometimes you come across some new or creative method being used to effectively reach more people.
This past week was Fresher’s week at university and I joined a few groups called Manchester Freshers. Very clever people behind these groups. One girl called Melissa Hart, is the admin of a few of these groups and has found a really cool way to promote events.
Recently Facebook allowed us to change the name of groups. So she changes the name of her Freshers group every day to say something like: “Tiger Tiger Erasmus Party Tonight – Vodka RedBull £1.50”… and then the next day she changes it again. Every change creates a notification that all 3,000 members receive. AWESOME! While messages can become spam, we love receiving notifications.
Something to consider when thinking of promoting events for Nivoda Marketing.