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 Welcome to OrbWeaver's Business Resource Lab

 Getting Noticed: Marketing on a Shoestring

  • Sign up for a Newsletter. See This Month's Web Watch. Any number of sites offer free expertise, so take advantage of it. Sign up once too often, however, and you can find yourself on junk mail lists... so:
  • Sign up for a free online E-mail Account, available through any number of vendors and use this to sign up for newsletters. If the account starts attracting too much junk mail, you can abandon it, and start a new one. You do NOT want to clutter your business e-mail box with personal mail or junk!
  • Send out cards. iPrint.com allows you to design Announcements Online Or, go to any search engine and type in "postcard printing" and up pops several firms which will print postcards for you based on your new web site. Snapfish.com will print greeting cards from your images, and offers Free Photo printing when you Open an Account. Direct mail offers a reasonably cheap method of alerting your clients to your new site... and getting them to sign up for your email newsletter... which should cut your future printing and mailing costs.
  • Take out an ad. Not an expensive display ad, but a classified ad under an appropriate category in your local paper. And test it. Create a sub-page for your web (www.myweb.com/classified) with a special offer on it. See if anyone bites, and ask your host for a traffic report at the end of a month to see if your ad is generating interest.
  • Buy a new shirt. And while you're at it, get one for your significant other. Custom embroidery firms are popping up all over, you'll often find them at resorts while you're browsing the shops. Take advantage of their one of one capabilities and make yourself a neat shirt with your .com address on it. Consider giving them as gifts... logo wear is cool. Just ask Coke. If you're comfortable with graphics, design your own logo wear, mugs, or hats at Cafe Press. With a link you can sell your own logowear off your own web site!
  • Be a supportive friend. You've got friends, they've got websites. Offer to exchange links with them. Promote them in your newsletter, and provide them with nice graphics so they can easily promote you.
  • Don't be greedy. Did you just produce a nice newsletter? Offer to customize the sections which need to be customized, and share it with another business. You'll have all of their customers experiencing your expertise with very little effort on your part.
  • Tell the world.. or at least your local paper. The press release may not even make the business section, but if you don't send it, it surely will not appear in the paper! Remember the rules, who, what, where, when, why, and try to make it catchy and interesting.
  • Paint the car. Or not... buy a magnetic sign. But turning your car into a rolling billboard is a tried and true advertising method. Why do you think your plumber does it? It works, that's why.
  • Join a group. Newsgroup that is. Or one of the thousands of listservs that cater to every possible interest. Read the group for a while before jumping in, and observe the finer points of netiquette... but there are e-commerce sites which are running strong, and profitably, because their owners consistantly work the newsgroup forums.
  • Sign your e-mail. That .sig file is a darn useful reminder to everyone you write. It should contain your web address, as well as your conventional contact information. If you participate in newsgroups, a .sig file is an absolute necessity.
  • Work your e-mail list. Those people who actually took the time to ask you to send them stuff should be sent stuff. Not so much stuff they learn to dread the sight of your return address in their e-mail box, but enough so they know they're special and important.
  • Change your content regularly to encourage repeat traffic and the bookmarking of your site. Put right on your site "don't forget to bookmark us."
  • You're a winner! Run a contest now and then to test the quality and quantity of your site traffic, and make the qualifications something you can use. Have the customer fill out a survey with meaningful, but not personal, questions. Ask them.. is the type on this site too small? Are the images clear and easy to view?
  • Offer discounts to customers who bring you new customers. After all, the loyal customer is your best customer, and you didn't have to spend a dime in acquisition. Offer a 5% bounty on the first sale from a new referred client.

Lastly... you can purchase traffic, targetted traffic, buy paying for placement on the search engines.

  • Advertise your Web site with Overture search listings. Overture allows you to set a budget you're comfortable with (minimum $20/month), and then places your URL at the top of the search engine hit list under "sponsor matches." You pay only for those that actually click through, making this one of the most affordable long term methods of increasing traffic available. Sign up now and get a $10 credit, equivalent to 200 free sales leads. Sign up now.
  • Advertise on LookSmart. I know, I know... you've heard you shouldn't pay for listings. Problem is, for most of you... your competitor is paying for listings. Which is why they come flying up on the first page... and you don't. Looksmart is a little less expensive, $15/month, but doesn't allow you to bid for placement. Still, $15/month buys you 100 click throughs, on your choice of keywords. Click here

You need to weigh these two options... or budget $35-50/month and do both. How much exposure can you buy for $420 in print media, vs. the exposure you'll get coming up in the first slots of a search? Pick one, pick both, sign up yourself, or delegate the responsibility to your webmaster, and ask for regular reports.

Looking for more tips? Sign up for our newsletter, which comes out on a more or less monthly basis, by sending us your e-mail address. Visit this month's edition now.

Additional Articles:
Targeting Your Market: Demographics, Marketing, and You