DIY marketing for an hour a day proves surprisingly effective

You don’t need to spend a fortune on marketing & PR to get quality exposure

On a roll, this morning sees me on Southern FM radio news talking about my comedy ebooks. And as I write I’m waiting to hear from the national newspapers and various magazines, via a freelance journalist who reckons the story has legs.

I’m a one man band working with a tiny budget alone in my studio (violins, please). But thankfully I’m a freelance copywriter and marketer with a design degree. So I know how to promote my micro-businesses and can do a lot of the work myself.

It’s impossible to put aside days at a time, so I spend an hour every working day promoting, marketing and advertising my business. Like me, you’ll save yourself a lot of money if you can put aside an hour a day to work on your small business’s visibility and brand.

DIY marketing activities = A valuable business advantage

There are plenty of simple yet effective marketing activities open to you. And doing some of the work yourself will give you an insider’s intimate, informed feel for how your business is best marketed. A valuable advantage whatever your commercial context.

What you can do obviously depends on your skills. Some owners of small to medium-sized businesses maintain and manage their own websites in-house while others outsource the whole thing. Some do in-house marketing, others employ a freelancer or marketing agency. And some do nothing!

Whatever your skill set, you’ll probably be surprised by how much you can achieve once you’ve broken your marketing and PR into small bites. While it’s impossible to scoff down a whole elephant, elephant sandwiches are deliciously manageable.

Go make elephant sandwiches

Here are a few things you can do to keep your business’s profile fresh. Hold visitors’ interest and help new customers find you. Help your target markets understand the unique benefits of your products and services. Bring you to the attention of the business community – locally or nationally. And earn yourself the advantage of a solid, growing

  • send a monthly Press Release to local business press, consumer press, trade publications, Radio, TV and press release distribution websites: products, opinions, solutions to common problems, advice to consumers… whatever’s relevant to your business and prospective customers
  • update / edit your website weekly with new content: fact sheets, case studies, product sheets and showcase articles, white papers, Q&A, customer testimonials, knowledge library…
  • DIY email campaigns: regular newsflashes to your prospect database (don’t forget to offer an opt-out)
  • create a short monthly e-newsletter (a two page A4 .pdf will do) to distribute to your B2B prospect e-mailing list (again, remember to offer an opt-out)
  • research the latest SEO guidelines and keep abreast of how to make and keep your site SEO-friendly: SEO isn’t a one-off, it’s an ongoing process
  • post comments in, and contribute to, relevant blogs, newsgroups, forums and communities
  • lodge your business with as many reputable online directories and communities as you can find
  • check your site regularly for W3 and other standards compliance
  • build links with reputable hand-chosen businesses that complement your own: good quality link juice is powerful stuff
  • submit thought provoking articles to article distribution site
  • carry out carefully-targeted, simple offline direct marketing campaigns: a good, strong letter or an attention grabbing
  • write letters to the press and trade publications, involving yourself intellectually in your field. Take a stance
  • watch what the competition’s doing and learn lessons
  • use your expertise to make an informed, interesting, relevant entry into Wikipedia including a link back to your
    site (gold dust!)
  • get your corporate literature and overall brand into shape. Digital print technology means you can afford to
    change your business literature whenever necessary and print tiny quantities cost-effectively. So maximise its
    effectiveness by keeping it up to date and accurate. If it’s wrong, you’ll look wrong
  • check regularly for broken links into your site and mend them (I’m overdue an hour’s work on this one!)
  • dd a site map – it takes seconds using free software – just search on ‘create free site map’ and update it every time you change your site
  • blog: WordPress templates are fast, easy and fun to chop around to your own specifications
  • create 301 redirection instructions whenever you change the name of a webpage or remove a page, so that people who’ve bookmarked the page or saved it as a favourite will still be able to find you without faffing
  • be aware of event-led marketing opportunities and take advantage. It’s cheesy but it works: Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Easter, holidays, winter, summer…
  • edit your website regularly so that it doesn’t start to sprawl and the content is always bang up to date

The trick is to maintain a steady flow of fresh output into your target markets while keeping up with housework. As I’ve found with real housework, if you do one room a day thoroughly, nothing ever gets particularly dirty.

Analyse everything

The best bit is keeping an eye on the effect your work’s having. Two simple Excel spreadsheets will make it fast and easy – once you get into the habit – to analyse your webstats and keep weekly tabs on your SEO positioning. It’s  compelling stuff. You might even find yourself mildly addicted.

Excitingly, the whole is always much greater than the sum of the parts. Provided you persist you’ll reach a tipping point whereby exposure takes on a life of its own, with visitor stats suddenly increasing hand over fist. If your products and services are good value and good quality and your website is regularly updated, increased visitors will lead to a higher % conversion to sales.

A word of caution: the writing bit’s ever so important. Poorly-written content is a false economy: it’s a big disincentive to visitors as well as spoiling any chance of search engine optimisation. So unless you’re the proud owner of a serious knack, find a professional copywriter with a flair for SEO and a good grounding in the principles of direct marketing.

Your hour a day will start to show results within a couple of weeks, at very low or no cost except your time. It’s almost rude not to have a go… so enjoy.