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The Voice of the Black Community

Business

Do's, don'ts of marketing on shoestring budget
It's not about being cheap. It's about being resourceful.
 
Published Thursday, March 28, 2013
by Michaela L. Duckett

When operating a business on a shoestring budget, the first area many entrepreneurs are tempted to make cuts in is their advertising department.

But as Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company, once said, “A man who stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops the clock to save time.”

Fortunately, there are several ways that entrepreneurs can market their businesses without breaking the bank. According to Rhonda Nails, author of “I Dare you to PUSH: 5 Steps to Pursuing Your Purpose on Purpose” and “36 Ways to Instigate your Success,” all it takes is a little bit of thought and resourcefulness.

Nails, who manages Signature Notaries LLC, speaks from experience. The self-proclaimed “success instigator” started her first business while in the throes of bankruptcy. Now, she is on a mission to share her secrets of success in building a business while being dead broke. She founded Project PUSH, through which she travels the country hosting workshops and using her story to help others.

Here are a few of her do’s and don’ts of marketing on a shoestring budget:

DON’T be ordinary. Nails said every business needs an “it factor,” which she describes as a unique backstory that separates it from others in the same field. “Think of it as your USP, or unique selling proposition,” she said. “It’s the thing that distinguishes you from somebody else even if you both do the same thing.”

DO work together. Nails suggests partnering with other small business owners and working together to cross-promote each other’s businesses.

“You promote their services to your audience and they do likewise,” she explains. “It’s a give and take that doesn’t’ take any money at all. The hard part is that you’ve got to find a like-minded individual that is not going to be selfish. I say individual, but you can find two or three people.”

 DON’T be cheap.  “Everybody wants to find out how they can market for free,” said Nails. “But being bankrupt or on a shoestring or penny budget is not about being cheap. It’s about making use of the resources you have and building on top of that.”

 For example, she said you may start off with a free website, but once you make a profit, it’s time to reinvest in your business.

 “When you save money in one area, apply it in other areas of your business,” she said. “You have to invest in you. People’s mindsets have to change about being cheap and getting over on people. That’s over.”

 DO build a team. Nails advises against trying to do everything on your own to cut costs. “I understand that in the beginning it’s rough,” she said. “But that does not mean that you can’t get some help.”

 She suggests enlisting the help of friends and friends of friends to build a team of skilled professionals in various industries that can assist and guide you.

 “If you know you are not particularly good at something, don’t try to do it yourself just to save money,” said Nails.

 DON’T abuse social media. When it comes to social networking websites like Facebook or Twitter, Nails warns against bombarding friends and followers with a barrage of sales pitches and self-promotion. Engage your audience in a two-way conversation as much as possible.

 “Don’t always be about sales,” she said. “If you don’t have anything to say, strike up a conversation by asking things like, ‘what are you doing this weekend?’ or finding other ways to get to know your audience.”

 She said it’s about making connections because people buy from people they like. “Once you make that connection, then the door is open to make a sale.”

 DO be yourself. When you try to be anything but who you genuinely are, you will always have a problem, Nails said. So always let your style and personality shine through and use it to your advantage.

 “As for me, I’m down to earth. I’m funny and laid back,” she said. “I let potential clients know that’s what they are going to get with me, and if that is not their style then they don’t need to book me for an event. You have to be yourself because when you are not, people see right through that.”

 For more tips from Nails, visit her online at project-push.org or email Rhonda@project-push.org

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